God must Cry

Wooden candlestick being crafted on a homemade lathe in Botswana, Africa

I met a man selling African carvings at the Northwood Centre in Edmonton last week. No one was around, so I stopped to chat.

“I’m curious which country these curios are from.”

“Ghana.”

“I spent my childhood years in South Africa and Botswana.”

“That’s a long way away.”

“Yes, it is. My sister and her family are living in Cameroon, which is closer.”

“Yes! Right around the corner from Ghana.”

“Are you selling these carvings for friends?”

“Yes. I go back to Ghana every year for a visit. When was the last time you were in Africa?”

“I went with my husband and daughter in 2003. We visited Victoria Falls. The day we went there were over 100 vendors trying to sell curios to buy food for their families. It made me very sad, because I knew I couldn’t buy from all of them. It’s a beautiful country, but the politics is ruining it.”

“Politics in Africa is interesting. Everyone has an idea of what should happen. And many people end up very poor, with nothing.”

“They may be poor, but they are generous. They’ll give you the shirt off their back.”

Yes, they will. There are also many greedy people. Like churches. In Ghana every second house is a church.”

“Really? Every second house?”

“Oh yes. People have figured out there’s money to be made if you have a ‘church’ and they invite people in and take their money. They even ‘hang them upside down and shake out the pockets’ to make sure they got it all.”

“God must cry when He sees that happen.”

This conversation has continued to play in my head. And I ask myself, “How do people see me and my faith? Am I living so that they see a true picture of God, or is it all distorted? Do I make God cry?”

 

 


Christmas Is . . .

Last Sunday we were sitting in church with our five not-so-angels. As you mothers know, Sunday morning can turn from peaceful worship preparation to frantic survival mode in less than a second. This particular Sunday had more trigger points than usual:

  • It was Christmas program day. Not only that, but it was also last minute rehearsal day and we were having a potluck at church between the rehearsal and the actual program. I had promised to take sandwiches and squares.
  • I was expected to curl my youngest daughter’s hair and she doesn’t like anyone touching her. She didn’t want me to use rags in her hair the night before, so that meant I had to plan extra time into my Sunday morning routine.
  • The children had been promised horse-drawn wagon rides and caroling, adding more excitement to the already frenetic activity of the day. The wagon rides were supposed to happen the day before, but the weather had been frigid and the activity had to be post-poned
  • My husband was in the shower when I had hoped he would lend a hand.

Despite all the extra stress, we made it to church on time with everything done and all the props, clothing, and food we needed.

That’s when it happened: Pastor Kelly called all the children up to the front to say a prayer with them before they went to Sunday School. Our four younger children said goodbye to us and walked to the front. As the children were finding a place to sit, Pastor Kelly asked, “Are you getting excited about Christmas and presents and . . .”

Our son, Luke, blurted out, “Pastor Kelly, Christmas is NOT about chocolate or presents or trees or anything else. It’s about the KING!”

Wrapping paper

Those are words I’ll treasure for a long time. Some days when we are instructing our children, we wonder if anything is sinking in. This was a rare moment when we glimpsed the depth of understanding Luke has about Christmas. It’s even more special because although Luke has celebrated 13 birthdays, his comprehension is closer to that of a 5 or 6 year-old. He may not be able to understand numbers beyond 10, but in my mind, he understands something much more significant and important than anything he’ll ever learn in school. He knows that Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and King. Not only that, but Luke enjoys a personal relationship with his King and tells anyone willing to listen.

How would you finish the sentence: “Christmas is . . .”?