Safety is Overrated

Like most mothers, I pray for the safety of my children and husband.  When they go off to school without me.  When I lay him down in his crib at night.  I pray God would keep them well, protected and far from disaster.

I want them not only to be safe but feel safe.

But down the road, I see there will be greater challenges to my peace when it comes to knowing they are safe.  Next year, my oldest will go to middle school.  Several of my friends have taken their children to college in other states for the first time this year.  A couple of friends have sons serving on the mission field in distant countries.  Safety is in question.

But as the prayers for safety leave my heart, the thing I desire more for them is to recognize the voice of God in their life and trust Him wholly.  I pray they would walk in the steps He has put out before them in everything they do.

From my own experience, I know God will allow us and sometimes place us in circumstances and places that will not feel safe.  Our safety and security is often challenged and we are left to question are we placing ourselves in the care of this world or the care of our Father?  Are we trusting that no matter where we go, who we are with and what happens that He is watching over us and will deliver us from harm?

More over, do we trust Him in our hurt,in sickness, in our suffering, as He gives and takes away?

Recently, a team of people from our church went to Haiti for a week.  My friend Phil usually sends emails while he is away telling of what he is seeing in Haiti and how he is further understanding our God and His ways.  Last week, he wrote this:

In church this morning, the pastor challenged everyone with a fairly simple question- do we really believe what is written in the Word? I think the question was posed in the form of whether it is “safe” to come to Haiti. I suppose the answer is, in turn, based on the question of whether God has called someone to come here. If the answer is no, then someone should not come. If the answer is “yes”, the answer should be the “safest” place to be is in the middle of God’s will. But what does that look like? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were in the middle of God’s will, yet they went into the furnace. Daniel was in the middle of God’s will, and 1-2-3, in he was tossed to the den. And we all know what happened to the prophets, and to the Christ himself. “Safety” from God’s perspective seems to be different than from mine. In the end, I think the question is not whether it is safe. For some people it is not  At least for me, the question is whether this is what I have been led to do. For the time being, the answer appears to be “yes.” I will leave the rest up to God.

What I want more than safety is for my family to be in the center of God’s will.  By that standard, safety is over rated.  But the struggle as a mom remains.  And likely… it always will.

Do you struggle with feeling safe?  Or worrying about others not being safe?  If so, how do you surrender it?

Learning to Pray

Yesterday, I spent the morning with the Gatekeepers of the South Bay. This is a monthly gathering of some really wonderful pastors from different churches in our community. Every month I am encouraged and inspired by their leadership and heart for the Church. It is by far, one of my favorite  days of “work.”

In our conversation yesterday, some were sharing their love for the early church fathers, particularly the Puritans. I came home inspired to bust out The Valley of Vision, a collection of prayers from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, used to encourage the readers personal prayer life.

Before I even got to the prayers, I read this in the preface by Arthur Bennett:

“The soul learns to pray by praying; for prayer is communion with a transcendent and immanent God who on the ground of his nature and attributes calls forth all the powers of the redeemed soul in acts of total adoration and dedication.”

How have you learned to pray?

God in the Details

My first son made his debut into the world about three and a half weeks early. As such, we were off to a slow and frustrating start with a few things… in particular nursing. Having read all the books, taken the classes and bought all the gadgets, I was certain I would be the La Leche poster child and have no problem with what was apparently so natural.

I was wrong.

Although it ended up well, feeding my baby was difficult. He lost weight. At one point, our pediatrician insisted it was time to supplement with formula. I felt like a failure.

It was in those moments where God taught me to pray in specifics. Maybe because I felt desperate, or maybe it was my raging hormones. Never the less, I decided to simplify and rather than pray for God to intervene in all the wide and deep desires in my heart, I began to submit the details to Him. I got specific with what was troubling me and praised Him for the particulars I saw Him answer. I asked Him to help me feed my child in that hour. I thanked him for two hours of sleep. I worshiped Him while rocking my son,

“O Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I seek, for when Your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds to me.”*

Since then, I’ve gotten very specific with my prayers and have tried to encourage others to do so as well. After all, a God that has the very hairs on your head numbered is a God who is interested in the details. As much as we know in our heads it isn’t true, we tend to think God is busy with bigger fish to fry. When I give Him the specifics, I can lift my eyes up to Heaven and away from myself.  I am more grounded. Less anxious and more focused. I can handle a situation, step by step and not get hung up on the details because I’ve given them over to Him. I can live better in the moment, trusting Him for what is to come.

What specifically do you need to trust God with?

