Arguing About Water

Last summer I had a chance to serve with a mission team on a trip to Guatemala. Having never been out of the country for anything other than personal vacations, it was a learning experience to stay the least. One of the greatest opportunities that I had was to help bring water filters to people that had no real access to clean water. The lack of clean water creates a health crisis and without clean water it’s hard to focus on doing other things well.

Having received a brief training on how to install the water filters I had the opportunity to help place new water filters in the homes of a few people. With the help of an interpreter my group and I explained how to use the filter. It was great because we knew that we were giving them a chance to have clean water.guatemalawater

For almost my entire life, I have never had to be in a situation where I had to think about the cleanliness of the water I was drinking. Being in the high altitude of the mountains and working throughout the day, we had to constantly remind each other to make sure that we were staying hydrated and only drinking from clean sources. It broke my heart to think that those that we were serving had to depend on these water sources every single day when it was tiresome for me to only do it for a week.

I then began to think of an encounter at the airport prior to leaving the USA to head to Guatemala. I went to buy a drink and noticed water in some crazy kind of container. Not sure what it was exactly, but I do know that the marketing was convincing enough that I for a moment thought about how maybe I should spend a little more for that water that must have been the purest water ever sourced. The cheaper bottle of Aquafina was surely going to kill me.

Sitting in Guatemala one night, I thought about that water and I thought about the families that we served. In addition to water filters, we had the opportunity to talk about the Gospel with them, offer prayer requests, and always pray before leaving. Because of the great ministry we served with, most had already heard the Gospel, so we were simply continuing the relationships that they had formed. They did not have a million churches to choose from just as they did not have a million water sources to choose from.

I started thinking about how silly it must seem for those without clean water to then go into a place like an American store and see 25 different overpriced options and find out that some people are fiercely loyal to a particular brand and scoff at others (I’m Team Dasani over Team Aquafina by the way). We argue over the little differences instead of being thankful that we have what so many don’t…clean water.

I then started thinking about churches and the desire that so many have to start arguing with each other instead of focusing on what really matters. I am admittedly not always concerned with exploring great theological intricacies in my spare time. I think beliefs are important. I believe we have a responsibility to study more and ask better questions. There are some issues that I feel strongly about and I understand that I have my own theological tendencies and preferences.

guatemala

But honestly, I think the church has started to argue more about their favorite water instead of rejoicing in the fact that they have water at all.

I am not telling you which side is right. There are so many church battles out there that you don’t need me to list them all. What I am trying to say is that perhaps we should stop looking at where we disagree, what really are the little things, and begin to see the core of where we do agree.

Churches need to stop arguing out there about the details of God and realize that there are so many out there that would be grateful to even hear the name of Jesus for the first time. Theology does matter. Studying does matter. Asking questions does matter. But more importantly, we need to remember that the way that we do so matters as well.

Loving doesn’t require agreeing with someone. Serving doesn’t require agreeing with someone.

We can talk about our favorites and I think those discussions can be healthy. But, let’s not forget we have more important things to do and until we master those, we’re just arguing about water and not helping those that are without.

Why I Hate IKEA But It Taught Me About Faith…

There were many things I expected about marriage and parenthood. I was not prepared for the amount of time I would spend assembling pieces of furniture from IKEA using a little Allen wrench and every last bit of my patience (which my wife would say isn’t all that much to begin with). I feel like the Lord has blessed me with some skill sets, but this type of work usually takes me a lot longer than it should.

As part of the move and getting things ready for the arrival of twins, we decided that it was time for Crosley to transition from crib to a big girl bed. For over a year my wife had already picked out the bed that she wanted and of course it came from IKEA. My in-laws were kind enough to purchase it for us and all that was left was the assembly. And so it begins.
Cardboard IKEA
The first lie I told myself is that it wouldn’t take very long and so I started the project later at night than I should have. How long could it take? I stared at the task at hand and saw somewhere between 4 and 400 boxes, each numbered, but with no indication of where to start. I chose Box A…no instructions. Box B…no instructions. Whether it was Box K or Box Z I can’t remember, but I found the instructions. Lie number two was that from here it was smooth sailing.

