Monday, April 9, 2012

The Food Chain

Brandy and her "pretty bird" yes, cat eats bird

"Heh, heh, heh, it won't be pretty for long!!!"

"The snout"--known for snatching prey from the cats
 I was sitting out on the veranda this morning, watching the termites, birds, cats & dogs and listening to the sounds of the surrounding morning activities while drinking my COFFEE, all while thinking about the food chain. (EVERY food chain should include coffee, by the way).  Actually, I’ve been pondering the food chain for days now, intending to share some thoughts in this blog space, but so far TIME has eaten me. Today is Easter Monday and things move a bit slower here on such holidays, so today I will become the top consumer and devour all the distractions that so far have kept me from writing. 
In reality the actual food chain of the ecosystem I live in disturbs me. The reason I was even thinking about this at all these past two weeks is because of all the geckos, lizards, birds and rats that my two cats have been daily dragging into the house half dead. Our cats are ruthless, skilled hunters. Ruthless because they combine their sport with their appetite and never consume anything quickly--choosing instead to shamelessly toy with their victim long before any heads actually get bit off---just awful to witness! Thankfully, however, they eventually fully consume their catch leaving nothing for me to clean up---except for a certain type of lizard that must taste awful because they never eat that one and always leave it around somewhere either sans tail or decapitated when the fun is done--YUCK! If they toy with things too long, however, they completely lose their catch to the big black dog that shares their habitat--GO BUBBLY!!
I myself have been toying with thoughts of the food chain--what are the parallels between the food chain I witness everyday and the spiritual food chain of which I engage in on a daily basis? We have recently lost one of our older boys to the seductive and destructive appetite of “what’s OUT THERE?” He left us about a month ago and Geoff and Uncle Mulu have spent many hours talking, praying and working with him as he would avail himself for such interactions, but in the end, he chose to go this past week saying, “I’m 18 and I know what is best for me. For me, I am going!” It began with a serving of the sin of stealing, then was heaped upon with the sin of lying about having stolen, added to by more stealing and topped off with further deceit in an effort to cover up all that had been going on. It is not an isolated case, but one we’ve witnessed before--details and sin choices being the variables, while a heart hardened against the love offered being the constant.
I’ve written about this many times, but is warrants repeating, the orphan heart is marred by rejection, confusion, mistrust and unhealthy independence (“I CAN DO IT MYSELF--I DON’T NEED ANY OF YOU TO TELL ME ANYTHING!!!”) Ultimately, we cannot force-feed anyone to eat from the table of God’s love, compassion, mercy, grace and devotion. And therein lies both the heartbreaking reality and complete joy of being a part of the spiritual food chain here at New Hope. We present the fare, the TRUTH of God’s love and we must leave it at that.  It is up to them to reach out and take the truth offered.  Some choose to feast on God’s love and others choose to starve. We can wear ourselves thin by the delusion that we are in control of how the message is received, if received at all. It is only by God’s spirit that these kids can receive the truth, take it, chew on it and digest it. We simply sow the seeds--a sort of planting of the flora at the very basic level of our spiritual ecosystem. As God’s word states, “So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.” I Corinthians 3:7
And sowing the seeds truly is not the only task in which we are involved--some of the time we have the privilege of watering the seeds sown. It is the daily interaction with those who have chosen to eat from God’s truth and with those who have not yet chosen. Teaching the kids how to function in their new diet of God’s word--how to make decisions, how to pray, how to depend on and trust Him for their future. 
Any of us can attest to the fact that a diet change is not easy. Many of our missionaries on staff here have recently had to adjust their diets due to allergies.  Learning to adjust to a new diet requires extensive changes in life habits!!! All the defaults don’t work anymore including what to shop for, how to cook it once home and remembering to ask “what’s in this?” when away from home. Likewise, spiritual diet changes also require extensive adjustment. Fortunately, God promises never to leave us, never to turn His back on us (Hebrews 13:5).  He helps us as we come to understand more and more of His truth and how we can go beyond just incorporating it into our lives, but further allowing it to fully take over our lives! 
I ask you to pray for the kids here that have chosen to eat from God’s fare--pray they would not give up when the changes require tough choices. And pray for them as others are scrutinizing their behavior to see how long their choice for God will last.  The pressure can be intense. And pray for us to have wisdom in mentoring those who are looking to God for their spiritual nutrition, and as we long for others to make the step to trust Him.
I have been mentoring a few girls one on one for five years now. I met again with one of them yesterday. Our times together happen about three times a month and consist of Bible study and general sharing on challenges.  Often this particular girl doesn’t talk much at all. But, as I look back on the past few years, there is usually a time every few months in which it seems she wants to talk about many things and yesterday was one of those times.  We talked about disturbing reoccurring nightmares--the content and how to pray. Then, we visited her desires for her future studies--should they be in science, a subject she loves, but finds difficult at times? Next, she wondered about what to say to a non-Christian friend who is unwisely pursuing a romantic relationship, and just when I thought she had talked all she wanted to talk she said, “Auntie Mary, can I ask you another question?” “Sure.” “What do you know about the food chain?” I about fell over! Not that a question about the food chain is earth shattering, but the fact that I’ve been pondering the food chain for a couple of weeks--which she didn’t know--AND of all the deep things we’d been discussing, something like the food chain was not even remotely what I was expecting her to say!!! She wanted to know about the literal food chain, so we got on the computer and looked it up.  Doing that for her definitely helped me get the juices flowing for this blog!!! We are all interconnected in this spiritual food chain in life!!  Where are you? Being eaten alive or being filled in order to feed others?
As those who have seen the ultimate value in God’s love for us, we long for others to experience His life, compassion, forgiveness and joy.  We long for them to stop eating of their own power and yield to His strength. Thank you for praying with us as we truly desire that none of them would be devoured by the lies of the enemy--the evil top consumer of this world. May God’s (the ultimate provider) truth reign and consume us all as we are passionate to give of ourselves in bringing His truth to others. “For truly, unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it can produce much fruit.”

Another quick note on the "food chain" here . . . with all our activity here we employ four people to help us with the many daily tasks around our house. We recently honored Medie, our wonderful compound worker, for 15 years of service at New Hope Uganda. It occurred to me that though we employ them and therefore help them to eat and feed their families by the salaries we pay, they also help us to be free to minister to (spiritually and emotionally feed) the children here.This is a picture of those who attended the party we had for Medie two weeks ago.

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