Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cross Quarter Day

This weekend brings us to the first cross quarter day of 2015, the midway point between winter solstice and spring equinox. The days are slowly lengthening as the sun begins to make his way higher in the sky. I'm starting to see a few fleeting glimpses of spring, hints of green here and there peeking out from the dead, brown lawn. Meditating on this threshold into spring my thoughts turn to one of our visits to Central Asia. The raw beauty of the mountains was amazing but it was the middle of the dry season and, like my yard, the sparse plants were dry, lifeless.

We were there working with local Christians setting up sewing centers to help poor women make a living. Through our translators the village ladies told of the rapes and other abuses they had endured during the not-to-distant civil war. During the conflict these women and girls became widows and orphans. And their tragedy continues as they struggle to live without adequate food or housing, very little electricity, no running water or sewer, only scarcely available wood or dried animal dung for heating and cooking. Their stories reveal hearts as dry and hard as the rugged, desiccated mountains around us.

Laying on my mat that night trying to get to sleep I thought about all I had seen and heard the last few days. How could we expect them to be open to our stories of a God who loves them and cares for them? The sewing centers are helping but it's not enough. There are so many women and children hungry and hurting, desperate for someone to help, desperate for someone to love them. As I lay there wrestling with these thoughts God sent an unexpected shower dropping the temperature and bringing a few drops of precious rain.

Sunrise the next morning revealed an amazing site. Overnight God had painted the parched mountainside a verdant green and brought life back to the dead vegetation. This reminded me of when God brought Ezekiel to the valley of dry, dead bones and asked him if they could be brought back to life. Ezekiel replied,” Only You, O Lord, know.” Then God showed Ezekiel that they could indeed be brought back to life just as easily as God brought these dry, parched mountains back to life last night.

The sewing centers we set up are just a drop in the bucket compared to all the need. But, just as a few drops of rain awakened the mountainside that night, with the Lord’s blessing our caring, our efforts can make a difference in many lives. Will the battered and abused women and children of Central Asia come to know that someone does care about them?  Will they come to know that there is a God who loves them?  “Only You, O Lord, know.”

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