Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't Turn Back

"... forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead," -- Phillipians 3:13

"No, no no!" The new orphanage caregiver shouted. "No strangers allowed in the house!"

My nine year old daughter froze in uncharacteristic stone-cold silence. For two years of her life she had lived within these walls. She had called it home and the 12 year old autistic girl, Angela, who stood beside her, had been her roommate.

"Angela," the caregiver scolded, doubtlessly with the best of intentions, "You know you can't bring strangers in here!"

Strangers? Niki's brow furrowed. How could she be a stranger here at the orphanage, her orphanage?

The two girls edged their way back outside and rejoined the games of the Easter program, but for the rest of day Niki wallowed in a funk. It was incomprehensible that her old life had forgotten her, but the experience declared all too eloquently that she no longer belonged there.

Perhaps we all can relate to Niki's experience last weekend. A certain amount of our identity is wrapped up in our old life. And we want to hold onto it. But God has called us to a new life, a better life, a place where He can meet our deepest needs. He has called us to push forward in it, still we tend to turn back and perhaps even long for things that are not in our best interest. Sometimes He has to bring us to that painful place where we realize we no longer belong there. It is a paring away of ourselves in order to help us embrace the better place he has for us.

So let's stop looking back. Stop living in what would have, could have or even should have been. Let's let go of the old life and embrace the life Christ has brought us into, for hard as this life might be at times, God has designed it to ultimately be good in His great plan.

At times when Niki must face punishment for disobedience or even when she simply longs for her biological or foster mother, her life with us does not feel so good from her perspective. But in the grand scheme of things, having witnessed how she has blossomed over the past 3 and half years with us, there's no doubt, God is working His good in her.

So we can be assured in our own adoption in God's family, that He is working His good in us, even in the painful places as we let go of all that's behind.

Angela and Niki

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ode to a Dog Named Pig

He was a little dog, insignificant as an animal can be. His tail spewed from his back end, a blond tuft of fur puffing out as demonstratively as his nose pushed inward. A pekingese wannabe of mutt stock, he patroled the areas around his home in much the same way his mistress, a Roma (gypsy) woman, struts the streets of the Hungarian village in which we live.

They called him "Malac," Hungarian for "pig," or more literally, "piglet," as his tiny stature would dictate. An annoying canine of note, Malac tormented the neighborhood with his screechy, high pitched yipes in the wee hours of the morning.

No, there was really nothing redeemable about Malac. Given the opportunity, the long-haired mongrel would creep into our fenced yard and "pig out" on our dogs' victuals. All the meanwhile, he turned up his concave nose at the dog food his own master/mistress dispensed.

Malac was a menace, driven wild by our schnauzer-setter's wiles. Granted, the tiny Romeo could hardly expect to accomplish much despite his aggressive attempts to court her. After all, at full height, he reached barely past her ankles.

Still Malac fancied himself quite the ladies man around the village, it would seem. From one end of Mikepercs to the other, the village remains speckled with the a curious presence of pekingese-variation mutts. I guess Malac lived up to his name on many levels, huh?

A couple weeks ago, a new notable peace seemed to descend over the neighborhood. Truth be told I hardly noticed it at first. Then I learned from the boy next door that Malac, the dog named pig, had perished after trying to take on a moving vehicle. Needless to say, he lost the altercation.

Hence, I deemed it fitting to write a tribute to the bothersome dog who, in my humble opinion, was scarcely dog enough to be called a dog. Perhaps that's why they called him, "pig."

Very often as I blog, I seek some sort of spiritual revelations in the ordinary events of life. With Malac, I am hard pressed to find practical application.

Except that, maybe on some level, Malac represents what John Donne wrote about when penned the phrase, "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main..."

Insignificant as the little dog was, he still somehow impacted and still effects the lives of many in a little Hungarian village called Mikepercs. For some it is a legacy of troublesome strays with pushed in noses meandering about the streets. For others it is a fluffy haired, pig nosed bundle of fun and faithfulness who will follow some child through all his joys and sorrows of growing up.

And if God, in His infinite wisdom, could see fit to craft the workings of this world in a way that allows something as insignificant as a dog named pig to leave a legacy, just imagine all the potential for legacy he must have bound up in you and me.

Let's not leave legacy bound up as mere potential. Let's conciously seek the kind of legacy we wish to leave behind, the legacy we've been called to leave behind.

For "no man is an island" -- not even a scruffly little dog named pig.