I Am Thinking of Benjamin

I am thinking of Benjamin,
t
urning around in the airport taxi to learn my destination,
a Baptist boy come to the city to make a living,
and Pierre, the taxi dispatcher
who winks and gives me half the going rate,
a price he reserves for those he considers friends.

I am thinking of the city as I last saw it,
the mountains and their mining scars
masked by rainclouds,
the tin-roof tenements hugging the coastline,
and the church roof that announces “JESUS LOVES YOU”
at the end of the airplane wing
as it turned toward the sea.

I am thinking of all the names and faces, familiar places
buried now beneath sand and ash and rubble and stone,
the sound on the news of voices crying, 
the dazed look in the eyes of children, staggering
in the streets like wounded deer, trailing blood,
and the overwhelming sound of people worshiping
atop the ruins of their fallen houses,
a sign and a wonder to behold.

I am thinking tonight of the miracle of faith, 
the mustard seed that grows into a mighty tree.
Faith, the evidence of things hoped for, the substance of things unseen,
the miracle of those who, losing the world, are lost to it in return–
men and women of whom the world is not worthy.

As the television glows, all I can do is think of Benjamin, and Pierre,
and the sorrowful, triumphant sound
the Beloved of the Lord is lifting up tonight.

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Winter

Winter is always my least favorite time of year. I don’t like cold weather and I don’t like the way the trees look stripped bare of their leaves. Adding to my dislike for winter is the frustration the last few weeks have brought. Due to the seasonal nature of the job where I work, I’ve been getting about half the hours that I was getting over the summer. This was to be expected, but I have had an insanely difficult time finding another job. To make matters worse, I was forced to move about of the place I was living about mid-December, so I am now paying about twice the rent and driving four times as far to work as I was. As day after day of filling out applications, e-mailing resumes, and going to interviews without any success passes, I have begun to wonder whether I will ever be able to find work.

Winter is the season when seeds planted in the fall lie fallow, seeming to be dead until the spring, when they push through the soil and bloom. There are so many parallels between these seasonal dynamics and my own life. After the long process of being educated and refining my understanding of the Scriptures and vision for what I would like to build with my life, the last couple of years have brought a season of seeming fruitlessness when nothing I touch seems to succeed. I remind myself regularly of Jesus’ statement that a grain of wheat has to fall into the ground and die before it can bear fruit, but that doesn’t make the waiting for spring too much easier. If you think of me, I would greatly appreciate a word of prayer on my behalf

Haiti, May Your Soup Bowl Overflow!

In Haiti, the land of my childhood, January 1 is not only New Year’s
Day but also Independence Day. It was on this day in 1804 that Haiti
officially became independent from France, throwing off two centuries of
slavery to become the world’s first independent black republic. To
celebrate, Haitians eat soup joumou, a soup made from a squashy kind of
pumpkin, laden with cabbage, turnips, and large pieces of beef rubbed
with lime. It is believed that the newly freed slaves, forced for so
long to serve the good food to their masters, chose to make it a symbol
of their independence one they were free. Never again would master tell
slave what he could eat. The Haitian would eat his freedman’s soup under
his own vine and fig tree and profit gladly from the abundance of
peace.

Sadly, for most Haitians, the Haiti of 2013 is nearly the polar
opposite of the 1804 ideal. Today, Haiti is a weary, devastated nation
teetering on the edge of extinction. Nevertheless, we serve a God who
raises the dead, “calling things that are not as though they were” (Rom.
4:17). Jesus stated bluntly that the Kingdom of God belongs to the
poor, and promised that the meek would inherit the earth. There are many
in Haiti now who are of His flock, who hear the shepherd’s voice. I
keep praying that as the Gospel bears fruit in their lives, it will
spill over into an abundance of common grace for all their fellow
countrymen. That is my prayer for Haiti in 2013 — individual, communal,
and societal restoration through the overflow of forgiven hearts that
are moving into the “Yes and Amen” promises God makes to those who love
Him.

Oh, may it be so! May Haiti’s soup bowl overflow in 2013. May it know
abundance and prosperity once again. May so many centuries of injustice
be washed away by the rivers of God’s justice rolling like a river, His
righteousness like a mighty stream. May the light of God’s truth pierce
through spiritual darkness. May the knowledge of His love bind up the
wounds caused by so much hatred. May He cause the sun of righteousness,
who has risen with healing in His wings, to rise. May the day come when
Haiti’s beautiful people go forth leaping, like calves newly released
from the stall (Mal. 4:2).