Monday, May 16, 2011

The Ultimate Question - Why?

The ultimate question is summed up in one word..."why." Why does God allow certain things to happen? If He truly is in control as the Bible says, why didn't he stop the earthquake in Haiti or the events of 9/11? There are no easy answers but there is a lingering truth that shines from the shadows and debris.

The song above struck a special cord with me. I understand it. I imagine most of you can pinpoint a time in your life when the events in your life were awful. A loved one was suffering from an incurable illness, died from cancer, your home was ripped from you like those in the South have experienced lately, you were fired or something you had worked for your whole life came to nothing.

In those moments, I have cried, questioned why God would allow these things to happen, but looking back, the Lord used those times of questioning and trials to show me Himself. They were mercies in disguise. A year ago, I moved home from college, no job prospects, rejected from several grad schools, a very low bank account, no community. Now, I have two jobs, a mentor helping me get my first book published, money to provide for my bills and expenses, and an amazing community group of girls who continually lift me up in prayer.

I have changed and grown in the last year because of all the ‘no’s’, redirects, disappointments, and new dreams. The trials of the last year were mercies in disguise to bring me somewhere so much better than I could have planned a year ago. The Lord’s plans for me are far better than my own. This is such a minor issue compared to the plight of those in Haiti or the grief of those who lost someone in the recent tornadoes, but because it was such a big deal to me, the Lord used it.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE.’”

After the storm, there’s a rainbow. Sometimes you just have to look closely to see it. He is the great I AM of mercies in disguise. Will you trust him in the midst of your trials and disappointments? Will you look to see the imprint of His hand in the midst of your brokenness? There are no easy answers. Very few words will soothe the pain. But if His word is true as I believe it to be, then He is good in spite of your circumstance and promises a hope and future despite the chaos. There is rest and peace in understanding the goodness of this God. "Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Psalm 30:5

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Compassion for the Confused

"We Are the World: Haiti"
They say Haiti is 80% Catholic, 20% Protestant, and 100% Voodoo. My heart breaks for Haiti, for the cultural confusion and the spiritual darkness that is rooted in a violent history. My heart breaks for the Christians who have accepted it so as not to offend. My heart breaks that the presentation of voodoo in my book may offend some because it speaks truth.

About 2 weeks ago, I was royally stuck in the middle of my story. (There is a voodoo doctor in my book who is a conflicted antagonist.) I was stuck because I want so desperately to portray him and his culture accurately. I knew next to nothing about voodoo, only that what I have seen in movies of dolls and pins is not an accurate portrayal. So I dug deeper, wholeheartedly desiring to shed light on this culture in a way that  respects and loves the people who practice. What I found was chilling. Not only is voodoo not like the Hollywood version, it is much worse. After watching several news broadcast voodoo rituals and ceremonies of spirits and sacrifices, I am convinced the spirits are very real and very ungodly. 

I prayed, researched, and asked questions. I was advised to portray voodoo as peaceful and the people that follow both voodoo and Jesus as Christian. But here is the startling Biblical truth...God speaks to Moses in Exodus 20:3 and says, "You shall have NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME." God didn't sugar coat how important His holiness and individuality are and neither will I, though it may offend some. I apologize if this truth offends you. I will not apologize for the truth itself. Just as I spoke of life earlier this week, abundant, sweet life in Christ, Haiti is not only locked in a cycle of death from the earthquake but from spiritual blindness and confusion.

In John 14:6 says, "Jesus answered, 'I AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'" The people of Haiti cannot straddle a fence by worshiping God and following voodoo spirits. It isn't possible. Many are walking a road of death that expands past the grave and it absolutely breaks my heart. Please join me in praying for the people of Haiti. Pray that the Lord will give me the words to say. They are not bad people, just confused and lost. Pray that people will read the character of the voodoo doctor and have compassion on him as Jesus did to those who crucified Him - "Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'" 

The woman in the brown dress in the photo is a voodoo priestess one of my friends met on a trip to Haiti who was interested in Jesus. Pray that eyes will be open and ears will be receptive. The song above inspires me daily to pray for the people of Haiti, not only their daily lives but for them to know Jesus and experience LIFE. There are some very Godly people in Haiti who love their people and want to see it changed for Jesus. Voodoo is a looming reality and some in Haiti confuse the two religions or follow voodoo because it is traditional or cultural. Only Jesus can change their hearts and shine truth into darkness.