Sunday, June 28, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...eternity in their hearts

Alper and Tuğba step to a different beat. I guess them to be 30-ish. They’ve been in Kaş for six years—which makes them newcomers and still outsiders among at least some of the Turkish community. Their small jewelry store displays lovely original pieces in a wide variety of semi-precious stones. A passionate gardener and able handy-man, Alper spends many of his days doing physical labor. Evenings and other free time are for the shop. He has one of those minds that constantly runs four to six different tracks, is full of ideas, and fixes on details. Tidy order is essential for him, and he’s a natural-born recycler. “Intense” is one way I would describe him. Tuğba is beautiful, artistic, and shy. Her hands are constantly busy with new pieces during her days at the shop's small worktable while her intelligent eyes follow the flow of conversation.

They seem to treasure each other and to keep very close. And they have this gentle generosity. In memory, I watch Alper carefully choose a necklace and give it as a gift to our daughter, take me to the post-office so I can learn to pay the phone bill, and meet me at the bus station the day I leave because he doesn’t think anyone should undertake a journey with no one to see them off and wish them well.

Alper and Tuğba don’t have much stuff, but they have dreams. They watch every lira as they carefully build. When we first met they had a tiny shop in a terrible location. And enthusiasm and hope. Before that, they had a table on the street. They had sold an old family carpet to get the seed money for that. This year they’ve moved to better space and the business is growing. They have their eye on some land in the mountains 20 kilometers or so away, and already they envision fruit trees under cultivation and the beginnings of a small house.

For the merchants of Kaş one day flows into another in the ceaseless rhythm of “the season.” There is no weekend, no day off, no long lie. Shops open no later than mid-morning and are still open at midnight. Alper has been opening by 8 am to catch the boat traffic. Many vendors sleep over the shop or in a back room, and exist in the narrow radius of the shop and the tea vendor.

What a surprise, then, when Alper and Tuğba invited us to their place for a Sunday afternoon. “We work very hard,” said Alper. “And that is good. We don’t mind to work hard. But it is not good for a person to work all the time. We need time to rest, and we need time to be together. So we close the shop on Sunday and have a day off. People think we are crazy, but we do it.”

Ecclesiastes is a provocative book. Chapter 3 became well-known in the late 60’s when Joni Mitchell recorded a song based on its wisdom: “To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn, and a time to every purpose under heaven….

Ancient literature shows us a time when humanity understood life as an endless wheel circling round and round. Birth, life, death, birth, life, death. Day after day after day, with no beginning and no end, no progression or purpose. In Genesis we have the first recorded human understanding that time is linear, that there was a beginning, that there is progression, that there is purpose and an end-point. Ecclesiastes 3 speaks to this, I think, in its description of seasons and cycles of time as part of a larger purpose “under heaven.”

That writer goes on to say, in verses 9-11, “What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on people. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Not only is God the author of linear time that is progressing towards the fulfillment of His purposes, but He has set some whisper of understanding in the hearts of human beings—who are, after all, created in His image.

Alper and Tuğba give me a glimpse of this as they make an utterly counter-cultural choice that manifests God’s image in them. At creation, Genesis records, God set a pattern of six days of work and one of rest—a day to step back and enjoy the fruits of labor, to fellowship, to celebrate, to be refreshed. A day that is an act of faith in a good and powerful God who is willing and able to keep the world turning and provide for our needs without our help. A day that many among those who call themselves the people of God ignore. Somehow these two grasp it, and choose to risk celebration.

O Lord, bless them! Increase their fruitfulness, even as You sustain their relationship with one another. And as Alper and Tuğba savor this simple revelation, would You show them ever more of Yourself and give them the inner freedom to choose to embrace that, too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş …call to prayer

Five times every day the call to prayer streams from the mosque to envelop the town. The singer invites the faithful to pause, cleanse themselves, and bow before Allah—now standing, now kneeling, now with forehead on the ground.

Five times each day: before sunrise, around lunchtime, mid-afternoon, late afternoon, and evening. After years in the Middle East, I barely notice. Lately, though, I’ve given more thought to the awareness of God’s presence that a pause for prayer might bring.

