I wake in the morning and hope it’s Wednesday or Sunday

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

I write this from the beautiful Normandy countryside. We are nearly at the end of our second Pursuit School trip to France, working alongside our friends Gerard and Chrissie and the ministry of Bless. We’re visiting with a new group of students who have just finished their Pursuit School year. Our days are filled with time in the Bethanie prayer room, working on Bethanie land, celebrating d’day on Pegasus Bridge and worshipping in a tiny chapel on the Compostela pilgrimage on the grounds of our friends’ campsite.

Our main focus has been the work of Bethanie and SOS Chai who have been working in the Presqu’ile in Caen for 2 years. Twice a week they serve hot meals and drinks, clothes and toiletries to a group of migrant boys while playing games and forming friendships – and we were able to join in! Many new boys have joined the Presqu’ile from Sudan, Senegal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia….We converse through our limited French, their limited English, but understand the universal language of smiles and soccer.

We heard these words yesterday,

‘I wake in the morning and hope it’s Wednesday or Sunday’

‘It’s good to serve people, and it’s even better to sit with people’

‘We are a family now.’

And as we enjoyed our family time, we watched this familiar story unfold.

The story of a menacing sky. Overshadowed by a rainbow. Laden with promise.

6AB5DAE1-39A6-4CB0-86FE-72AFB11C3298

Over the warehouses. Over the white vans, housing trafficked daughters – candles burning. Over purpose-filled lives created in the image of God. Our new brothers, with their wide smiles and long eyelashes. Their laughter. Their new love for spike ball.  The ones who have walked across the land, the desert and the Alps.

We are blessed.

SOS Chai needs our help to keep going – you can find more information here  

Thank you!

Love, Michelle xo

‘For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink…whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.’

 

I Choose to Forgive.

Day 11.

The concept of forgiveness can send shivers through the twisted backbone of who we are. The act of forgiveness can heal us to stand strong.

This weekend at church we continued on our #DiscoverJESUS series on the tough sayings of Jesus.

Bill Hogg spoke on ‘Love your enemies’…

corrietenboom2Corrie Ten Boom (cred. wiki)

We heard this story.

‘….It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”

His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.

Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.’ Powerful words from Corrie Ten Boom.

A more recent story from the Warren family whose son Matthew died this year:

The Warrens said they are grateful that California’s tough gun laws kept weapons out of Matthew’s hands for as long as they did. One of the hardest things they had to do was forgive the person who sold him the gun, Rick said, “because I didn’t want to forgive him.”

“He preyed on a desperate person,” Kay said of the online gun dealer.

Rick said he has to forgive the dealer, not for the dealer’s sake, but for his own.

“I forgive, first, because I’ve been forgiven by God. Second, unforgiveness makes me miserable. And third, I’m going to need more forgiveness in the future.”

“I don’t want to be tied emotionally to that person for the rest of my life,” Kay said.

My personal experience is acknowledging that the enemy is often my own heart, confronting my own gnarled thinking. Often blaming others yet failing to see it starts with me. Maybe we should start with another tough saying ‘Love yourself’.

IMG_3524icbymc

Does forgiveness mean we don’t care about justice? Does forgiveness mean there is no consequence for wrong? No. We leave justice and vengeance in God’s hands. Our job is to break cycles of hate, to be people of embrace, forgiving as God, In Christ, forgave us.

It starts with me.

You.

IMG_2994icbymc

Take a moment to read this poem by my friend Gerard Kelly from his book Spoken Worship.

I Choose to Forgive.

Though the cuffs of my jeans are muddied

from the dirt you have dragged me through,

I choose to forgive.

Though the nails of my fingers are bloodied

from the fighting you’ve forced me to do,

I choose to forgive.

Though no book or belief I have studied

can make sense of the path you pursue,

I choose to forgive.

Though the walls of heart are broken,

and the centre of my self is black-bruised,

by the lash of the lies that you’ve spoken,

and the wounds of the words that you’ve used,

though I huddle, a tear-trembling tragedy

stripped of the power to trust,

blocked off from all who might help me

by the guilt that came wrapped with your lust,

I choose to forgive.

And this act alone

breaks the cycle,

This act alone

rights the wrong,

This act alone

ends the evil,

This act alone

makes me strong,

Heals blind hatred with soft sight,

kicks the darkness into light.

I choose to forgive.

See you tomorrow,

Love, Michelle xo