Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"...and dwelt among us..."

Ministry occasionally has the tendency to be anything but glamorous. Sometimes it’s filthy, harsh, and discouraging.

Tonight was one of those filthy, harsh, seemingly discouraging urban ministry times.

In a large room with eighteen adjoining closed off rooms, eighteen young men between the ages of fifteen and eighteen are all locked away in a juvenile detention center for a variety of different offenses. In the large room there are three different areas. In one area a movie is on which captivates the boys’ attention. Competing for their attention in the next area over is a screen with video games. And the final area is a wide open and empty room, except for a few small tables with chairs around them. Profanity and vulgar conversation topics are raging as we walked into the unit. Bible in hand, the inmates knew I was there to lead Bible study for whoever wanted to come. One brave soul walked up to me and sincerely asked me to stay. Before I could answer, he was off to grab chairs for the nearby table.

I had been up on the unit only a few short minutes before the first verbal fight broke out. The security in the unit, unmoved by the event, responded with a sharp scolding. After a few more minutes, the argument that never really ended intensified and the movie was officially over, as blatantly decided by the guard. Still just sitting at the table with my single recipient of Bible study, he continued to ask questions and look on his fellow jail mates with scorn and disgust. Upon request, we talked about sin and the different consequences that so actively pursue it. After a few verses were found, he quickly said he already knew it all. After all, as he bluntly pointed out, he was the one in jail with two kids, not me. I got to walk out whenever I wanted without the stress of an upcoming court date or threat of being moved to the other jail. Yes, I have made bad choices before, but none of them have landed me in jail or anywhere close to that.

The tension in the room was rising as another verbal fight broke out and was turning physical at an escalating rate. The security guards jumped in immediately and the two boys involved were put in their secluded rooms. Security loudly and coarsely ordered the others into their rooms as well. However, the young man sitting with me was shown grace, as he was not any part of the problem.

Imagine sitting at a small table placed against the wall in between the two doors which sealed off two furious young men from the rest of the world. Neither of these prisoners were thrilled at their current location and were making their unhappiness known to the rest of the world through their loud protesting. While these unnerving distractions are blaring in the background, imagine sitting with the one inmate who intently wanted to understand more of God’s Word. Our Bibles were lying open on the table and I struggled to focus as he read the first few verses of John chapter one.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

I asked if he had any questions about what he had just read. Nothing specific came to mind for either of us, but he had a confused and concerned look on his face.

Darkness. We were surrounded by it. By this time, the two guys in their cells were angrily beating their fists against the door and verbally abusing the security guards who could not let them out. My new friend continued to read boldly...

There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

My heart was slowly breaking for these young men who so desperately need a positive example in their lives. As the yelling continued from within the individual cells, I hesitantly looked up at the clock. Part of me wanted to remain in the unit since I was working with someone who was interested, but another part of me was getting nervous and tense in the hostile environment. I was safe, so that was not my concern, but I was still a little uncomfortable. We stayed and finished up the section we were reading.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

We talked about the final few verses for a few minutes before it was time to leave. The phrase that stuck out to me was “and dwelt among us”.

Question: Who would want to live among criminals for the sake of loving and saving them?

Answer: The Word who became flesh would, did, and still does...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Conclusions from this Week.

  • Posted office hours save me SO much time. Just sayin’!
  • I don’t appreciate being talked down to by Professors. I know they’re brilliant, but all the same, I’m not 4.
  • If everyone kept an organized schedule, my schedule would be less hectic.
  • Finally putting up pictures in my room was a bittersweet thing. I love seeing my friends and family smiling at me 24/7, but now I wish they would say something.
  • Accordion music invokes indistinguishable emotions in me.
  • I will have the “mono” virus in my blood forever and symptoms will occasionally reoccur. Oh joy.
  • After over 6 years, I finally classify as a real guitar player because I officially have legit calluses on my finger tips.
  • Head-over-heals is a phrase I’ve never understood until now.
  • I have a intensely like/strongly loath relationship with alarms.
  • When people call me “Andrea Rose”, I think I’m in trouble.
  • Meal replacements from the Commons are more important than I’ve given them credit for in the past.
  • Dr. Sauer can turn any conversation into something about relationships.
  • I need to remember that when someone does something for me and it doesn’t go right, it really is “the thought that counts” and I need to honor that.
  • The people I look up to aren’t perfect and I shouldn’t expect them to be.
  • Mexico looks good. Lets go.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I like it when things are organized and coordinating. So having all my textbooks for this semester be shades of blue, green, and grey is a good thing!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Confession. Fact.

