I was sitting in our community home church last Thursday evening, watching a group of twenty or so children on one side and ten adults on the other; we were listening to Stephen share the story of Noah.
Like everything else we do and encounter here, it’s a different experience. He is telling the story of Noah as if they’ve never heard it before, because most haven’t. So we discuss the details: how many people went into the boat? How many days did it rain? Did you know it hadn’t rained before this? We remembered the flooding in our neighborhood and what that might have been like if it had lasted 150 days instead of two. Or we imagined water rising up over the mountains in Burma just beyond our backyard.
In that sense, it is childlike, as we share a Bible story in all its detail.
But then Stephen talks about what we learn from Noah: we see God’s justice in a world that isn’t just. We talked about the injustice we see around us every day, as we are all treated differently because of our skin color, our ethnicity, or our economic status. We talked about how real these injustices are, and when God flooded the earth, he showed us that he is a God of justice.
But also, he is a God of mercy & forgiveness. Stephen talked about how Noah was a friend of God, and that is why God saved his family. That is how Noah heard God’s instructions for building a boat that seemed crazy to everyone else. But he was God’s friend and God saved him; and we want to know God and be his friend, so that he will save us.
Suddenly, it isn’t a children’s story and it doesn’t feel childlike; it feels shockingly paralleled to the story of the cross and the story of the coming Kingdom.
In the middle of these stories each week I see the stories I have grown up listening to, reading, and believing from a new perspective. They feel a little absurd. They feel far-fetched.
They feel miraculous. Miraculous that this is the God we serve and have given our lives for. This is the story that has sent me around the world. This is the story of the grace that changes us every day.
And while I see the miracle of the story, I am praying for a miracle in the story. As I look at the adults, raised in a different cultural religion, living in poverty, growing up in suffering: I am praying for them to see the miracle of these stories. The miracle of our God. I am praying that God will show himself.
Each week they ask us to pray for health & money. And, oh, are we praying. We are praying for God to answer; for God to show himself in little prayers and little blessings and little tastes of his miracles.
And while I pray for miracles, I see the miracles. Our lives here are a miracle, and nothing less. I don’t know how we got here. I don’t know how we came to love these families in this way. I don’t know why it’s these families and this neighborhood.
I do know that we are always praying for miracles: in communication, in friendships, over meals, in hospital visits, in sitting on someone’s floor, over a puzzle, and in the middle of a Bingo game. We are praying that they know the love of Christ in a miraculous way. We are praying that we know what to do in a miraculous way. We are praying that God creates opportunities in a miraculous way.
He is and He does.
So while we sit among miracles, we pray for more, and we trust that we will experience more, I’m never sure how to share them all. I wish I could. I wish I could capture how encouraging our tea shop visit was yesterday. I wish I could tell you how connected we felt with the people with us.
I wish I could tell you how sweet it was to run into the elderly couple in our community at the market; the leaders, if you will. They invited us to have mohingya (a fish & noodle soup) at a little stall and bought our dinner.
I wish I could capture what it meant to pick up a little family of four at the clinic today after a five-day stay with dengue fever. One of the little girls has a difficult story, and she’s often mistreated and made fun of; she climbed into the backseat with me and cuddled up next to me for the ride home. To hold her, to love her, to stroke her hand and pray for her: this is a miracle. This is an answered prayer, on an average Monday morning.
Our lives are full of prayer after prayer, answered prayer after answered prayer, and miracle after miracle. Sometimes it feels like we are walking through the Gospels day after day, just watching the stories of Jesus unfold right in front of us.
Sometimes it also feels like we are walking through hell, too. Sometimes the tangibility of evil is terrifyingly present. But my hope is that we don’t forget the goodness, the beauty, and the miracles.
A few weeks ago we spent a couple weeks in a nearby village for a training. Before each meal, the staff & students would sing this prayer–
Oh, the Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun & the rain & the mango seed
The Lord is good to me
Stephen & I have been humming it on the motorbike ever since. The Lord is good to us!