Posts Tagged ‘faith’

9
Jun

My Grammie and the Waltons

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

 

    

My maternal Grandmother, Charlotte, whom we called Grammie. This was taken of her in 1990.

 

 This is my Grammie.  It has taken me almost 6 months to write about this because God has had me on a  journey with it.  I have not grieved so hard since I lost my son 21 years ago.  She died the day after her birthday in January.  I was there with the family as she took her last breath.  I have been living ever since praying for God to remove that vision.  It was not what I would have wanted or would ever have pictured.  I have seen people die before.  But it was different to have someone who so deeply touched my life.  I often said I wanted to grow up and be a Grammie.  She deserves to be remembered and her memory will remain alive through the stories I pass on to my children and grandchildren.  She was there for me so often.  She had a heart that didn’t stop and a deep love for her family.  She had been in much pain for the last 10 years due to a nerve condition that they could never resolve.   

Anthony, my son, who was born September 1989, but died of SIDS at 2 months. Here he is with my sister the day he was born.

 

I have just buried it so I could just get stronger.  I do not know where she was in her walk, though I shared the love of Jesus with, and prayed for, her.  Somehow I kept thinking if I knew she was safe in Jesus’ presence it would make it so much easier.  And I believe it would have, but I think God wants me to feel this uncertainty so that I can cling to Him right now.  So that I feel an even stronger urgency to pray for those I love and have a burden to share the love of Jesus with others.    

 See, our close friends and neighbors had a death on Sunday.  Our friend Len lost his dad.  It was his mom and dad’s anniversary.  I could barely show feelings.  I realize that I have put a bandage on my heart to block the injury I have from losing my Grammie and in the process I have blocked a part of me that feels for others in their grief.  I realized that when I could not allow myself to cry for their loss.  I don’t want to do that again.  I did that for years with Anthony and ended up shunning death and those who mourned.  Time to take the bandage off and give the wound some air so that it can toughen up and heal.    

I think, if I could ask anything of anyone it would be the lesson that came with the Waltons.   

 Gabby, our youngest, has been on a mission to watch all the Walton’s shows first.  I started getting the seasons a few years ago for holidays and then Ron got all but   

#5 of the 8 seasons.  She found that she had really only watched half of them by the time she got to 8 because she did not know the DVDs were two sided.  What I watched was the learning experiences she gained from the show, and what it made me feel in nostalgia.  As the seasons rolled on they lost Grandpa.  Then many health tragedies struck them.  Momma got sick, depressed, and then had to go tend to John boy who was in the hospital after being injured in the war.  Grandma went away for a while after having had stroke herself.  They had a house fire.  All these tragedies, yet we watched their love and faith heal them as a family.  They were never the same after each event.  It changed them.  It changed us.  It made us reflect.  It made us wish we could go back.  Back to the sweet first days when everyone was alive and well.  When youth with all it’s energy and beauty was like the breath of Spring.    

How do you get beyond that in life?  Are you really ever meant to?  For the Walton’s we started watching side two at the beginning of the series today.  We want to go back and with a tv show we can.  Now everyone is alive and all are happy.(though still poor, lol)  But I reflected upon that as I came in to Gabby going, “Hurray!  Grandpa is alive!”  It created a thrill in me.  A joy of sorts.  May seem shallow about a show, but I think it went deeper.  It made me think of Jesus, his sacrifice, and his raising from the dead.  With Jesus we all will have that thrill someday.  I pray that everyone can be certain of that by wrestling with their doubts, their faith, with the realization of their mortality as humans.  Jesus has given us a gift that will allow us to have that thrill one day with our loved ones.  Gift those who love you with a profession of your faith so that they can have the comfort of knowing that they will see you again some day.  If you struggle with the belief in God, Jesus, and salvation I would ask that you write to me.  I would be happy to send you resources or talk to you about what it all means.  I won’t force it upon the unwilling, but will be more than happy to share with the seekers who are hearing Jesus knock on the door of their hearts.  My Grammie had that picture on her wall, but I don’t really know what she made of it.  The picture of Jesus knocking on the door.  I pray she let Him in.    

Blessings, Stephanie

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3
Jun

God’s Growth Chart

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

I think I remember growth charts unfondly because they represented either being sick, or being too short to get on a ride growing up.  I am reflecting on that today for a couple of reasons.

First, my kids wanted to get measured on the door frame.  Something I have been doing for almost 19 years.  As soon as Ryan could stand he was up against the wall with a pencil on top of his head.   Now it is only the two youngest that care.  The Ryan is done growing and Bree is pretty sure she is done.  Andrew and Gabby, on the other hand, are growing like weeds.  Since October both of them have grown almost 2 inches.  The days of pants too short, and clumsiness (due to being off balance from the growth) are upon us.  I am glad that I started this tradition with my kids.  They love looking back through the years ( I transferred the information every time we moved.) and see how much they grew and when one passed the other.  They are only 22 months apart but the Gabby has come close to Andrew a couple of times.  I think those days may be over now, but they still do a good job matching up growing spurts.

