My dear friend, Robert Brenner, recently conveyed a story from his 2018 visit to Rwanda about a woman named Grace. I cannot stop thinking about Grace, her story, and her remembering. You might recall the horrific events that rocked that small African country in 1994. In four short months, more than 800,000 people were murdered.

 After touring her small, home-based seamstress shop, Grace asked Robert if she could tell her story, sharing “It helps in my healing. It reminds me Jesus is enough, and that I must continue to forgive.” On the horrible night the genocide began, Hutu neighbors, that had formerly been good friends, invaded Grace’s home with knives and clubs filled with nails, killing every member of her family and throwing them into a ditch. Grace lay, alive, covered by the bodies of her kin. After three days, a man passing by noticed movement. This man pulled Grace out of her living grave, nursed her back to health, and became her husband. Three years later, even though the intensity of the genocide had ended, rebel bans of Hutus would come in the night and attack innocent Tutsis. In one of those attacks, the husband that had saved Graces’s life was killed.

This is Grace’s story. This is the story that sustains and promotes her healing, reminding her Jesus is enough and to forgive. Grace’s story is hard. Her story is the kind nightmares breed. Her story is filled with the sort of memories people long to wipe from their slates. And yet, the way Grace remembers is life-giving and healing. Through Grace, her story, and her remembering, I am realizing that

How we frame our remembering determines what our remembering births.

Do we frame our remembering in bitterness or in thanksgiving? The pain of the event or the provision of God in the midst of the pain? The lack encountered or the ever-present love of God sustaining? By what robbed us or by what God redeemed? In fury or in forgiveness? 

Grace chose to frame her story with the love God and the provision of God, and, in return, her story has birthed in her the power to forgive and heal and love and trust.

How do you frame your story? What does your remembering birth in you, empower you to do?




Fervent Prayers

First Week of Advent Wednesday—Luke 1:8-12; Psalm 31

No matter where you live, you probably move through life governed by seasons, whether those seasons be driven by nature, annual holidays, work or school schedules, etc. For first century Jews, the temple, with its daily offerings and feasts, created a rhythm for life. Also, if a person wanted to meet with God, he would go to the Temple. Therefore, it is fitting that the climatic rescue of the story the Bible tells begins with events that occur in the Jewish temple. Here, Luke introduces us to two more characters in the unfolding Christmas story: a Jewish multitude and an angel by the name of Gabriel. 

The incense offering symbolized and expressed the prayers of the Jews, which by this time would have undoubtedly included a petition for the Messiah. Twice-daily the incense offering ritual happened this way...when the priest entered the Holy Place with the incense, the people left the temple, waited outside, silently praying. After placing the incense on the fire, the priest bowed reverently toward the Holy of Holies, retreating slowly backwards. Upon emerging from the temple, the priest would stand before the people and offer a verbal blessing over them. 

Everyday…twice a day. Regardless of weather conditions. No matter who sat on Rome’s throne. Despite dismal circumstances. The multitudes (not just the appointed priests) gathered at the temple and prayed in hope, in waiting, with certain expectation that God would fulfill His promises. Our need is the same (the intervening rule of God). Our prayer is the same (PLEASE COME!). Yet, all too often, our perseverance is lacking. (Forgive us, Lord.)

Tomorrow’s devotion focuses on Gabriel’s message, but just one quick observation for now. Why do so many folks picture angels as ethereal, docile creatures when (nearly) every Biblical recording of an angelic encounter leaves the observer "gripped with fear," and/or falling "flat on the ground"? The Christmas story, when fully understood in its context, is not a tender tale but a covert, dangerous rescue mission. As such, the Lord of Hosts—one of the names for God which literally means Commander of the Heavenly Armies—sends one of His angelic commanders to deliver a message. 

 In your waiting, have your faithful prayers waned? If so, reignite your fervent petitions. Meditate on the power of God, and His armies, to intervene in your circumstances, remembering that His intervention can come at anytime, in any place, in any way, using any one.