In April, friends took me to a Benedictine monastery in Northern Ireland where monks gather to sing “the hours” several times each day, using the Psalms as their source. Shortly before, I’d browsed a book at a friend’s house in Baku. The author, a pastor, talks about that rarified morning time of reading and prayer—and the emptiness of how little its blessed insights impact his intense days. From his own search for a more penetrating awareness of God’s presence, he suggests a personal practice of “hours,” and even proposed a schedule and format. We talked some about it with our hosts. They found the idea overly ritualized. It put them off.

But my hunger is similar to that pastor’s. It’s not that I don’t pause for prayer during my day. We pray grace at meals, and at meetings and studies. I pray for directees and others who come to talk about spiritual things. I throw up “arrows” of prayer when surprised and uncertain what to do. I lean into God when I’m stumped and barren in my writing. But this pause simply to give God worship, this pause that is active as it requires one to interrupt the flow of work and move to a place and position for prayer, or even to gather with the community, this is different.

I’m “nudged.” In Kaş last month I decided to respond by intentionally interrupting whatever I was up to each time the mosque call began. I would go stand on the balcony, as though standing next to Jesus as He brooded over the town, and pray for the community until the call ended. An experiment. A learning.

First I learned how rarely the familiar call penetrates my awareness. I never hear it before dawn, and probably only notice about half of the other times. At the beginning of my experiment when I did notice I would go, stand and look, and find lots of things for which to pray: people I care about, situations and events of the day, the peace and prosperity of the town, the possibilities of the gospel, the timing of our move there. I watched people scurry by below me, to the grocery store, or to their cars, or into the school—people alone, people with friends, people buzzing by on scooters. I saw how they, too, seemed oblivious to the call. No one stops work to head for the mosque, or even pauses in their conversation. A big change from 20 years ago. I began to pray for the imams who make the calls, for God to touch their broken, frustrated hearts.

Later, as the “new” of my experiment wore off, I found that I could be aware the call had begun, but unwilling to be interrupted. Whatever I was focused on took precedence over prayer, whether it was an exciting discovery of just how to express a complex thought, or a conversation with another person, or solitaire on the computer. Sometimes I didn’t want to go to the balcony because it was hot. That brought me to some shame, and some repentance, reminded of how easily our human agendas overtake and consume us so that we fail to respond when God interrupts.

Then came days when I could no longer think of much to pray for, save to repeat what I’d already prayed. To say anything began to feel like babbling. I would stand and wrack my brain for something fresh. I decided it was time to stop talking and listen, and look. The sense that I was invited to stand and brood with Jesus increased.

“For My house will be called a house of prayer for all people.” Isaiah 56:7 jumped off the page at me. My heart went to the Gőkseke house, for that is our vision: a welcome, and space available, to anyone God might bring to pray, to lean in to Him, to seek and explore the reality of His presence. Isaiah’s context is a prophecy that strangers and foreigners, not just returning exiles, will find a spiritual home with the people of God.

I hear Isaiah’s words in another way, too. Our “house” is God’s house—wherever in the world He may place us. That image of Jesus standing and brooding over Kaş, and drawing us to stand and brood with Him—oh, the deep, deep love. In a town where no one knows His Name He is present, He is protecting, and He desires to be known and to bless.

O Lord, thank You for the certainty that You look out over Kaş, for the humbling realization that You drew us there to watch and love with You. Grant, please, that we, in all our fallen frailty, would act worthily. We long for Your presence to so permeate our days that Your life spills out to the bits and the few that we touch. By whatever means, increase Yourself in us.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...a vine cut off

There is no church in Kaş, so each Sunday evening we gather with whatever believers are around to share table fellowship. Sometimes at Ken and Eva’s flat, sometimes at ours. Sometimes it’s just Curt and me, or even just me. Whoever—we celebrate the presence and promise of Jesus among us, the One who is enough.

A few weeks ago seven of us gathered on the highest balcony of the Gőkseke house. Cait was there, and so were friends Stephanie and Josh. Ken and Eva, too. Ken shared from John 15, where Jesus calls Himself vine and us His branches. Branches produce grapes through the life that courses and radiates from the vine.

As Ken talked, I noticed an old bit of vine that clung to the railing. It was deader than dead, brown and brittle with these minuscule dried-up grapes. Our gardener had taken the plant the summer before, but because the house was shut up he couldn’t get to the balcony.

