Thursday, November 26, 2015

And It Goes On...

The day is almost done. It was full of studying for a biology test. Negative feedback mechanisms and the structure of the eye run through my mind.  The words call out from downstairs, "Come and see what came in the mail."

Thankful for the break, I go downstairs and there are papers-pink, yellow, and purple lying on the counter-top. A smile crosses my face as I see the familiar handwriting of my friends half a world away and I finger the pages with excitement and joy.

I turn back to my books but something pops into my head and I scribble it down on the corner of my notes. Four simple words.

And it goes on...

A little reminder that the legacy of the past few years is not over.

Mom reads out bits and pieces of letters and I save my personal ones, tucking them into the pages of my Biology textbook, as I wait for my Biology exam to be done the next day to read them.

At the end of my exam, I wait to be picked up and eagerly turn to the letters that I had waited to read. The words brought smiles to my face and memories of three beautiful years of friendship come back

"And it goes on..."

That phrase echo in my brain as I think of the words in those letters. The words of encouragement, of laughter, of preparing for exams again. Of a little boy in a wheelchair saying that he misses us and the one who wants me to teach him guitar.

You see, it isn't that much different than it was when we lived in the same country. That girl still encouraged me every time I saw her, and that little boy was always asking me if he could play my guitar.

So it goes on, this friendship of ours.

It goes on through pictures on the wall of little boys smiles.

It goes on through letters in my bedroom that I read one by one, picturing the faces and hearing the voices speaking those words.

It goes on through emails, notes, letters. Through the basketball advice and the updates on the books that they are reading.

It goes on through the nicknames, the "I miss you's" and the questions about when we are coming to visit.

Our friendships aren't over, like my deepest fears had always imagined. No, they may not be the same but they are still there.

Because we have a bond that is stronger than time. Stronger than distance. It is stronger than words on the page and days gone by. Even stronger than death. The few years that we spent together knit us together as family, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are brothers and sisters that won't be torn apart by trials, sadness, tears, goodbyes, and death because we belong to the eternal family of God. A family that will never be broken.

And it, this friendship, it goes on...over cultures, over oceans, over prayer and good memories.

It goes on.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Even Then…There is Joy

When we’re surrounded by hard circumstances, and the sky just keeps falling, and the waves just keep coming, we can become so swamped in our own problems that we miss the joy.

But there is so much joy waiting to be discovered!

In the month-old neighbor baby who is learning to smile

In walking through wet morning grass to kneel in soft dirt and plant trees that will one day be taller than we are

In 26 children saying in unison, “You are welcome, Auntie Kasana!”

In overflowing plates of matoke and g-nut sauce

In peaceful morning Bible readings up on a water tower

In waving to everyone you pass on the road

In dancing and whooping in church

In knowing that God never leaves nor forsakes us

In cheering crowds welcoming boys home

We can’t wait for that “perfect time” to find joy, because that time will never come. We will never be entirely problem and stress free until we reach Heaven. Thus, we need to be able, with God’s help, to see the joy even in the hardship, hurt, and disappointment, because that’s when we need it the most.

Psalm 27: 5-7 reminds us that joy is not dependent on our circumstances when it says, “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;at his sacred tent, I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.”

When we we’re struggling financially, we can know the joy of God’s provision. When we’re struggling relationally, we can find joy in God as the everlasting friend and father. People around us can also spread God’s joy through their words, actions, prayers or even a smile.

Sometimes, when I don’t feel there’s much to be happy about, let alone joyful about, God will drop a a little sweet something on my path for that day and I will remember that He is with me, and He is in control. As the giver of joy He can replenish us over and over again without ever becoming empty. And His presences provides yet another reason we can always be joyful! With Him before us, behind us, and walking with us, we can’t help exuding His joy!

Joy also lies in looking past the suffering to what lies ahead: everlasting peace and joy.
Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Even when we’re bombarded by hardship on all sides and no hope is in sight, we can still find joy through it all. Indeed, perhaps that is the truest joy of all as it is lasting, not relying on our circumstances. That is the joy worth having.