From my limited perspective, the problem seems too huge. I live only in the present. I can look to the past and I can look to the future, but I am bound by the limits of time. I can’t even begin to understand the intricate and wonderful workings of God. But I can see the shadow of the tapestry He’s weaving. I don’t know ultimately what this tapestry will look like. But let me share just some of the woof and warp I can see from where I sit. When I was fifteen years old a girl from my church came home from a summer with Teen Missions. A group up until that time I had never heard of. Back then I struggled with a very poor body image. Even though I wasn’t then, I thought I was fat. And this girl came home thin after her summer team. She had lost a lot of weight. My desire to lose weight as well was the impetus for my own involvement with Teen Missions the following summer when I was sixteen. A selfish and self-serving motivation. I went to Haiti, and my life was changed forever.
The following summer I went with TMI again, to the Philippines, and I met Connie and Kevin. They became my best friends. Kevin had gone on a team the year before with Doug and Barb Peterson as the head leaders. I remember that, because he spoke often of them and in the highest regard. Connie ultimately became my sister in law. Back in 2001, I dragged my sister Diane to be a volunteer at TMI’s “boot camp” in Florida where she learned about their sister ministry, Aids Orphans and Street Children (AOSC). She struggled with wanting to become involved with them. Connie encouraged her to follow through with it, which she did. After Connie’s death, we decided to raise money to establish a rescue unit in her name. We are close to achieving that. This summer I go to Teen Missions again after a 20 year hiatus. And the Lord decided, at least for now, that I’d be going to Zambia to work with an AOSC rescue unit. The couple who coordinates TMI Zambia is Doug and Barb Peterson. Kevin sent me their e-mail address there a few days ago, and I wrote to them. I received a lovely reply of encouragement. Today, my sister Diane received a forwarded e-mail from Doug through her primary contact at TMI/AOSC. Children in Zambia are starving to death right now. He, Doug, was asking the leadership of TMI to be able to divert funds earmarked for “mothers’ seminars” to emergently buy maize. Doug shared that three of the babies in these mother’s classes had recently starved to death. I don’t know anyone who starved to death. Do babies ever starve to death for lack of food in the United States?
I go to the grocery store and have the choice of a hundred different kinds of breakfast cereal, and in Zambia right now they don’t have corn to eat. Doug writes that all the people have to eat are pumpkin leaves and the harvest is one to two months away. I don’t know what the answer is. I can pray, I can write checks, I can go. But I don’t know what else to do. I am so small. I am handing God my threads and I know he will create something beautiful. But from where I sit, I don’t understand how God takes the mess of strings He is given and does that. I look back and consider the dirty threads of wanting to be thin I gave him 25 years ago, and I am starting to see something emerge. But I am “looking through a mirror darkly”. Someday God will stretch out his arms and unfurl a tapestry of the greatest beauty, woven together of the grubby threads that we have all given him.
As I sit here, lounging on my couch, watching my TV, eating my dinner, and blogging on my wireless laptop, I wonder…how much is required? The Lord said “to whom much is given, much is required.” How much is much? It is not even arguable that I have been given much. But how much is much when it comes to much is required? It is sort of a scary thought to me.
I harken back to how much my life was changed all those years ago by my involvement with TMI. And I see how much my life is continues to be changed because of that. And I look forward to this summer and imagine that God has even more in store for me. Kevin’s mother told me that she just knew I’d end up coming home with a bunch of little kids left orphaned by AIDS. Another friend wondered if I’d ever be able leave Africa once I was there.
When I was five, I remember a woman, a missionary nurse, who came to speak at my church. She was on furlow from the Congo. I remember telling God that I never wanted to be her. I didn’t want to be a nurse. I didn’t want to be a missionary. And Africa sounded like a frightening place. I guess that was all part of the tapestry, too.