Making a Connection

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Living a few thousands miles from most travel destinations means hours in transit from one city to another. Airline miles accumulate as I savor Chickfila in Houston and give thanks for complementary cookies with a sandwich in Denver, and skim through the United app for gate numbers.

I join the travelers busily making their way through terminals, wheels clicking along walking pathways. Everyone is trying to make a connection. Honolulu to Denver to Dallas. Honolulu to LAX to St. Louis. Indianapolis to Denver to Honolulu.

Amidst all the connecting, I can’t help but notice a disconnect. As we sit sit in uncomfortable vinyl seat aimlessly scrolling through our phones, we’re careful to leave a few seats between ourselves, all waiting to hear the call:

“We’ll now begin pre-boarding, would all travelers with a disability, children under the age of two, or military personnel in uniform please come forward.”

Connection is what we crave. We’ve been made for it. From the beginning of time it’s been said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” I see its truth as the couple next to me holds hands, a tragic memoir of love lost unfolds on my Kindle, and I anticipate a hug upon landing.

Sometimes though our need for connectedness leaves us broken, as we look for it in all the wrong places. A pink heart on Instagram. A thumbs up on Facebook. A swipe left or right. The list goes on.

How often do we stop the scrolling, look-up, and see how opportunities to connect surround us in the wonder of our world?

Last month, I sat in Denver, put away my phone and grabbed my eclipse glasses. I made my way over to a mother and a son standing along the expanse of glass and looked-up alongside them as the moon partially crossed the sun. I passed my glasses to a girl my age. “My dad told me about it,” she told me. “My dad gave me the glasses,” I said. Together, we marveled at creation as nearby travelers nearby took selfies wearing their glasses too.

Last week, again I sat in the Denver airport, I listened as two strangers shared how they preferred family time over following football, how the younger of the men had a wife and four kids he loved in the Dakotas and how he was on his way to the Philippines to help out his brother who is a missionary there. I admired their connection over just two minutes of conversation, how easily and naturally the Gospel news was shared.

We’ve been made for those moments: the sharing of wonder, the partaking of food, the back and forth of storytelling. And while I don’t have any airline connections to make for a few months, the challenge remains:  Where must we disconnect to connect? Where is there connection to make in the midst of the commonplace?

 

 

 

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His Story, Our Story

Written for the July Issue of NADCE Quarterly

Whether it’s the child cuddled up next to mom enthralled with a picture book, a group of teens huddled around a campfire reciting tall tales, or the page turner that keeps us until the early hours of the morning, at the heart of us all is the desire for a good story.

Psalm 139 declares, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Every moment and chapter has been divinely authored. His hand penned the story of all creation, and it pens even the smallest detail of each of our lives. The stories He writes intersect, and in the intersections, we discover beauty, brokenness, love, and grace.

Too often though, I like to be the one holding the pen.  Everyday, I’m learning  to give the pen back to Him, because if I were the author of my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

As a high school student, I sat  in World History class, examining a map of Asia, and thinking about how I would likely only ever read and learn about the places and never experience them firsthand. Then, in college, I was sent to Thailand on a mission trip and to Vietnam for student teaching. Only God could have penned those travels.

I remember hearing some fellow teachers during student teaching talking about their Christmas plans in Hawaii and distinctly thinking, “It must be nice to be able to go to Hawaii; I’m sure my finances won’t allow that and probably won’t ever visit there.” Now, here I am a Director of Christian Education in Hawaii. While I would have penned a ministry in the Midwest, God is writing this chapter in ways I couldn’t of imagined.

No matter where we are, what a joy it is to have  a ministry of building relationships, hearing, and telling stories. We ponder His penmanship and plans and how our stories are woven into a greater narrative.

We tell of the Master Storyteller: the stories of God’s people defeating armies with clanging jars,  men standing alive in a blaze of fire, women at wells, radical love on a cross, and a terrorist’s life transformed by the power of the Gospel .

We tell of the ways He’s intersected in our lives and lives of those we serve: the VBS volunteer who should be dead because his heart stopped twice, the boy with autism who has made friends at Sunday school, the embrace with 89 year old woman in the emergency room who has just lost her only daughter.

Giving Him the pen is an act of trust. We never know exactly where we are in this ethereal narrative. Some chapters pass by fleetingly, while others are retold time and time again. No matter what, His presence is always there, intersecting in each moment in ways we often don’t even see and transforming our hearts to tell His story. Let this be our prayer: “Lord, Write your Word on our hearts. May the our lives proclaim your story.”