If you are familiar with IKEA instructions, it is similar to a form of hieroglyphics. No words, just a bunch of pictures. I found the bag of 1,000 assorted screws, nuts, and bolts and looked for the white flag in one of the boxes. Perhaps it was time to surrender.

No white flag to be found, I began to work. “How infuriating are the folks that wrote these instructions?” “Why couldn’t they write out instructions?” How do I know that I won’t get ten steps down the road only to realize I had messed up and have to start back over?

But I worked. I watched. I noticed. Step one: complete. Step two: complete…..”Okay…I see what they did here.” “This makes some sense.” “Maybe they do know what they are doing.”

I won’t lie and say that it was my favorite experience ever. There were times when it didn’t make sense. I lost at least an hour having to go back and repeat one step or another.¬† Slowly but surely though, there was now a bed in the room!
crosleybed
I learned that night that God can speak through anything…even IKEA. Faith is hard because the instructions aren’t always laid out the way that I expect. There are times when I think I have finally figured it out only to realize I missed a major step and I have to go back and start over. There are times where I question God and wonder why he chose to do things a certain way.

But, the more that I push through, the more that I follow the instructions the best that I can, and the more that I witness when things do fall into a plan decided with a purpose in mind…the more I remind myself of who is in control.

If you are struggling to believe, I don’t expect to be able to help you understand from the beginning. Faith is a process. I’m learning that I need to take my time, follow the steps in order in the ways that can best…and look to see what God will do through it all!

I still don’t love IKEA. I don’t look forward to the next assembly project. But I think I am better prepared because I’ve done it before. On most days, that explains my next leap of faith.

Who’s In Control?

PlaygroundLesson2

This afternoon the snow had melted and the sun had come out just enough that it just felt like the perfect time to take my little girl to the park. Her increased mobility over the last year has undoubtedly brought lots of challenges, but sometimes it also means we have more fun. The park is a great example.

Today I noticed her doing things that perhaps I couldn’t believe that she was quite ready to do. She climbed to levels that surely were too advanced for what my eyes saw as a little girl. She went down the “big kids” slide with no problems at all. I winced as I saw the really big kids run by and I was certain she was about to get hurt. She never did.

Perhaps my favorite moment was at a place that usually goes unnoticed. After going up a few steps and before the big swinging bridge, there is a wheel filled with marbles that makes a sound like rain when turned. She tried, but didn’t quite have the strength to turn it herself…and I had an idea.

Standing on the other side, I encouraged her to try again. This time, unbeknownst to her, I pushed the wheel at the exact moment she did and the clanking of the marbles sounded like a Jim Cantore-worthy downpour. I looked over and she squealed and left her mouth agape with her big brown eyes making a face that I wish I could have captured on camera to treasure forever. She had finally done it and she was so proud.

During this season of life I know there are many things that I wish I could do. I preach about faith, but day to day I feel like there are so many challenges that I feel ill equipped to do. I’ve tried and yet feel like the task is too daunting. Ways the church can do better. Ways that I can to better. Missteps along the way. That’s when the doubt creeps in. I can’t do this.

PlaygroundLesson3Today, as I helped my little girl, I started thinking about that faith and I heard the Spirit speaking to me. None of the things I am called to do are ultimately about my strengths, abilities, or anything else I want to give myself credit for doing. The only thing that I can control is putting my hands to the wheel and do everything I can when my Father calls me to do it.

The cool thing about that is that when and if I do, I know that he is on the other side, using his strength to make it happen. I have to remind myself regularly that the results aren’t up to me. I just have to be willing to try. God will handle the results and when he does, I hope that it is so great that I have that same mouth agape, bright-eyed feeling about how cool it was that it happened and I got to help.

 

 

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