|The view from our Abu Dhabi living room. That flat piece of land just in front of the large storage tanks became a metaphor for my last 10 years.|
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Lenten Pilgrimage -- called to BE a threshold
Seven or eight years ago I took part in a silent day of prayer that became one of those key markers in my understanding of life with Jesus. Sometime late in the day I found myself watching, from the window of our Abu Dhabi skyscraper, the final leveling of a piece of land two or three properties further up the coastline. It had long been "The Tourist Club," a pay-by-the-day beach leisure spot well loved and well used by the city's inhabitants for rest, play, community, and exercise. But Abu Dhabi had grown so that The Tourist Club was surrounded and dwarfed by shiny big buildings.
As I watched that final leveling, the Lord impressed on me that this was what He was doing in my life. The move to Abu Dhabi had taken so much--work that I loved, community, fruitful ministry, memories of 26 good years and the birth and growth of two fine young adult children who did not come with us. The new landscape of "what will I do here" was interesting and varied, and fruitful. But it did not seem to be life-giving for me. I struggled with a sense of having lost myself.
Mesmerized by those bulldozers, I sensed God whispering, "What you see down there, that is what I am doing in your life. Flattening you. On purpose. To make you ready for something new. The old was good, and will be remembered. But We're done with that. Things have changed in and around you. I have different uses for you now."
As I opened my heart to receive this gift, I found comfort in knowing the land I watched was high value, treasured. I knew that the deconstruction was not about failure or uselessness, but about a maturing of many things. I had no idea what was to be built, but could imagine a shiny skyscraper with a resort hotel, fine restaurants, premium office space, and luxury flats.
Three or four years later the land remained vacant. The area was (and is yet today) still known as The Tourist Club area though The Tourist Club was long gone. I, too, still wandered the wilderness flattening of my life. A full life, but a time of letting many things go, and taking up quieter, less structured ways.
Then I saw a master development model for the city of Abu Dhabi.
No fancy building. That land was reserved to be the foundation of a bridge to an island offshore, a place that had been bare ground when The Tourist Club was taken apart. By then, Reem Island was fast becoming shiny skyscrapers, a marina, shopping, and all manner of upscale development where many thousands would move to live and work and play. Access to the island was some way south of us, and I’d never considered that more than one bridge would be necessary for the huge population to come and go.
A bridge footing. A launching place. A stable place. A needed place people would pass over without ever noticing the valuable ground. A place from which they would fly to new and better.
Ah, the joy, the relief, and the humor of it!
And so here is what emerged from my week of Lenten prayer with Moses and Miriam at the threshold of the promised land:
Called to BE a threshold
Unnoticed beneath their feet
A crack in the wall, a portal of shekinah glory
High value property becomes foundation for a bridge to a better place
Willing to live unnoticed, to be that narrow way
To stand quiet, waiting their resistance until they are ready to journey. …Or not.
To be trod upon
To feel the breath of their passage, they who will barely remember I was there
To watch, to stay firm, to pray as they take flight to freedom
“He must become greater; I must become less.” John the Baptist (John 3:30)