I gazed at those tiny, dead grapes and wondered what my “fruit” looks like to Jesus. Me, thinking myself in a lofty space, intertwined and sturdy with a panoramic outlook, when in truth sometimes I cut myself off from Jesus in my spirit. Pride, self-interest, or just habits of fitting in, complacency. So that no supernatural life courses through me, and my proud, self-manufactured “fruit” is dead, dead, dead.

A few days later I went back to the house with my camera so I could show you that dead vine. I climbed all the steps, and struggled with the stiff lock on the balcony door. I looked. No vine! The gardener had been back, this time with a key to the house. No doubt glad to finish, he had torn away the branches and consigned them to the burn pile.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the Gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a person remains in me and I in her, she will bear much fruit…. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:1-8 (excerpts)

I couldn’t take the photo of the dead branch, but perhaps this one of this year’s tended vine with its budding new life is a better image to contemplate.

O Lord, heal us! Show us the dead places--not to discourage us, but so that we can receive your gracious tending and pruning and experience Your life coursing ever more through us. We long to bear Your fruit, fruit that will satisfy, fruit that will last!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaș …weeds in the fence

The Gőkseke house was a shambles when we bought it. Roof leaking, junk everywhere, garden weedy and overgrown. Part of its challenge—and its charm. Last summer we engaged compulsively-thorough Alper to clean the garden. We talked about which trees to remove, overhanging limbs to cut back, insects and diseased plants to tend, and nutrition for the soil along the fence. We discussed plants we love—jasmine, vines, roses, wild geranium and bougainvillea. Alper had watched this old garden decay for a long time and was full of ideas, suggesting lemon jasmine to discourage mosquitoes and wild daisies for groundcover. He, too, had a vision of how lovely it could be.

Then we left town. Alper and crew put in a hot, hard week, and then phoned Eda to come check the job. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach when she emailed photos. Other than trees EVERYTHING was gone! Our alluring romantic space was now eye-strain stark in the sun. How had our desires been so misunderstood?

The winter passed. Every time I thought about Gőkseke the same sad feeling rose in my gut. “It’s just a garden,” I told myself. “Renovation will probably be easier without the growing things. We can plant it again.” Still, it hurt.

Ten months passed before we saw the place, and Alper, again. By then weeds had overtaken the cleared spaces and things looked worse than ever. As we walked the lower courtyard to plan an ongoing gardening contract, Alper described his efforts of the prior summer. “We tried to save the garden,” he said, “but the weeds were too entwined with the good plants and everything grew in and around the fence. We couldn’t separate them, and so we had to take them all.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat. When the wheat sprouted, the weeds also appeared. His servants asked, ‘Do you want us to go and pull the weeds?’ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together, and I will sort it out at harvest.’” Matthew 13:24-30, paraphrased.

O, Lord, what wisdom! We just don’t have the skill or the knowledge to separate those who belong to Your kingdom from those who don’t. So we risk destroying everything when we try. You choose to allow all to thrive until You are ready to do something entirely new. Even then, you promise skilled harvesters and leave us free to simply love. Thank you for enabling me to hold my tongue over the winter. I am humbled. Bless Alper in all his work, and especially as he creates and tends the new garden with his careful, joyfully hard-working patience.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaș ... the carpet seller

“Can I offer you çay?” Over time, Recep views me less as a customer and begins to know me as friend. We've picked up a couple of small pieces from this handsome 30-year-old, and occasionally send a friend to him. But he’s also been a guest in our home, despite how hard it is to pry him away from the shop if there are tourists about.

These days when I stop by we are more likely to discuss world affairs or Turkish history than the carpets that we both love. Sometimes our talk turns to our families and personal stories.

“How is your son and his wife? Will they come to Kaș again this season?” Dan worked in Kaș last summer with a local outdoor adventure company. He and Eda are well-remembered, Dan for his height and wild red bandana-bound hair, and Eda because she looks so Turkish yet doesn’t speak the language. “Where are they now?”

“They are in Abu Dhabi.”

“Abu Dhabi? They live there, too?”

“Sure. They both have jobs there, and they live with us.”

“They live with you? Really? But you are Western. I didn’t know Western families ever stayed together!”

