Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cherry Blossoms, Sunsets and Heroes

I spent four days a couple weeks ago in Washington D.C. It fulfilled my dream of walking down the streets of DC, under the cherry blossoms, gazing at the sun as it sets. (I decided I want to get married under cherry blossoms, surrounded by tulips... okay or at least when we celebrate as the bride of Christ in heaven, I'm confident there will be cherry blossoms:) Witnessing the beauty of creation scattered among towering buildings and monuments where great ideas and philosophies swirl, was almost more than my soul could handle. It was blissful. I've been to DC before, but it seems every time I go, at different stages of my life, things become more meaningful.


Some thoughts...

I experienced absurd irony.

After touring the US Capital on a beautiful Friday morning, as we walked along, we noticed hundreds of  people wearing pink shirts. Upon closer look, we realized they represented Planned Parenthood (huge abortion provider in U.S.). They were obviously protesting as we watched them make their way to the steps of the capital. Unknown to us, we happened to be there on the same day that Congress was deciding weather to cut federal funding (over $300 million of our tax dollars) for Planned Parenthood. Men, women, young children, the elderly, pregnant women, everyone... they marched on up to Capital Hill... 

Later that afternoon, we toured the Holocaust Museum. For two hours, we walked through, remembering all the brutal details of the lives lost not many decades ago. Remembering a genocide on an entire people group. We saw their faces, their belongings, heard their voices, read their writing, and walked through the train that transported them to their fate. America is abhorred at what these people went through at the hands of Hitler. But since the last time I walked through the Holocaust Museum, another exhibit has been added... "from Memory to Action."

This exhibit talks about the world saying "never again," yet the genocides that have occurred even after the Holocaust, in Rwanda, the Balkins and Darfur. This exhibit encourages you to be informed and take action. We cannot stand by and let this happen. We cannot let innocent lives be taken and murdered, no matter how poor or inconvenient they are.

Yet outside, just a couple miles down the road, hundreds of people are marching, begging government to not only allow, but help pay for us to kill our own children.

Yet just down the street from this sea of protests, sits the original Declaration of Independence that reads, "That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE..." 

Yet just a few miles away from this age old document, lie hundreds and hundreds of tombstones of the men and women who gave their lives to protect our lives, to preserve our country, to preserve life. 

If this isn't the most absurd irony, I don't know what is. 

It reminds me of the lyric from a Mumford and Sons song... "you desired my attention, but denied my affections, my affections." We desire God's blessings on our nation, we claim we want to see peace and good in this world, yet we deny the only person who IS that peace and goodness.  

I remembered the lives of heroes and abolitionists past.

One of those abolitionists being Abraham Lincoln. Standing before the grand monument of Abraham Lincoln, reading the words of his address before the nation, penetrates your soul. In a country where slavery was accepted at the time, he used the position of authority God gave him to pursue truth and justice. He also makes not one, but many references to God, our Creator, now inscribed on those walls, for all to see. There are those great people in this world who simply just "get it" and those who don't. Abe Lincoln got it. He knew the giver of life.

I fellowshipped with and listened to stories and encouragement from modern day heroes.

The icing on the cake of our trip was our last two days at the International Justice Mission Global Prayer Gathering. I'll just say this... I was in heaven. The first night was a banquet, and Gary Haugen spoke (founder/president of IJM), who is my absolute hero. His words soaked into my heart, and prepared us for the weekend ahead. We sat in the balcony, and as the worship band played that night, it was a breathtaking sight to look down at hundreds of God's children standing, worshipping and singing together. It was impossible not to let the the excitement build inside of you, knowing that one day this is what heaven will be like. Not only that, but the next day consisted of petitioning God's heart on behalf of the oppressed. We heard updates and stories and then split into different rooms to pray, each one representing a different country where an IJM office is located. Of course the Mumbai room was my first stop. As Jon, the field office director, shared about the prayer needs, I felt like I was back in Mumbai, sitting with the staff, praying together about our day ahead... how I miss it. It was so encouraging to hear stories throughout the entire weekend of the past year, of rescue and restoration, knowing that God allowed me to play a small part in it last year!

The weekend brought reunions with old friends, coworkers and fellow abolitionists, some who I haven't seen in several months or over a year. I LOVE these people. There's something about fellowshipping with kindred spirits who have the same passions as you that's just encouraging, exciting and soothing all at the same time. I met new people... including several of us sharing a meal with the Rwanda field office director... what a humble, amazing man. 

Overall, these four days exceeded my expectations. God is SO good; He is SO faithful. He knew the vision, inspiration and encouragement I needed. In fact, it was hard to come home. It's hard to come back to your own small little town, being faithful in the small tasks God has given you for the moment, when you want to be radically changing the world. But I'm reminded that it's in those small tasks, in our faithfulness and obedience, in our determination, that we will soon change the world. 

If there's one thing I learned this weekend, it was that the work of justice requires faithfulness and patience... pure, utter, patience. "Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." He will come through, always.

"Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. 
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for Him."
~Psalm 37:5-7

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