Icy Dichotomy

ice patterns

Ice along the side of a river creates an intricate design that makes us wonder at the beauty made by the Creator. It seems a tame reflection of what the winter temperatures can do.

and then there is ice whose barrage fills nimble branches with excessive weight…and rips heavy limbs clean off their core.

Last week we were hit with an ice storm here in Ontario (parts of Michigan were hit, as well as Quebec and New Brunswick). Much of the weight of the storm culminated in freezing rain that fell at such an exponential rate that it devastated a fair amount of the city of Toronto, downing trees all over the city and taking out a tremendous amount of the power network for the city. It has been over a week, and there are still many without power.

As I drove with my family down to St Catherine’s yesterday, it because a bit more of a reality for me as I witnessed many of the trees along the highway snapped into pieces as result of the weight of the ice. It was sad to see so much new growth damaged by this storm. And at the same time, my eye was mesmerized by the glistening of the ice on the branches that still remained and those who now lay dormant on the snow covering.

Sometimes I find myself struggling between beauty and destruction..and trying to make sense of each of them. I have seen pictures from the ice storm that have leaves and berries encased in ice, and its a beautiful sight, something that would be hard to recreate with human hands. And then in the next shot I see trees fallen on cars, electric lines laying in sagging heaps and know that for so many this power won’t be restored for awhile, and hopefully insurance will help with the car.

It seems that life is made up of moments of beauty and destruction. Moments where my eyes are filled with glory, where I sit mesmerized at what I am privileged to take in…but moments later my heart and mind are overwhelmed by devestation seen, read about, heard about..and I struggle to make sense of this dichotomy. I know its the push and pull of sin and grace, destruction and renewal, old life and new life…but sometimes it seems to overwhelm me and i’m not sure where to find a middle ground, and what if there is no middle ground. Perhaps what I’m searching for is truth, something to cling too..and maybe that isn’t a middle ground, perhaps I might have to swing one way or another in my thoughts.

I am thankful for moments of awe and wonder in the midst of destruction and decay….so thankful that God still plants hope, even as our earth is slowly fading away.

can not say you didn’t know

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”   ―     William Wilberforce

A month ago I purchased a book called ‘Every Shattered Thing’ written by Elora Ramirez.

I have long been an admirer of her writing on her blog, and was excited to see she had written a novel. I had downloaded the free first chapter from Amazon, and before November it was on sale, so I jumped at the chance to purchase it.

I was not prepared for what I read.

I was not prepared for the depth of the story. For the horror of the story. For the truth of the story.

Because there is very little that would inform you that this book is about a girl who lives with extreme physical and sexual abuse every day, and her eventual journey out of it.

And I’m glad that the tag lines and the first chapter didn’t give this away, because I’m not sure that I would have downloaded it. I know how easy it is for me to absorb stories, especially ones as graphic as these and let them seep deep into my soul. I probably would have justified not making the purchase by thinking ‘I can’t handle that’. And I would have been right…but I would have missed out. Because know that I have read it, I hope that I will never be the same.

As Wilberforce so aptly put it, “…you can never say again that you did not know.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about the book, about its contents. I couldn’t stop reading it. And yet I was horrified and overwhelmed.

I know about the illegal trade of people for the sex industry. I know of their circumstances but really have no idea of what they are going through. While I know these things…they have as of yet to light a fire in my life that something needs to be done. That this can be changed, this must be changed, this must end.

I also just saw a video that an organization that fights sex slavery put out that put on display a shocking diorama of the people who are bought and sold during huge sporting events like the Final Four, the Superbowl and the World Cup. It was sobering…and I’m not sure about the entire way in which it was done…but it proved a very provocative point. This exists…in OUR country, somewhere that we can DO something about it…and now that we know, we can either act or choose to turn away with that knowledge in our minds.

And being the pessimist I am, I often think…what can one person do, what can 10 people do…the problem is so large and there are so many ways in which they are trafficked, how can we even begin to make a difference. I know of groups like A21 and Destiny Rescue that are making a difference internationally, and I’m thankful for the way in which they step out into this often overlooked ministry that is heart breaking, and bringing hope and healing in these situations.