Recep comes from a traditional family in Konya. Though he has summered in the Kaș carpet shop since his late teens, he returns to the family home and business when the season ends. He lives with his parents, and his married brother’s place is just across the courtyard. The whole family share meals together at one house or the other, and Recep’s way of telling me this speaks of deep love and belonging, and community.

Recep isn’t the first Muslim to express amazement at our family life. Just three months ago, Aneela visited our Abu Dhabi flat. Though from the UK, her family origin is Pakistani. She couldn’t get over the “family feeling” at our place—the photos all over the frig, Dan and Eda’s engaging presence, and the safety others there find in our kitchen and around our table. “I didn’t know Westerners cared family like this!” And to think—she’s lived all her life in the UK. Another visitor stands out to me because Aysha is a Muslim convert from Wales who married a UAE national, and yet she expressed the same amazement to find a non-Muslim family together and loving it.

It’s not hard to see how someone from another culture could think we Westerners care little for family, given our TV and movies that make it around the world. But are our homes so closed to those “unlike” us?

Dan and Eda live with us for a lot of reasons. Eda comes from rural Albania and a culturally Islamic heritage. Before she and Dan married she’d rarely been out of her local area, and never out of Albania. In her culture it’s appropriate and normal for the wife of the youngest son to move to his family home. Her family was comforted, when she married in a faraway land, that she would part of a new family in their normal way. Early on, she and I spent our days together learning from each other. She learned to shop in a supermarket and cook with recipes and American measures, to host a crowd, and to manage household help. I learned to appreciate her depth of character, and to love her as a daughter, and I’ve learned a lot from her about the dignity of her culture.

The thing is, Dan has taken some flak from Western peers (and imposed some on himself) because he and Eda don’t have their own place. In their eyes, to live with us suggests failure and dependence. Our daughter, Cait, suffers some of the same as she lives with her grandfather, my dad. Her choice is a huge blessing because Dad grows more and more deaf and finds it ever harder to walk or drive, or focus on the myriad pieces of detail necessary to live on his own. Dad and Cait love each other profoundly, and they bring one another great joy. They take care of each other. Still, it hasn’t been long since she expressed that self-questioning angst: “I’m the only one of my friends who still lives with family.”

The West values independence and self-sufficiency. The East emphasizes community and family. Our children, caught between East and West through life experience and chosen relationships, are in the middle. Yet in the part of the world where Curt and I live, all of us find we have gained respect and credibility, a voice, in a way we did not imagine by these life choices.

O Lord, thank you for Cait, and for Dan and Eda, for their love for you, for us, and for one another. Praise You for touching this world through their choices. Please, continue to guide them on their unique paths, with fruitful work and ever-deepening qualities of character and faithfulness. And for Recep, Aneela, Aysha and others, bless them, protect them and their families, and direct them in the ways You have for them, too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...the carpenter

Kaș is a simple place where people make do and make things themselves, often with a mighty splash of beauty tossed in. Last year we watched a man build a stone wall in the parking lot below us. Two weeks of dawn-to-dark hard labor. He left a trough in the top, and this year it is planted with flowers and lovingly tended.

Our kitchen cabinets and closets are hand-made, as are our dining table and chairs. Sűleyman began with rough sticks of pine that he planed and laminated into panels himself. He beveled edges and trim pieces with simple hand tools, and did the decorative design in the table and chairs with a small awl. I drew pictures and jotted measures, and he interpreted with craftsmanship and simple creativity.

This kind of custom work would be outrageously expensive anywhere else. Here it’s just one of the ways you get basics, one of the ways a local guy willing to work hard with his mind, heart and hands can support his family.

We love visiting Sűleyman’s workshop. Set into the hillside beneath his Gőkseke home, one wall is completely open to the sea. The place is piled with sawdust and works in progress. Tools are few and basic, and a few photos of his pieces are tacked to the back wall. When we pull up Sűleyman’s face crinkles with delight. We talk in body language and my pigeon Turkish. Invariably patient with changes and misunderstandings, his eyes sparkle when I admire his workmanship and he loves Curt’s photos that capture the process and the human face of his furniture.