Today this seems significant because of the other reason that has been on my mind.  I read today about another missionary family in Peru that sounds like a sister family.  We both are living in barns, turned homes.  We both have bugs, though I have no doubt theirs are bigger and scarier, and we both home school children that would not be classed as your “seen and not heard” children.  Normal in so many ways but, speaking of my own children, some learning difficulties that we have had to hurdle along the way.  I laughed and sympathized with much of what they had to say in their blog. 

My heart is so divided between here and Peru.  But I started thinking about how I would have handled living as they are without the time to grow in contentment.  There are many types of growth.  And as people, from the time we can express it, cannot wait to grow up.  When we are grown up we cannot wait for other things and often run ahead blindly.  We make mistakes, we learn, we grow in wisdom.  I started looking at where we were when the notions of being missionaries first hit us.  Oh we were spoiled.  Not by American terms maybe, but by most of the world’s standards.  Nice home, nice income, got what we wanted, ate what we wanted…. the list could go on.  There was much we claimed as our own.  And most would see no problem with that.  We worked hard.  We got what we worked for.  We had much growing to do before we could see God’s will for us as missionaries.  We needed to see that none of it was ours.  When we gave our lives to Christ and committed ourselves to serving Him it meant coming to terms with the whole truth, not just the parts that sounded nice.  Not just the parts that felt good.  But everything we have is God’s and we have to not just be will to reluctantly surrender it, but be willing to give it all to him if we are to truly serve Him.

This learning process has taken time.  Not time we wanted, but time God used to grow us to this point.  And I know that if there is delay in us going to the field that it is a delay that God is using for more growth.  Either for us or for others.  I am not a patient person by nature.  Once I know what I am suppose to do then I want to “get er done”!  But God did not exercise a lack of patience with his creation and I look at the time that he took so often to teach his people.  Sometimes he required much sacrifice from them and sometimes little.  But always with great wisdom and purpose did he plan out their lives and I cannot help but realize that truth in my own life.

We wanted to be to language training by the beginning of the year; this year!  We went to training last July with a time table that rushed us where we wanted to go.  I just about died when they told us that we would more than likely project going January 2011.  I think I was almost depressed about it.  I wanted to go then…not wait a year and a half.  Now, that we are 2/3 of the way to that date, I can see why, in all wisdom, they would tell us that.  There was, and still is, much to do.  Most of what we can focus on is schooling and fundraising, but I see what God has on his agenda for us to accomplish too.  One funny thing was us living in this barn/apartment.  We are living more simply than we ever have and are forgoing luxuries that we would have considered necessities at one time.  We did not plan this as training, but God did.  We have had so many vehicle breakdowns and needed to depend on God for the answers that we would not have planned out, were it our choice.  Yet God deemed these good experiences for our training. 

The one that is heaviest on my heart right now is the fundraising.  I know that God is able to provide for all our needs according to His will.  And we are confident that His will is for us to be missionaries in Peru.  For what ever reason he has deemed us to wait.  The funds are not coming in by our time table, yet we are doing all that we have learned to do.  What is God waiting for?  I don’t know.  But my faith and my heart tell me that God is teaching someone something and this is a growing time.  Maybe he has spoke to someone, or many someones, that they are to give big and He (and we) are waiting for their obedience.  Maybe there are more life lessons that He sees us needing.  Maybe there is someone or something that needs us here before we go.  We just don’t know. 

But we wait in faith and we keep our eyes on the growth chart.  Marking off the new growth and know that we are on our way to being tall enough for the ride.  Praise God for His divine wisdom.  Help us in thanking God for this and for how Great He really is.  Pray for our paitence and for God speed to always be the speed we grow at!

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16
Apr

The Storm Will Not Overtake You!

   Posted by: Ron & Stephanie Kenaston    in Our Mission

I love the story of Jesus walking on water found in Matthew 14. Jesus’ disciples headed out in a boat while Jesus dismissed the crowds He had just been teaching. After spending time alone to pray, Jesus headed out during the fourth watch of the night to the boat full of disciples which was being beaten about by the waves far offshore. When the disciples saw him, they freaked thinking it was ghost. Jesus reassured them by saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Peter responded by saying, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus commanded Peter to come, and Peter stopped out of the boat and headed toward Jesus. Of course, we all know that when Peter saw the wind and waves he began to doubt and sink, but Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of Peter saying, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
 
So many aspects of this situation intrigue me.  I have started analyzing the wording of passages.  I have found many different lectionary and commentary sources to help me with that.  Also looking at the wording as it was originally.  I hope that you get something out of this too. The story of Jesus walking on the water follows the story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. It is interesting to note how Jesus reacts after this and the reactions of the disciples.

