Glimpses of heaven
Yesterday and today were really normal days, in comparison to some lately, and yet they were filled with many small glimpses of the glory of God in this earth.
Yesterday Vera woke me up (I actually slept in!) and said we were going to the Zahnarzt (dentist). So I ate a quick breakfast, got changed, and we headed off without me having a clue of what to expect. We biked about a half an hour through beautiful farmland and then through the chilly forest until we came out into the outskirts of Weingarten. She showed me their old house and where the kids went to kindergarten (they lived there before Blankenloch where they are now). And then we made a few stops before we reached the dentist. From there she set me free asking whether I could find my way back and I just said, I hope so, and was off! I explored the town, mostly the two churches downtown. There is a evangelical and catholic church that are build along a small channel from the Rhine that goes through the town. They were both huge, and beautiful. I love the architecture and history hidden within the churches here in Germany. I took a few photos and walked around a little more before I found myself a bench where I could read the Word while I soaked up some sun. It was a beautiful, restful hour before I went back to the dentist office and we biked back to Blankenloch. Once we got home we made lunch, I picked up Esteban from kindergarten, and we ate together before I headed out to Karlsruhe. I went to the grocery store, made dinner for CJ and I, and then we biked to the Asyl (international) gathering. Afterwards I baked a lemon cake and we enjoyed a piece while CJ took a break from his work and then I blogged and wrote while he finished up working. The day was so normal, an appointment, laundry, biking, cooking...and yet there was a peace and rest that doesn't always come to easy. I was thankful for the beautiful scenery, beautiful conversation with Vera, and precious time with Christoph.
Today has been similar, and yet filled with even more glimpses of heaven. This morning Vera and I were invited for breakfast with Lois and her husband and family, he is the lead pastor for the Asyl international ministry. Without saying anything specific about our time together, this morning was itself a small trip to heaven and back. This families heart cry, along with Vera and Jeffrey and many others serving the internationals is tear-jerking and breath-taking. The cost of their faith is high, and yet they are always praising, never complaining. Lois is from England and her husband from Sri Lanka and they're four beautiful children are so adorable. Though we all ate together I mostly heard from Lois and learned her story of being raised in an atheistic home and adopting those views herself, and then as a young adult coming to know Jesus and meeting her husband and then living in the US for a short time before ending up in Germany...the last place they ever expected to live. Now teaching their children yet another language and struggling daily through the seemingly dead spirited culture they are surrounded by, and yet they have so much LIGHT. They truly give off the aroma of Jesus in the very essence of their presence: the way they love their children, the way they pray, the words of scripture and encouragement that flow from their lips, the realness of their struggles and hardships and yet the goodness and grace of God to carry them through. I am still processing all that we talked about and all that impacted me. I know that I carry many fears of mind about living in Germany, though it is so easy to see myself here. There is definitely a deadness in the church here and the depth and number of Christians, and that is something totally foreign to me. More foreign than the language and cultural changes. There is a loud cry for feminist rebellious behavior (also following suit in the US) but it is louder here than what I have experienced in my daily life in America. There is a lack of biblical education of both young children and preaching adults. It is a different country, so I should expect it, but more than a different country these are different people, and figuring how someone like me can ever learn to love them and learn to reach them...is what scares me the most.
Lois gave me so much hope this morning. She showed me it means to have faith. She said it breaks her heart that she cannot home-school her children because Germany doesn't allow it (I didn't know that until this morning, and that was hard to take in) and yet she said like Jochebed pushing Moses down the Nile, she pushes her kids each day, in little steps, and those steps require great leaps of her faith. To trust that God can carry them through the things they will face through public schooling with so many children coming from secular worldview homes and the secular, godless teaching they will receive. She said it is a great cost, what they have to give to love, nourish, and teach their children truth. But for them it is totally worth it...to hear their 9 year old praying for all the unbelieving kids in her class. Those are their glimpses of heaven that keep them pushing, give them strength, give them hope. She said they read Trailblazers with their kids and they absolutely love it (stories of well-known missionaries and faith heroes of the past). Those stories and truths give them hope and grace to keep going. This family relies daily on the prayers and financial support of others to be sustained and protected. The husband talked about the fact that his greatest fear in coming to Germany was all the unknowns and uncertainty of being supported and finding support in a seemingly secular place. They are still struggling daily to be supported by their local church, families within, and volunteers to serve these lost and lonely internationals. Lois told me a story about an albanian woman, 9 weeks pregnant, who just laid in her bed daily in the big bunk-house where they all lived together with 3 other families, a huge communal bathroom for men and woman with only a ground-hole, not even a commode, throwing up all the time and unable to speak to anyone because of the language barrier, while her husband searched for work. Lois visited her often and prayed with her and tried to encourage her. Drug users and prostitutes are always waiting nearby trying to coax these lonely, lost Asyl people into a deeper, darker pit. They both admitted it is a dark and hopeless ministry, yet that is where Jesus loves to be. He loves to find the lost, needy, victimized, hurting...and bring them grace, redemption, salvation. Oh what a beautiful thing it is to NEED Jesus and to be encounter him in those needs.
We also talked about the likes of Elisabeth Elliot, Piper, Giglio, David Platt (they are reading radical right now for the first time), our heroes and encouragers in faith. It was special and personally encouraging to me to see people living out their faith in an incredible, audible way right here in Germany. This is what it means to live for Christ. To love Him and sacrifice all to Him each day, even the seemingly small and meaningless things...He takes them all and uses them for good.
To read an incredible encouraging blog check out Katie Davis' latest post...about the glimpses of heaven in our daily grind of life.
Thank you Lord, for so many glimpses of heaven yesterday and today. Thank you for these small glimpses that help me hope and trust that you have brought me to exactly where I am and you will carry me through whatever comes ahead. Thank you for helping me believe in my purpose and place as a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and showing me how I can live that out right now and in the future. Help me develop the character, prayer life, wisdom, and knowledge to be a strong witness and friend to those you have and will place in my life.
'The Lord sends strength for thee...Psalm 68:28.
He gives continuous strength, reserves of power come to us which cannot be exhausted. He gives us strength...
...to go on
...to go up
...to go down
...to remain silent