As I watch Sűleyman labor over a piece, I’m touched by his obvious love of the wood and the way it responds to his touch. I admire his quiet spirit towards his crew, and the way he frees them to do what they are good at, giving them respect and dignity. Both of his adult children have turned up when he needed extra hands to install things. His labors have allowed them university degrees and professional jobs, but their admiration, pride and love for their dad glows as they work together.

Jesus was a carpenter in a small town . I think he and Sűleyman would have gotten on. Sűleyman helps me to imagine the hard work of the carpenter shop. I think about the job-to-job nature of Sűleyman’s business. The work he’s done in our place represents close to two months of his life. I hear this past winter was a lean one. The shop can be a hot, sweaty place. Misunderstandings can lead to waste of time and money. Yet the wood is a living thing, and the most utilitarian piece can embody great beauty under a loving hand. I think about the family right there above the shop, and the community of fortune that draws a 25-year-old nurse to spend two days holding tools and nails while she and her dad chat peaceably.

Jesus was a carpenter in a small town. Watching Sűleyman, I’ve come to think that it was a good school to learn about beauty, ingenuity, people and family, patience and hard work, and human need.

Oh Lord, bless Sűleyman. Thank you for the beauty and simplicity of spirit he has shared with us. May we be Your sweet fragrance of life to him and to those he loves.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...economies and investments

Nearly two years ago we rolled in Kaş for the first time. Another stop in a multi-year, multi-national search for a place we’d visited in God’s dreams, a place where we would “retire” and throw our doors open to the world. Without knowing what it looked like we had our shopping list: great natural beauty, fabulous view, attractive year-round climate, walkable, plenty of private spaces, outdoor activities, good local food, and culturally interesting. A place people would love to visit. Preferably in the Muslim world. Er… and something we could afford to operate without having to act like a business.

We’d considered Albania, Italy, the south of France, Morocco, Oman and the UAE. We’d been in Turkey six days and hadn’t even come close. But I’d had email contact with an English fellow who made Kaş sound worth a visit.

As we cleared the last curve and saw the town spread down the rocky hillside to the sea below we both caught our breath. It looked, well, like the dream. The road wound down to the now-familiar harbor. We located the estate agent’s office, ready to go.

“Not today,” he said. “You really should get the feel of the place first.” “But we only have this afternoon and tomorrow!” we pled. “Go. Walk around. Talk to people. Tomorrow, if you still want to, we’ll look at houses.”

So we wandered the town’s heart, stopping to talk with shopkeepers and artisans, remarking on the absence of hawkers and mass-market tourist junk, the pleasant music and easy converse floating from coffee shops, restaurants and bars. Curt took photos: the ancient sarcophagus at the top of the delightfully-preserved old streets in the pedestrian area, and the pelicans and boats in the harbor.

We looked at a lot of places the next day. We saw a gorgeous new villa with infinity pool overlooking the sea, and a weird old place that ran straight up and down a cliffside with a tiny terrace at the bottom. One villa had a huge barn-roof, and three really ugly new houses just in front of it. Another was almost right, but not enough rooms and the only access to the pool was through a bedroom.

We arrived at the last place sweaty, weary, and disappointed. Access was down a narrow, weedy track in the highest part of Gőkseke village. Behind the iron gate a vine-shaded rock stairwell led straight up the mountain-side through an weedy, overgrown garden to a tower of a house almost covered with vines and bougainvillea. Junk everywhere, and three little dogs yapping and growling.

As we wandered the disheveled five stories, it felt like we had entered God’s dream. Five shady, quiet balconies overlooked the Mediterranean and beckoned us to rest and to pray. Olive trees in the rocky, unspoilt side-yard whispered to us of the Mount of Olives, and called up images of oil and lamps. Vines invited us to abide in the True Vine. We leaned our arms on the third floor balcony railing and felt we had come home.

We bought the place the next morning.

Since that day in late August I’ve had ample opportunity to revisit our decision and to wonder whether, reality suspended, we momentarily lost our minds. I’ve lived through periods of blind panic. The place has title problems. We knew that and went ahead anyway, choosing the risk. But I’m a lawyer. Shouldn’t I have known better? Since we bought, the world economy has cratered. The dollar is much stronger, so if we had waited, maybe we could have paid less. Turns out renovation costs more in Turkey than the cheerful estate agent said it would. It might have been cheaper to build a place from scratch than to remodel this one. We bat around names for the place. Curt favors something peaceful and romantic like “Fair Haven.” I call it “House of the Cracked Pots!”

