At ten minutes to 8pm, I lay out a soft red and gold scarf and place three books in three different languages on top. As I fold the scarf gently around these three translations of the most widely-read, widely-translated book ever written, under the jitters of inadequacy in my stomach lies a deep sense of awe that He would choose me. Most of my life I’ve felt capable, prepared, in-control, and I like it that way. I like choosing activities and projects that I know will let me keep feeling that way. But this life I’m living here, now, is more by acquiescence than choosing-- a desire of my heart answered with a call, a personal invitation I accepted, rather than something I created for myself to do.
And now, on this night, I’m struggling to believe it’s me He’s chosen to carry these words down our street under a glittering star-encrusted sky, to the green gate and the waiting house with yellow light streaming kindly from the windows. Me, invited to bring His words, wrapped in red and gold, to open and delve into with another seeking heart.
I push open the green gate and walk around to the back door, and she ushers me into that kind light and lays a low table with a brand-new plastic tablecloth and silk-covered cushions. And we sit, this beautiful seeking heart and I, for two hours, thinking and talking about this great God and His Word. And under my stomach jitters, which are gradually turning into more serious cramps and bubbles, I continue to feel a deep, peaceful excitement. I am, after all, not the teacher. He is. And He is the best one there is. He wrote His own curriculum, after all, and it is perfect. Complete. Simple enough for a child to understand, rich enough to spend one’s whole life mining and never reach the end of all its treasures.
I strain to concentrate over the gurgling in my stomach. Finally at 10pm, in the midst of her showing me another precious little book of truth she was given years ago by someone else-- another step in her path to Him, reminding me the whole road doesn’t rest with me (thank God!), I am just His next sovereign piece-- finally, I have to ask to use their outhouse. I squat, shivering in the chilly air, her standing right outside, me shrinking from the noises I know will follow and the humiliation of being a private American… and she, my older sister, my true friend, is laughing at my apology-- “Better out that in!” she chuckles, and we are easy together and as I squat in the shack she continues gazing at the incredible stars.
The theme of our evening.
She’s told me about rising at 5am to pray, about going outside in the tangible peace of the early morning, alone with God and the birds, and the way her soul feels lifted and fed. And we’ve read Psalm 19 together in three languages to find the word “glory”, and how the heavens declare it, day after day. And I’ve told how William has recently exclaimed over the stars, since we’re not often out at night, and I’ve talked with him about what a great God we must have Who could create such beauty.
And I think, as I squat in increasing misery, how symbolic this is: my utter inadequacy, in the most humble of positions, in a rickety wooden shack under a glorious star-studded sky. His glory covers all my humbleness, my humanness, my not knowing the answers, the language barriers (which surprisingly were hardly apparent tonight, to my relief)… His heavens themselves are enough to speak of His glory, without me. I get to be the vessel through which His heart and love and words can be spoken, and the pleasure of that sensation is His gift to me. But He is already pursuing His own, and I am just along for the ride.
I excuse myself sorrowfully, my stomach clutched in the beast’s awful claws, and stagger home to writhe in bed and make multiple trips to the bathroom with a bucket under my mouth, thinking all the while that if this is the best our enemy can do, if he thinks this will keep me away, he’s a bigger fool than I thought. Nothing could keep me from this. Wild horses. Avalanches.
When sleep finally does come, I drift off knowing I am cradled in the same Hands that flung each of those glorious stars, that knit my body and heart together, knit her too on the other side of the world, and gently led me to her street, her gate, her heart. And I sleep, in peace.
This. This is why I am here.