party delayed and some help

7 12 2011

One piece of advice I received when doing missions training years ago was not to write letters when feeling down – the news would come across as far too negative.  Last night was a very down night and my thoughts were trying to process what had happened during the day. 

Yesterday afternoon. The table was set out. Multihued leaves covered a table cloth, specially chosen to look good for Christmas.   Sodas had been bought (in pouring rain) and a cake was baked.  The floors, left in a mess from a few days before, were swept and the venue was ready.  I had spent hours thinking about and then putting together gift bags for each student.  Certificates of achievement had been written out. 

And I sat and waited.

And I waited.

In disappointment and frustration at the futility of all my efforts. 

As I sat on the plastic chair before the room I looked at all the empty plastic chairs around the table.  The soda bottles, and straws, waiting to be used.  Just lying there.  Not serving their intended purpose at all.

There was another story mentioned in Luke ( 14:15-24) that my thoughts were drawn to.  A huge feast, far more lavish than our little party, was set out for invited guests.  A messenger, perhaps several, scurried out of the festive home to call the guests – things were ready for their arrival!  The party was about to begin!

And I am certain that the messengers were very hesitant to return to the Master with the news.  Several excuses.  And the guests would not be attending.

Getting married, purchase of new land – all totally good excuses that would get a person out of several important tasks in our world now.

But the excuses would keep the invited ones from the celebration.  There would be no party at all for them. 

I knew what the excuse would be – the rain came pouring down soon before 3.  I knew it would keep the invited ones from arriving.  But still – they would miss out. 

 

There is a celebration far more significant, as we have been reading about in our Ladies Bible study group.  What a celebration.  And if one looks at Revelation in detail judgment pales in comparison to the number of chances and the longing with which the Master seeks company at the feast.  He longs for all to come and gives chance after chance and longs for the company of His creation. 

In Luke the messengers were sent out to look in the alleyways and scummy hangouts, where we would not really like to be seen.  Gather those ones – those the world often despises.  Gather the ones who are hungry, rejected, physically restricted by different kinds of bonds. 

Still there was place. And still the Master waited for more to be invited, longing to see every place filled. 

Oh, how He loves us.  How amazing that we are welcomed.  With our blind spots, our lame ideas, our crippling hang-ups.  We who seek to hide in alleys, and sometimes even choose a gutter.  He calls us to come.  He longs to share His feast with us.  Not a simple meal.  Not a large Christmas dinner, even.  But a huge, massive wedding feast to stave off hunger in those who are malnourished and satisfy the longings of every soul.

Oh, God. Help that I get past excuses.  Let me not be kept from meeting with you because of even valid things that get in the way.  May I be one who is hungering and thirsting for righteousness. May I come running to your feasts.  May I run eagerly even for quiet humble meals with You.  I don’t want to be held back by anything. Not once.

But I was challenged to look beyond me too. The need to reach others and bring them to the table struck me most. What a huge table is waiting.  How the Father must long to see so many there – He is waiting and waiting, sending out messengers throughout all the world, again and again.  The challenge to fill every space remains.  May not one of these that we are working with  here in Uganda miss out.  The mind space of excuses thrives here.  May that not be a stumbling block to keep one soul away from the feast. 

And all the other nations.  The Spirit and the Bride say COME to each one.  Please continue to pray.  Pray for laborers who are strong and committed to go into all the world.  There are hundreds and thousands of opportunities to minister.  Pray for the space right where you are.  So many in ‘developed’ countries see no need for a Saviour when they are perfectly able to run their lives and feed themselves.  Pray that they would realise that life is meaningless if it is all about the now.  If there is no thought given to that marriage Feast of the Lamb, then life is utterly vapid.  So many at places at the table await souls to fill them.  We are perhaps the last generation.  Will our prayers, our going, our seeking out the lost for God’s spirit to save them, will this be what finally brings the Lamb back to claim His own?

I got a tiny sense of how it must hurt our Father – He has set everything out – will the cost be futile for so many?  As I sat  mulling, even fermenting in my disappointment, the rain dried up. The students arrived and we could go on.  Although they were late the party continued. I had considered leaving – an hour later than we should have started – but the people came. And we partied. 

(I did use this parable of the Feast as my talk for yesterday; urging excuses to be done away with.)

The spaces were filled and the ladies enjoyed themselves, as I had hoped!

(the goodie bags and certificates in the pic were the suggestions of the ladies – so proud of what they received!)

And then today arrived. 

Last week I had waited 20 minutes and then drove off when the ladies did not arrive where I said I would meet them.  Today they were there, waiting! WOW! 

My heart thrilled as we headed to the house next to where we live and the 15 orphan girls who live in that home.  The principle I long for the ladies to get is that something only becomes meaningful to us if we can give some of it away.  God’s blessing to Abraham in Gen 12:2, he would be blessed and through Abraham all the nations of the world would be blessed – that is something we live by.  If God blesses us it is so that we can bless others.

So we were going to bless.  There is no way that my little leftie self could teach all those girls (and their minders) how to knit – but the ladies did me proud!  There were a few hiccups but things turned out so well: the girls learned, some quickly and some with much difficulty.  They strained over too-tight yarn, they fumbled with the needles – but they appreciated the time of somebody sitting close, spending moments of a attention on them alone. 

There were a few painful thumbs to love (this was not a knitting injury, but from an accident yesterday!)

and a few babies to step over and keep entertained (my ladies brought their babies with)

But I feel there was a sense of accomplishment.  At having given time when there could have been an excuse.  At learning new skills that may provide some form of income. At spending time, face to face, perhaps with arms entwined, sharing hearts and lives.

Forget Mo-vember! We are creating some mo-moments in knitting!

And smiles like this speak deep into my heart…

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3 responses

7 12 2011
snortham

Love, love, love it. You are amazing, and such an instrument of the Lord. Well done.

8 12 2011
karenanddeon

Thank you, Stephanie.
We pray together for the people God has entrusted us with for now!

8 12 2011
kristieinbc

That is so great that you are teaching knitting to these willing learners! And that picture of the baby with the green yarn on her head needs to be entered in a contest.

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