*Keith Green, “Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful”

And Liberty and Justice for All

My friend Kim has an uncle that was an employee of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran when it was overtaken by President Ahmadinjad and his fellow students and militants on November 4, 1979. He was one of 52 people who were held for 444 days with the new Iranian government behind the scenes.

I’ll never forget the day I met him. When he entered the room, I was filled with an indescribable type of shame and I blurted out to him that I was so sorry. He gracefully smiled and said “oh dear child, that was so many years ago and you had nothing to do with it.”

Shortly after the hostage crisis began, my own great-uncle was an author and journalist was imprisoned for exercising the human right of free speech and standing for what is right. My uncle was released after several months in jail where he was tortured physically and forced to watch people killed in front of him. He was accidentally paroled and by the time the officials realized their mistake, he had gone into hiding and eventually escaped to Paris. My uncle continued to use his voice by writing and speaking of the beauty that was once Iran was and the hope of what could still be realized until he took his last breath.

Micah 6:8 states, “He has told you, O Man what is good and what the LORD requires of you… to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

My uncle acted justly using the gift of writing that God had given him. He loved mercy because although he was put to shame, punishment and driven to fear, he did not turn his back on the nation that turned its back on the people. Instead, he fought for her through his words and relationships with other voices of leadership, community and the nations.

Those of us who say we are making every attempt to walk humbly with our God say we walk, but along the way are we taking steps of justice on behalf of others? Are we showing mercy to those who need it? Mercy is defined as an act of kindness, compassion or favor…particularly when it is undeserved.

While the US government is choosing to limit the use of its voice, the Church is free to speak up in a way that respectfully transcends the decisions of our government. As my friend stated today, “the Saints have a voice of authority before the throne of Grace…what greater power of protest is there?”

So today, as reports of acid being dropped from helicopters flooded twitter, images of people being beaten and killed covered the internet and cable news channels, the fight for freedom, opinion, election has indeed escalated.

We celebrate Father’s Day today. Let’s not lose sight of the Father whose heart breaks for those whom He sent His Son to die for. Many need encouragement that comes with knowing the fullness to the Oneness of the God they are crying out to… there is love, grace and mercy found in Jesus and there is faith, power and courage in the Spirit. We have seen this displayed in the history we share with Persians through Esther, Mordecai, Nehemiah and the Wise Men who came bearing gifts when the most beautiful revolution of all began.

Church – let us sing and not be silent, let us intervene, intercede, speak out and pray for justice for the oppressed, mercy for those who are crying out, courage to continue to rise up and give way to true freedom and righteous leadership. Let’s ask for wisdom and direction to move in the direction that is only according the will of God. Let us not shrink back from giving a hand through media support, words of encouragement and our fervent prayers.

If you have a voice, use it.

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”

Blessed are the Peacemakers

1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11″Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

As a child of the 1979 revolution, all the scenes and images of what has been reported from Iran are eerily familiar. I am now a Iranian-American and completely immersed in my new culture here. But one never forgets where they came from.

My perspective over the last 30 years is that most of the people born after the revolution have been raised or have become products of their environment and have generally been politically apathetic. Forgive me if I’m wrong here. But it seems that the general lack of morale, discouragement from their leadership, fear of getting in trouble have left people wanting to keep a generally low profile, living their lives to the best of their ability and staying out of the ways of trouble.

President Obama is receiving a fair share of criticism for his hesitation to get involved in the situation. While the U.S. is known for coming to the rescue or meddling as some people put it, there may come a time for overt action. However, I think there is something to be said about waiting and allowing the Iranian people continue to rise up and find their voices that have been supressed for so many years. Two-thirds of the nation are under the age of 35. I am 35 and just begining to feel like I’m getting some gumption to do what God is calling me to do… I wonder for them, how long these feelings of oppression and captivity have been festering in the Iranian people and finally reaching a point of explosion.

It’s good to let them find their voice, THEY need to experience their own courage and recognize that what they want is GOOD.

I also love how the U.S. is getting involved in less overt ways. That computer techs are helping Iranians get access to internet to let us know the cries of their hearts. I love even up until this year, when you heard the name Iran, it was associated with “axis of evil,” “nuclear threat,” etc. But today, the world is rallying around the people of Iran which is truly Iran. There is solidarity, compassion, support and love for people. We are seeing that the very things that we often take for granted like liberty, freedom, justice, our voices, our dreams and the realization of our visions are things worthy of fighting for.

Pray for Iranians to continue to find their voices and let their voices be heard, pray for courage, boldness, protection for the innocent, justice for the oppressors. Pray for salt and light to show themselves in that part of earth so Light will shine. Pray for our President Obama, for him to have wisdom, courage, boldness, mercy when its required and heart that breaks for the things that break the heart of God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.