One anxious day when I was feeling certain we are complete fools, I leaned into Jesus and began to muse over images of real estate investment in the Bible. My self-critical mind turned first to Proverbs, to wisdom and stewardship images of shrewd understanding and principled management.

But then actual purchases of land rose in my mind. I can think of four that God deemed worthy of record.

In Genesis 23, Abraham buys a cave at Machpelah. Though God had promised him the whole of Canaan, he’d lived for years as an alien stranger and still possessed nothing when Sarah died. He wanted a place of his own to bury her. Given the climate, there wasn’t much time to haggle. In a formal meeting with the Hittites he refuses to use one of their tombs, and insists on giving the full asking price for Ephron’s field. That cave was Israel’s first foothold in the promised land. Generations later, Joseph honored Jacob’s deathbed request and carried his bones from Egypt to be buried alongside his ancestors.

Several hundred years later, Boaz bought some land, Naomi’s land. By then, Israel had possession of Canaan, and had divided it among tribes and families. Under the Law, if there were no direct descendants left to take title to family land, it could be redeemed by a next-of-kin, but with a catch. The land came with the dead man’s wife, and any children born of that union were deemed to belong to the dead man so that the land would stay in the family. Naomi was old, and her husband and sons were all dead. Her Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth, had moved to Israel with her to share her sorrow and desperate poverty. Boaz wanted to marry Ruth, but another guy was in line for the land—and the woman. Seems like Boaz already had plenty of land of his own, and no need for Naomi’s, but he had to buy it to get Ruth. So in Ruth 4 we see him buying the land, along with its “baggage”—a title problem that meant his own children would be deemed the sons of another and the land would revert to that man’s family. All for the gracious love of an alien woman who would become one of the four women named in the line of Christ.

Fast forward to David. God calls him the man after His own heart, but David still did stupid things and angered God from time to time. 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21 record a census he ordered, and makes it clear that everyone knew this was a huge offense to the Lord. The repentant David is given a choice of judgments, and throws himself on God’s mercy. Seventy thousand die of plague, but at the threshing floor of Araunah, the Lord relents. David is commanded to build an altar there. Araunah, after encountering the angel, urges David to take the site and the animals. But David insists on paying full price to buy the place before he will worship, refusing to sacrifice in a way that costs him nothing. That bit of land would become the site of the Temple, a pivotal piece of land for both Jews and Muslims yet today.

Lastly, in the dark days just before Judah was conquered by Babylon and carried into exile, God directed his prophet Jeremiah to buy a field. Jeremiah 32 finds Jeremiah in prison and Jerusalem under siege, but he obeys this crazy command that no doubt made him look even more like a collaborator. After the deed is sealed away, Jeremiah wonders what God could possibly be doing, and God gives His promise to restore His people and to bring again a day when land would be bought and sold in a prosperous Israel.

Economies and investments. We evaluate a house or a piece of land in terms of financial return, or a safe and pleasant place for a home. These few purchases God thought noteworthy represent pure worship, investment in relationships, and radical acts of obedient faith. Abraham believed God would give him the whole land, and Jacob clung to that promise when he died in exile in Egypt. Boaz desired to marry to a foreign woman of faith and noble character, and was willing to incur the cost and take on the baggage that came with her. David owned his sin with a costly repentance and refused to take advantage of his God-given kingship to avoid the price of sacrifice. Jeremiah made a ludicrous purchase in a costly act of sheer faith.

All these are kingdom investments, and God’s economy knows no scarcity, no downturn. My anxious fear of loss, of appearing foolish for following what I perceived as God’s dream, and my temptation to second-guess our timing, is met and satisfied in His “do not be afraid.” “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted…. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:32-34.

I don’t doubt we could have heard wrong on that sweltering hot day. We may indeed have been foolish. But I think I’m beginning to grasp something about God’s economics, and I can trust Him with my feeble efforts to follow. Joyfully, truth is I’ve still never visited “House of the Cracked Pots” without a profound sense of peace descending on my spirit.

Oh Lord, we do continue to ask you for resolution to the title process in Gőkseke. Today we ask for that to happen soon so that we can begin the renovation, and start welcoming the world there.