The picture you see here is what is hidden under, and what holds up, the pointed, slate roof of one of the towers at Brézé Castle. What looks like a simple conical profile, from the outside, is no fewer than 56 wooden beams that come out from a central wooden key and which form the structure… the skeleton on which the slate roof rests. The slate stone ‘shingles’ can only serve their purpose effectively if the frame beneath them is solid.
So it is with missions and missionaries.
Missionaries can look like a single, self-contained unit from the outside… doing their thing for God in a foreign country. But if you stripped away that which is visible on the outside, you would see what provides structure and therefore strength to them. Besides the Lord, of course, it is people like YOU who provide the financial and prayer support that allow us to fulfill our purpose in the Kingdom of God. When that structure falters, in any way, or is unstable, it limits our ability to serve our purpose or be effective.
So in this week when many of you south of the 49th parallel have celebrated Thanksgiving and have “shopped-til-you-dropped” we say Thank you! Thank you for your interconnectedness with us.
Together we are stronger!
Castles & Vineyards
The amazing thing about this part of France is that you don’t even have to try to see castles or vineyards. Both of which abound… I pass them frequently on my way to and from teaching.
Here you see the ruins of a 12th century dungeon surrounded by vineyards. Think about that for a moment… 12th century! This particular day the late afternoon sun was illuminating the yellow leaves of the grapevines against dark, ominous clouds off to the north (which burst by the time I got home 15mins later). Two days later when I drove by again… no a single leaf remained. Whether it was the heavy frost, the rain, a bit of wind or a combination of the three… the grapevines are now bare and the fleeting beauty you see above has disappeared for another year.
If you’ve seen any news out of France over the past week, it’s likely had to do with (yet more) protest movements… this one entitled “les gilets jaunes” or “yellow vests”.
On one hand they could almost be called “yellow jackets” because they kind of “sting” a bit. This week, in a single day, I came across four protests. In a nutshell, they’re protesting high gas prices and their goal is to disrupt daily life in an effort to get the government to reduce gas taxes.
They accomplish this by setting up roadblocks, slowing traffic and blocking gas stations & refineries. In addition to the hollering & bullhorns, there are also often either burning tires or wood-fires making smell and smoke!
It’s affecting everything from car plant closures (because they can’t move parts stock) to grocery shortages (again… delivery trucks are moving less).
Here’s what they taught me:
Let me set it up: I had a 45min drive to give a test in Poitiers at 10am and ran into roadblock #1 just 10min into my drive. Knowing that it’d make me late for class, I backtracked and spent the rest of the drive wondering if I’d run into any more roadblocks… it’s a stressful way to proceed. I didn’t come across any more until after class, when I had more time on my hands, so I was less worried.
My driving time was a bit like our daily life.
We can be perpetually tense, never knowing when the next “obstacle” will hit or the next problem arise, threatening to throw our day / life into chaos. Each time we approach an intersection, we wonder if we’ll be kept from moving forward.
We’re on edge and each time we come to an “intersection” where there are no “obstacles”, we are thankful and breathe a sigh of relief.
Doing this in the spiritual realm, and doing it repeatedly, helps us build a foundation of trust with which we can face each new day with hope and confidence (as opposed to fear and anxiety). Whether or not we face obstacles… he is with us to give us peace and strength… in spite of obstacles (real or perceived).
The Lord has been teaching us that in this season of life & ministry and for this… we are thankful!
Thank you for spending time with me today.
Enjoy your post-Thanksgiving rest and may the spirit of that day not fade with the last of the leftovers.