VERSES 22-23:  HE WENT UP THE MOUNTAIN BY HIMSELF TO PRAY

22Immediately Jesus made (Greek:  enankasen –– compels) the disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come, he was there alone.

 “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat”  The disciples obey Jesus, trusting him and willing to follow his guidance.  They had just seen Jesus feed 5 thousand people with hardly anything! 

“After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray”   He tried to find a quiet place earlier, but the crowds interrupted him (14:13).  Now he finds the opportunity to pray. He could have taken his friends and students with him, but he knew, as  we sometimes do, that we need to get alone with God.  What we have to say, reflect on, thank him for, is between God and you.  Jesus set the example.  Sometimes we are so frantic about a situation that we try to call anyone and everyone, or visit someone, or wait to go to bible study, but what we need to do is just get alone and lay it all out to God.  We find too much worth in other people helping us rather than first relying on God and then petitioning others to pray with and for us. 

VERSES 24-27:  TAKE HEART, IT IS I; DO NOT BE AFRAID

 24But the boat was now in the middle of the sea (Greek: stadious pollous apo tes ges –– many stadia from the land), distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25In the fourth watch of the night (Greek:  tetarte de phulake tes nuktos –– in the fourth watch of the night) Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear.  27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying “Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid.”

 “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (v. 24).  The boat is studious pollous–– many stadia –– from land.  A stadion is about 600 feet, and John tells us that the disciples had gone about twenty-five to thirty stadia –– about three miles (John 6:19), which would put them near the middle of the sea. 

 “In the fourth watch of the night” (tetarte de phulake tes nuktos –– in the fourth watch of the night) (v. 25a).  The fourth watch is 3:00 to 6:00 a.m., and the disciples have had an amazing day.  I cannot imagine how tired they are.

 “Jesus came to them, walking on the sea”(v. 25b).  “In Biblical literature, the sea is often represented as the abode of demonic forces hostile to God” (Craddock, 400).  To have command over the sea is God’s exclusive right. 

 Matthew has identified Jesus as Emmanuel –– God with us (1:23) –– and this story reinforces that role.  The story of the disciples on the sea  holds a promise that Jesus comes to Christians in the midst of the storm –– that the storm does not hold the upper hand –– that Christ is present with us in the storm and redeems us from the storm.

When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying,

“It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear” (v. 26.)  The storm, while dangerous, is familiar.  It is not until they see Jesus that they are afraid.  They fear that they are seeing a ghost. 

Jesus responds with a threefold statement:  Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid” (v. 27). “Don’t be afraid!” is not a rebuke but an encouragement.  “I AM WHO I AM” (Greek:  ego eimi –– literally “I am”) is God’s name (Exodus 3:14).  “Don’t be afraid” is also an encouragement rather than a rebuke.

VERSES 28-31:  YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT?

28Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.” 29He said, “Come!” Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus. 30But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

“Peter answered him and said, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters'” (v. 28).  It is the story of every Christian –– our story too –– as we move back and forth between doubt and faith –– sometimes focused on the storm and sometimes focused on Jesus. 

“He said, ‘Come!’ Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus” (v. 29).  For Peter, this is a moment both of weakness and strength.  He doubts, but wants to believe.  He fears, but steps out of a perfectly good boat into the storm. 

“But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out saying, ‘Lord, save me!'” (v. 30).  Peter calls out, “Lord, save me!” –– expressing faith even through his fear.

Jesus says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (v. 31b).  Jesus first saves Peter, then rebukes him. 

I hope you have made it this far through this.  I know it is long and full.  But the best is at the end.  Why?  Because is speaks of us who are following Jesus on the hard road.  In unknown conditions.  In the face of things we have not seen before.  As missionaries we have made a choice very similar to the disciples of Jesus’ time.  He said follow me and we are.  But there are no promises of calm seas and easy living.  What he does promise is to always be there and never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and this passage above is an extreme example, but a very good one for us and those who are going out in uncharted territory in their lives to serve God.

So, OUR HOPE.  It is in that God knows our journey and invites us anyway.  He knows we will have weak moments, times that we are afraid, and difficult times.  But when during all those times he is right there.  And when we start to sink and cry out to Him he will reach down and save us.  This part makes me reflect on the vision that brought me to my Lord Jesus in the first place.  Never having read this before, yet my words were, “Jesus, save me!”  How amazing and reaffirming is that?  And I know that my Lord is there as we feel like we are struggling in raising finances.  As we look at the waves that seem to be tossing us.  As we feel like we are sinking.  But do not lose heart!  Remember what Peter did and cry out to your Savior for he is already reaching out His hand to you.  Amen.

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