I have a friend who lives in Hamilton who has begun a charity called ‘Priceless’ a fundraiser whose money is given towards the individuals and organizations with whom she has come into contact with through her abolition work towards the eradication of human trafficking and sex slavery. She knows this is happening and is doing something to change it.

And I wonder…there are so many things in this world that have been changed because people stepped up and said ‘this isn’t right, we will NOT stand for this’…and yet, will I DO something or will I continue to sit on this knowledge and just let it be something that bothers me but doesn’t break into the reality of my life, and seeking to make a difference in at least one person’s life who may be impacted by these heinous crimes.

 

Faith Conviction

In the multiple relationships that I have had over the years, I have chosen to date non-Christians because 1) they were available and I was intrigued by them and 2) I hadn’t been treated all that well by the “Christian” guys I had dated. Among the many things that I learned dating each of these guys, was that I didn’t trust myself with the boundaries I created. More often then not I had guys that would have followed the boundaries I told them wre important to me, but I didn’t.

A friend of mine recently started dating a guy that isn’t a Christian. I had a hard time wrapping my head around it, but I’m not really sure why, because I myself had dated numerous guys who didn’t believe like me or believe at all. I told myself I couldn’t say anything to her because who was I to say something, when I myself had been through a similar situation.

But this is not so much about her relationship as it is about my attitude. I’m still not sure why I reacted as I did. I was torn between telling her it was a really bad idea and telling her to date him. I was torn perhaps, by the fact that she was going to date someone and I wasn’t, even though most days I’m okay with being single. I was torn mostly though because though she struggled with what to do, she started seeking God more than I’ve ever seen…and I think I was jealous of this. Because even though she really wants him to come to know the Lord, she knows that might not happen. But she’s praying…and I’m not. And that bothers me.

After talking with me, and I’m sure getting conflicting advice, her small group gave her advice to continue to lift him up to the Lord and pray for his salvation…not necessarily to justify the relationship, but because she knew that he needed the Lord. She shared more about her faith and her relationship with the Lord and how they believed differently then I think she has with many people. and I was so intrigued by this boldness in her.

Today her boyfriend came to our church. He grew up with a more mainline, traditional church upbringing, so I was wondering how our church would go over. Its not wild, but there is a worship band, we sit in an auditorium at a school and the preacher wears regular clothes, no robes or clerical collars. He seemed to be okay with it all.

But as I sat there, I was convicted. Because I could see that God was indeed at work, weather her boyfriend comes to know the Lord or not…because she was devoting time to serious prayer before the Lord, seeking him devoutly in her scripture reading, pleading before the Lord for the salvation of those who she works with and her boyfriend. And here I was not believing that he’d come to salvation.

And while I have no idea whether he will or not, I am ashamed to say that I have said more than once to her that I would pray for her, and for him and for their relationship, and for the Lord’s work in his life…and what i’ve offered has been something more like a breathe in passing, not spoken in belief…or desire to see something happen.

And as I saw him sitting in our church, hearing the Word of God preached, having him open to reading his Bible, engaging in conversation about relationship with God and what Christ came to earth for, I see him looking into the Truth..and I can’t imagine how this brings hope to her heart, though she’s striving to trust that God will have happen what he wants to happen, whether he makes a choice to believe or not. But i was convicted in that moment of how little faith I have, of how I rarely commit those I love who don’t know the Lord to prayer nor do I seek boldness to speak truth to them.

Oh Lord, grow my faith. Help me to seek your face. Help me to know you more. Help me to pray BELIEVING that you are who you say you are, and who my heart is coming to know you are. Please forgive my unbelief. My flesh is so weak, and I desire your Spirit to help me overcome and to strive for more of you, a deeper knowledge and desire for you and to share you with others. Thank you for showing me the blindness in my eyes. Please change my attitude. Please help me truly lift my dear friend and her boyfriend and others in my life up before you in earnest, believing prayer..and may your will be done dear Lord.