01 August – “Teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12). The metaphysics and the physics of the space-time continuum are strange companions. Brilliant minds have confirmed that time is not a mathematical constant. And in our simple lives, we experience the same principle: that time must fluctuate. Although there is no equation that governs experience as it governs physics, we nevertheless know intuitively and bear out in the wrinkles that are starting to form around our eyes that time both runs and crawls simultaneously in Uganda where there is ever work to do and yet never much to show for it. The calendar demands that it has been a month since our last newsletter, but in our gut we marvel that these 31 days seem to have taken months to elapse. Nothing happens in our days, however, everything happens in our moments.
We continue to wait for every decision that remains on someone else’s desk to decide, but still we cannot escape the demands of each day. So August comes and finds us still knowing nothing official—about adoption, about permanent placement, about our short- or long-term place—and that is admittedly wearisome. But all the while the water still needs fetching, the dishes still need washing, and the car still needs its oil changed. For instance, I have, in this last 7-day stretch, taught 13 hours of lectures over three days to two different classes of students. With little more than 24 hours of advanced warning I binged on the two resources I brought with me and trusted the Lord for spontaneous remembrance for a seminar on Exilic and Intertestamental History. Then after, with little more than a few days of preparation for two day-long seminars on Western worldview, I picked up where Intertestamental History left off and carried the timeline all the way through to Postmodernism and the spiritual crisis of the current age that has effectively questioned everything—God, truth, ethics, morality, and even the questions themselves. [Gasp—even the memory of it is exhausting.] Those were long/short days in the classroom where all of our waiting provided little insulation to all of the hurrying that need demanded. And then as fast as greased lightning I went back to the long task of slow waiting.
“Rejoice in hope” (Romans 12:12a) — Please pray with us to fight for the power and the perspective to rejoice; not about the moment, per se, but in hope that overarches and invades the moment. There is much wrong in this world, but beauty and victory and glory exist—as the prophet declares in the present tense, “The whole earth is full of Your glory” (Isaiah 6:3). It will take diligence to fortify our hope-o-meters and to choose to see our present through the promises of God. Many times, as now, I am reminded of the ageless line in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, Aurora Leigh, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, / And every common bush afire with God: / But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, / The rest sit round it, and pluck blackberries, / And daub their natural faces unaware” (Book VII, lines 821-825).
“Be patient in tribulation” (Romans 12:12b) — Please pray with us for a supernatural capacity to be patient inside trial. Simultaneously please pray that we will not attempt to bypass the trial through our own cleverness or escapism. Patience, at its very root, is remaining under the pressure until God sees fit to remove the trial or to pull us through the trial, so this—like all things—pivots on the fulcrum of belief in Christ.
“Be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12c) — Please pray with us for constancy in prayer. We don’t know why prayer works or why God commands us to pray or why God meets us in prayer or why God seemingly waits to move until we pray; but we do know that Scripture is crystal clear on prayer—pray! Pray!! PRAY!!! It is an easily forgotten truth that here, and everywhere, we are in battle. To spiritualize a Tom Clancy line—“the radio is the greatest weapon man ever invented” (A Clear and Present Danger)—prayer is like a two-way radio. It would be consistent with any enemy’s strategy to disrupt all lines of communication. In that way, constancy in prayer (i.e. keeping the radio turned on and tuned in) is vitally important, and directly attacked, especially in light of an evangelistic outreach I am planning to join (August 17-24) in Yumba, Uganda, which borders both South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, is 99% M*slim, extremely poor, and somewhat militant. We go to help the one church in the entire region, do community service, and build relationships leading up to the showing of the Jesus Film at the end of the week.