seeing beauty in broken pieces
Adalia was proud of her creation
"When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Luke's Gospel Chapter 13 verse 12
This Sunday I had the honor of preaching at Peninsula Baptist Church in Gig Harbor, WA. The fine folks there have been faithful friends and supporters, not only of me, but of many of our International Ministries missionaries throughout the world. As we explored Luke 13:10-17 together we saw the kingdom of God in new ways. As we bent our bodies during the reading of the story, we felt for a few moments a small connection with the woman who suffered being bent out of shape for many years before Jesus changed her point of view. We, too, like the synagogue leader, were called to a new perspective, a new way of seeing people, and a new way to live and glorify God. We were reminded that Jesus spoke freedom into the woman's life before he healed her, seeing, calling and proclaiming her true character and identity before she stood up straight and glorified God in the sanctuary. In Luke's Gospel telling, this transformational event, was a picture of the kingdom in between two parables about trees. I picture it like a hammock strung between two trees. Throughout Luke's retelling, Jesus trys to explain to His followers what the kingdom of God is and how to see the world from God's perspective, but it is this event, this healing moment, this picture portrayed in real lives that captures our attention. Jesus not only sees the woman that no one else really sees, He calls her out, bringing her to the forefront and reminding her and all those present, of her true identity as a daughter of Abraham, a child of God, a reflection of grace and a redeemed vessel created to glorify God.
In my travels lately back to Costa Rica and most recently to Deborah's House in Tijuana, Mexico I saw kingdom glimpses in women set free, glorifying God with their transformed-by-grace lives. Whenever I see Doña Cora, her gentle spirit inspires me to keep investing in women who can make a difference in their communities. Though Cora never had the privilege to study formally in school, she said to me recently, "I am learning new things everyday." As a the leader of the candle co-op at El Centro de Transformación Mariposa in La Guacima, Costa Rica she has learned to create a variety of beautiful candles, lead a team of other women to manufacture and sell their creations, and contribute support to a ministry that invests in children and families in her community. Her beautiful life and the art she produces give glory to God, a picture of kingdom to me.
Edith stopped by the church when I was there in Costa Rica and hugged me for a long time, tears welling up in her eyes. Though no longer living in the community, she visits her friends there from time to time. She mentioned that on tough days she remembers my hugs, my encouragement to use her gifts with children to make a difference in the world, my believing that she was better than she believed herself to be, and that having a Mylinda hug again reminded her of God's faithful love that never leaves her. Her touch, our 'God-with-skin-on' encounter was a picture of kingdom to me.
When Adalia asked if I would be willing to share something with the residents of Deborah's House (a residential shelter for women and their families recovering from domestic violence) during my visit to the US/ Mexico border last week, I was honored and stumped about what to bring. Along with my other trips planned for this year, I came to learn from my colleagues and their ministry partners what God was doing in their neighborhoods and how I could be a part of helping them proclaim freedom for women and children in their contexts. I stopped by a flooring company and they let me scavenge through their throw away pile where I found broken pieces of marble and granite. Armed with two very heavy plastic containers filled with rock, we headed over the border to create something beautiful from brokenness. In the process of making stepping stones for a future prayer garden at the shelter, working in teams of two, the women became more and more confident and giddy in their work. We reflected about the lessons we can learn from this art project. Many shared their stories of broken dreams and painful places where they felt just like the jagged edges of their rocks. They also saw how God was reforming their lives and taking what was thrown away and making something beautiful out of them. Creating together and seeing the joy in their proud faces was a picture of kingdom to me.
Your partnership in the good news of Christ's freeing transformation is a picture of kingdom to me. As I travel this year in Costa Rica, Spain, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Chile and Mexico, and share with supporters in Washington, California, Montana, Illinois and Massachusetts, I'd appreciate your continued prayers and support.