Saturday, June 5, 2010

from Catapult - an article I wrote a year ago

Modeling the mango

by Carol Brennan King

If you want to see God’s sense of humor, you have to go to Chad, Africa in March, seven months after the last rain. Seven months of heat: the kind of heat that fills the air, thickens it and evaporates your sweat almost before it emerges from your skin. The kind of endless heat that sucks leaves brown, wrinkles them into hard husks that blow about in the dust where grass once grew.

The sky burns a hard bright blue, cloudless. Liquid fire, a globe floats across the broad expanse marking time, 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Palm fronds bang against each other, no soft rustles, as the wind stirs them at sunset.

And the mango tree behind my house hangs heavy with the pregnant peachy plumpness of reddening, ripening mangoes. Finally too heavy for the branch, they fall into the eager black hands of little children. Their bigger brothers climb the long limbs filling their shirts and bellies full, juice staining streaks across their dust covered cheeks.

Magnificent mango, God’s joke. Every other tree stands barren, hanging onto a few lifeless leaves while the fifty-foot-tall mango stretches into the sky, lusty, a shade tree laughing in the face of the sun, bearing juicy life-giving fruit when even weeds are distant memories.

They needed to squeeze a church building onto a narrow lot there in the city. Nothing could be done; the tree had to go. Machetes, sharpened hatchets and long-armed axes were pulled from dark corners to hack the roots stretching like thick tendons from the base of the tree. The last root severed, cries of “Run! Run!” rang out, and they waited for the giant to lie down.

But it just stood there, like a nonchalant suitor, waiting to be recognized. They began to dig around the base of the tree. There must be a root yet undiscovered. Down, they dug, down, down, down…they shoveled the dry dirt from the tree’s base, a trunk still thick like an iceberg below the sea. Down went the tree’s taproot, a quarter mile deep toward the center of the earth, to tap the river that flows cold and wet beneath the desert, the root, a straw sucking moisture a quarter of a mile back up into the juicy fruit hanging like heavy Christmas bells.

Sometimes I feel like a leafless tree in the desert, sucked dry of energy and motivation — faith, even. Depression blows about like wind evaporating moisture from the leaves. And then I remember the mango tree’s strategy for survival. With a taproot extended deep down into the river of life, no wind can blow me down. No heat can devour me. No enemy can defeat me. Like the mango tree, I can survive and even thrive, bearing beautiful fruit in the driest of seasons: God’s joke and mine.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The power of the Word - over the airways

I looked over the field of antennae astounded!  Like Christmas trees or an apple orchard, row after row of antennae sending the gospel message from where I stood in the Andes as far as half-way around the world.  If that wasn't enough, we traveled further and higher into the Andes to the headwaters of the Amazon where a turbine powered from the rushing waters of a small mountain stream harnessed by a narrow dam generated the electricity needed to send the gospel message through the antennae into the ears of eager listeners from the Middle East on one side to the Far East on the other.

Now think of it, the Message, the gospel message is being communicated to locales where missionaries cannot go, by the hand of God as  He draws water up from the earth, into a relatively small stream through the turbine, to generate electricity to convert words spoken in a concrete building in Quito through the air.....Taking the Word of God, the spoken message, to other members of our family. Some already in the family, others yet to cross over from death to life, but whose only opportunity is rooted in the waters of a stream high in the Andes at the hand of God.

Almost like magic, but not really.  God is and has been doing it through the shortwave radio ministry born in the Andes nearly eighty years ago when HCJB, call letters standing for the purpose of that ministry “Heralding Christ Jesus’ Blessings” aired its first broadcast from Quito, Ecuador Decemeber 25, 1931.

I think of Acts 1: 8, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Then  Romans 16:25,27  Praise God!  He can make you strong by means of my good news, which is the message about Jesus Christ.  For ages and ages this message was kept secret, but now at last it has been told...And now because of Jesus Christ, we can praise the only wise God forever! Amen.

It's all about the power of the Word, the living Word, the Logos, Jesus Christ and the written Word He left us, spoken into the airwaves to change lives.  All of that power yet to be harnessed by the turbines of our lives.

I am not sure what God is doing, but He is reminding me of the power of the Word, and of believers before me who had that vision - getting the message out there so the Holy Spirit could use it.  We live in an age of technology, and I wonder how many new and amazing ways there will be for us to "get it out there" so the Spirit of God can use it.  After all, He cannot use what people have not received....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The power of the written word - even when a teenager speaks

Every summer we send the RAs home with a book to read over the summer, not something terribly heavy, but something that we trust will be useful as they anticipate ministering to a new group of men or women in the residence halls.

This year we sent them home with Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations written by teenage twins Alex and Brett Harris. Now I can just imagine the low expectations you might have for this book, but let me warn you, it doesn't matter how old you are, this book is worth the read.  And in case you think I am saying that because it might help you work with teenagers, you are mistaken.

This book will challenge you to consider just how high your own expectations are for your life...and then it will demand that you think about what are you doing about those expectations.  There is a real challenge too, for those of us who say, I am doing my best, so God is happy.

I always struggled with that expression, but I wasn't sure why.  I think it might be because we settle.  We settle for a pretty low "best," and we do little to make our "best" any better.  It becomes an excuse for stunted growth, for failure to thrive.  If I'm doing my best, and God should be satisfied with that, then why should I try to do any better, learn anything more, develop further in any way?

So, right now, I want to buy this book for my grandchildren as well as the RAs, and I would love to sit in a circle of my peers who have read it.  It would be a challenge to work through these chapters and enter into some accountability for rising up out of the mud of the status quo where I find it too comfortable.

Hebrews 10:24 admonishes us to spur one another on to love and good deeds.  This book felt like that an old friend, one who wants to spur me on to greater things for His glory.