Padre to Chad: Journal Two

God, I think about the way my hands fumble to sew words together. I think about the way I find myself praying poetry and yet, when I try to write anything permanent, it doesn’t take root- it doesn’t seem to stick and sculpt like Your words do. It leaves me with a furrowed brow and a soft smile on my face in the best way because I know it’s simply because You are holy.

My words dance, but only because You hold them by string. Because that’s all they are- words. An ensemble of eloquence, assembled together rhythmically. But Your Word? God, Your Word has a heart-beat– Your Word breathes. It was there in the beginning and it ages with grace, unchanged. Your Word marries flesh and tendons to bones, forming nothing into known. And I hold it.

But I confess that often times I see it less than what my poetry is because I don’t see the beauty of Your breath dancing in it. But God, while my words are being held by Your strings, Your Word stands on its own.

And I want to stand and dance with it.

***

Throughout spring break, while serving other university students in South Padre, I was trying to write a poem for my church’s Easter service in my free time. I kept finding myself frustrated at the fact that my poetry will never compare to David’s psalms or the imagery found in Hosea. It sounds blasphemous, but it’s honest.

My love of the Word of God has grown exponentially within the past year, and I can’t even begin to place what started it. But then again, have you read it? It’s rich.  You don’t need inspiration to read it because it is already inspired. I don’t write that statement looking down at you with a pointed finger. I write it to myself, hoping that I will believe it and that my belief will beget dependence. This is just a degree of glory I have transformed into, and I pray it takes root (2Corin 3:18). I’ve never read the whole bible, but lately the sun finds me sitting before my bible on the floor soaking everything in when it wakes up. The Bible reveals to me who God is and it reveals to me who I am in Him.

I was sobered last week at seeing the power of the Word of God. It’s living and active and it is truly water to those who are thirsty, it’s food for those who have no money, it is life for those who have nothing to offer. I was presented the opportunity to share one of my favorite stories from the Bible this week (thanks to my friend Hailey’s beautiful henna!) about a woman in the book of Luke (8:40-48). After bleeding for twelve years, at the touch of Jesus’ robe, her faith makes her well and gives her the name Daughter. I shared the story with a junior named Michael, visiting Padre for spring break. It was his first time to hear the story, and he agreed with me that it was one of the most beautiful stories he had ever heard. He proceeded to open up and relate with me on levels of depression and hardship, just as I relate to the woman in the story. I shared that after searching for years, like the woman, I found Jesus to be the only one who could heal me of my sadness and hopelessness. He shared that his has been the community he has found within his fraternity. We discussed healthy community and how that relates to what Jesus wants for us until we dropped him and his buddies off. Before Michael went, I had the opportunity to pray over him, and after we said amen, he looks up and says, “thank you.” With tears in his eyes, and pointing at my arm, he choked, “I never want to forget that story.”

Isaiah 55 says that the Word of God does not return void. All we have to do is put it forth in faith, and it will move mountains.

***

One week after getting approved for Chad, I found myself standing on a beach looking out at the one earthly thing that gives us a glimpse of eternity. I was lost in a crowd of eight-hundred university students singing in between waves of sea-salt wind, “you call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail, and there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep, my faith will stand.” I felt the Spirit of God inhabiting the space next to me, and he took my hand, squeezing it. “And I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves when oceans rise.” The ubiquitous depth of the ocean began to sober me up as I became acutely aware of how little control I have over my life. Until this moment, I think I had unconsciously looked at the opportunity to go to Chad as something I could do for God. The opportunity was about fulfilling my dreams and ensuring that my desire to be of some seemingly significant piece in the Kingdom of Heaven came to fruition. And standing there, looking out into the watery abyss, I saw the promise of God.

I was reminded of Abraham and Sarah, depraved of the ability to bring God’s promise to life by their human capacity. Sarah was barren without child, and Abraham was old in his age. Together they appeared unfit and unqualified to bring forth many nations. But God promised. And the promise came after the knowledge that Sarah was barren.

God knew that I was working in my own human ingenuity, trying to impress him with my weak abilities to plan, organize, and fundraise. He knew this, and still he promised. However, he is keeping me humbled on bruised knees in prayer because there is so much about Chad I still don’t know. But what a beautiful place to be. He is making me so utterly dependent on him that I can’t afford to place my focus anywhere else because if I do, I’ll sink.

The presence of the Spirit of the Living God inhabited that island for me that week in a completely different way than it has in the past four years. The ocean called to me as eternity calls to all of us in the deepest parts of ourselves. At night, I couldn’t help but see the Spirit brooding like a bird above the watery abyss. A hum of hallelujah followed me around like a sweet fragrance. His presence is a reminder that he brings things into existence that do not exist, just as it was for the earth & just as it is for me.

Ma salaamah,

Kati Rae

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