Confession: I think Josh Groban is amazing.

Fact: He is.

His new single Hidden Away was just released and the lyrics made me smile : ) Enjoy!

Over mountains and sky blue seas

On great circles will you watch for me

The sweetest feeling I’ve got inside

I just can’t wait to get lost in your eyes

And all these words that you meant to say

Held in silence day after day

Words of kindness that our poor hearts crave

Please don’t keep them

Hidden away


Sing it out so I can finally breathe

And I can take in all the same

Holding out for something I believe in

All I really need today

I want to free your heart

I want to see your heart

Please don’t keep your heart

Hidden away

You’re a wonder, how bright you shine

A flickering candle in a short lifetime

A secret dreamer that never shows

If no one sees you then nobody knows

And all these words you were meant to say

Held in silence day after day

Words of kindness that our poor hearts crave

Please don’t keep them

Hidden away

Sing it out so I can finally breathe

And I can take in all the same

Reaching our for someone I believe in

All I really need today

I want to feel your love

Will you reveal your love

Please don’t keep your love

Hidden away

I want to feel your heart

I want to see your heart

Please don’t keep your heart

Hidden away

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Learning to Rest

What an odd yet beautifully challenging concept.

Last year at this time, I found out that I had Mono. And this year I'm still struggling with the aftermath of it. The virus never goes away, but the symptoms aren't usually present. However, sometimes they are and right now is one of those times...

So once again, I’m learning the lesson of being content while resting. I struggled through learning this lesson last year and, in someways, am grateful for another chance.

I heard this piece of “Streams in the Dessert” this summer. The way it describes “rest” is unique and puts it into a different perspective... Enjoy!

Not without design does God write the music of our lives. Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the "rests." They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote. If we look up, God Himself will beat the time for us. With the eye on Him, we shall strike the next note full and clear. If we sadly say to ourselves, "there is no music in a ‘rest,’" let us not forget "there is the making of music in it." The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life. How patiently God works to teach us! How long He waits for us to learn the lesson!

– Ruskin, from Streams in the Desert

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And then I Wish...

I remember hearing the phone ring.

I remember the tone of my mom’s voice.

I remember quickly getting dressed.

I remember grabbing my cell phone.

I remember getting scolded for taking too long.

I remember the impatience in everyone’s voices.

I remember sitting at the foot of his bed crying.

I remember being told to be joyful in this horrible circumstance.

And then I remember getting upset.

I was sad because my uncle had just died, but I went from feeling sorrow to bitterness in a few seconds. It felt worse than a slap in the face. Someone close to me had just died tragically, and an hour later I was supposed to be joyful. I was in a lot of pain, but was supposed to be smiling and cheerful! As if...yeah right.

I remember the first hug I got after the ordeal being hours later.

I remember the first comforting words being hours later, as well.

I remember the anger slowly subsiding, but not fully leaving.

And then I got on an airplane and went back to school.

Still in shock of what had just happened, I went about my normal routine of classes, working, homework, outreach, and ministry team.

I remember pretending nothing had happened.

I remember thinking that I was just fine.

I remember the lingering anger that would randomly show up.

And it just hit me, 6 months later. My uncle is dead and my response was bitterness, resentment, and anger. My grieving stopped at feeling angry, then I let the whole thing go without a second though.

I wish I could go back and do those few painful days differently.

I wish I would have allowed people to comfort me.

I wish I was better at distinguishing emotions.

I wish...