Saturday, August 9, 2008

Shabbat Letter- Tisha B' Av

Dear Family,

Another week in the Israeli army has brought another week of change. I left the base that was next to Gaza and I traveled to a base next to Tel Aviv. This base is so big that it has it's own bus line running from one side to the other. The base, called Tzrifin, contains about twenty smaller bases all doing their own thing. When I am on this base, it seems like I am completely separated from what is going on outside. When I was near Gaza, I felt I was right next to where it was all happening, so the change to this base was a dramatic one. We spent our days this past week in the classroom. We have been learning all about chemical warfare and the things we need to know to do our job well. I only have one more week at this base, and then I will be sent off to a base near Eilat for the rest of my military service. Please pray that the Lord would give me the grace to deal with all of these changes and the challenges that come with them.

Going to this base, and listening to these lessons has really reminded me of the book of Ecclesiastes. It is vanity to think that we will be able to stop these kinds of weapons if our enemies choose to use them. This is not to say what I am doing is futile, but it is vanity to think that we could stop these things from happening. The ONLY thing that will prevent this from happening is the Lord's intervention. The world could have been destroyed many times over, and the only reason it hasn't is because of His great mercy. It has also given me an interesting perspective on the walk we are on before the Lord. There is a fatalistic tendency within the Body that leans towards the futile. If things really are that bad, why would we try to pray? Why would we continue to work? Why would we continue to try to make a difference? We could just live a "good" believing life in our communities and let what ever happen, happen. How selfish we are sometimes! We live in light and that is why we see the darkness. We recognize it for what it is because we have the Light of Yeshua in our lives. Those who live in the darkness have no idea what encompasses them right now. How can they know if no one tells them?

How many of us are in the kingdom right now because someone prayed us in and then someone was obedient to share. It is our task to push against the darkness through our persistent prayer and to shine our light in the darkness by sharing Yeshua. We should not think that our prayers or work is useless because we cannot stop the way the world is going. The Word says it will get worse, but our job doesn't depend on the state of the world. Our lives are lived before the Lord for the sake of His kingdom and for the sake of the lost. That is our focus and we should never forget it. If we are staying in our comfortable communities and praying only what it is comfortable, we are acting like the man who hid his 1 talent in the ground. We all know what happened to him. We have been given something life changing and if we have lost the plot if we are waiting for conditions in the world to be good to act. Sow now......so that the harvest in the future may be plentiful.

******

Through out various interactions with other believers in the Land, I've heard it said on many occasions that coming into the Land is not easy. Recently, the government decided to begin enforcing its tourist and volunteer visa laws more strictly. I've seen the struggle of those around me to make sure they are secure here, and I've seen some given only a weeks notice to leave. Its been a very difficult few months for many volunteers who have no idea if they will be allowed to stay, or if they will have to go. As I've been watching this take place, my heart has become increasing thankful for the physical security the Lord is building through my marriage, for me to be able to live in the land. It brings my heart to a more focused and serious place in how I understand my calling to marry Devin and live with him here in Israel. This isn't to say that I haven't had my own hardships, though.

Last week, a close friend shared that the Lord had given her a prophetic vision of me standing face first into a giant windstorm. I couldn't have summed up the last year of my life better if I had tried. I have dealt with the strangest scenarios since about a year ago this past April, and they only increased after Devin and I became engaged. Devin has told me that the spiritual pressure I've been under is very much related to having joined myself to him in engagement. By doing so, I've made a commitment to this land and these people, and the trials I've faced are part of the cost of coming into this covenant. It has been exhausting at times, but the Lord has been so good to encourage me as I need it. This week it came through the book of Job. I'm so thankful that He put this book in the bible for us. Its a great reminder that some hardships come simply because we are righteous people. While these matters can cause trials, there's no mention in Job that his hardships are the negative consequences of his sinful actions, because of an open door or generational curse. The Lord literally said to the enemy, " Have you considered my servant Job?" Now why would He suggest Job? "He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) "And He still maintains his integrity though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason." (2:3) Doesn't that provide an enormous relief from self-comdenation?

I don't know that my integrity has always been that of Job's, but I do know that I can rest assured that this season is of God's sovereign plan to refine me, replace my dreams with His, and to bring important relationships into His proper order. There is purpose in every moment of hurt and disappointment I've faced since last April. In honor of Tisha B'av, Devin and I went to the Wall to pray. I really gave it to the Lord and instead of asking him to remove the pressure, my prayer was "Give me the strength to endure it." The Lord gave me a picture of the wind storm, with my hair blowing all around, face stinging with pain.... Then, you know what happened? Just as I thought I was going to collapse, Yeshua walked up and stood in front of me. He took the storm so I wouldn't have to anymore. I just stood behind Him and found rest. He'll do the same for you too. Shabbat Shalom.

Love,

Devin and Callie