Ironically Broken

My little boat was far from home across a vast ocean. Helpless? Yes! Unhappy? Not at all! Life hung in limbo, perched precariously somewhere between dreams and truth. Life was picking up speed and taking me with it.

He was wounded and crushed because of our sins…
What about my “bruises” …the scabs on my head from lice and my aching stomach?
It’s hard to compare one’s sufferings to Jesus… not much purpose, I guess.
by taking our punishment, he made us completely well.

(Is. 53:5 CE)

Was it a dream or was it actually happening? I’d been in India for five months, yet my stomach was still objecting. I loved working in the children’s home, but hygiene was lacking. Sickness was unavoidable. Too weak to think straight, I found relief in letting my mind wander. My ankle-length skirt was crumpled and dusty from sitting on the bathroom floor all night. The back of my shirt was smudged with creamy powder from the cheaply whitewashed wall I leaned against. My uncombed hair resembled a bird’s nest. My body had experienced a nightlong cleansing and there wasn’t an ounce of anything left in me. After hearing my pitiful cry early that morning, Bob arose and unlocked the gate of the girls’ dorm. Without waiting for his approval, I crawled into his bathroom to clean up. I was sure he could see all my little lice friends digging through my hair. An unpleasant smell seemed to be following me.

I’d achieved my life-long dream of going to India to work in a children’s home, but by the time I went, there was a selfish motive. I was running away from God and on a search for truth. (Do those two aims work together?) I arrived in India wanting to help, but now I was a new problem to go along with all the other problems we faced daily at the children’s home. New problems were really just part of the normal daily routine. So, Yip and Bob (two other volunteers) were exploring the options… would I get better or did I need a hospital? How could they look after me? How could they get me to a hospital without a vehicle? Hmmm… what would they come up with?

My body felt strangely heavy, as though it was welded to the bed (Bob’s bed) I now lay on. Unable to lift myself, my body had turned into a gigantic brick. Dazed, I caught Bob peering at me, asking me something…

“What?”, I asked.

His ever-polite proper English accent (usually attractive to me) was annoying because I felt so revolting. And I was the casual, sloppy, down-dressed American whose English was far from proper. Now, his disapproval of my completely dishevelled state bore down on me, but I knew Bob’s soft, caring heart was forefront.

“Frieda,” he said with finality, “I’m just going to give you a little injection to stop you up”.

My mind quickly began to work and I came to my senses with a bit of dread. “Bob,” I asked wearily, “have you ever given an injection before?”

Wedged in the middle of all my dreams and aspirations; I felt like a little boat in a big storm. There was silence. No answer. “Great!” I thought to myself, unable physically mentally to rise to the challenge or of stopping him. Closing my eyes, I surrendered. Stretched out like a corpse on the wooden rope-strung bed in a tiny Indian village, I waited for “it” to happen. My little boat was far from home across a vast ocean.
Helpless? Yes! Unhappy? Not at all! Life hung in limbo, perched precariously somewhere between dreams and truth. Life was picking up speed and taking me with it. Sickness was definitely not a setback along the way, merely one of the many events leading me from dream to reality.

“Ouch!” Suddenly I was back in the reality of Bob’s little bedroom; he was pulling a needle from my arm and pressing a wad of cotton on the targeted spot. “That should take effect shortly,” he announced with a professional nod of the head.

I was excited, not scared… no doubt all the setbacks were part of a larger plan. What an odd way to get there? Yet, I was 100% willing to be part of whatever roadblocks came. Fully committed in my search for truth, I was ready to wrestle whatever got in the way. God had put the desire in me to come to India when I was a child. What I didn’t realize was that I had not chosen God. And I couldn’t go to the biblical extreme of counting my sufferings as joy. I really couldn’t do that; but upon reflection, if a “night-long cleansing session” could have the same effect on our souls, I’d be in luck; my search for truth would be shorter. Why does God insist on examining our heart in such a round-about way? And why do I keep including God when I’m running away from him? It makes no sense.

It took the Israelites 430 years before they were ready to follow God out of Egypt. I suppose a “night-long cleansing session,” if it gets me nearer to the truth, is not too much to ask. Considering how disgusting I looked that night, it’s good the bible says God doesn’t look at our appearance, but at our heart…. something about making blind eyes see. The irony of brokenness!

The Ironic Truth:

We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed.
We are confused, but we aren’t depressed.
We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned.
We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.

We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies
so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies.
(II Cor. 4:8-10)

*That’s worth pondering; perhaps it can get my little boat out of the storm.

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