Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bond of Sisters, Bond of Christ

Those who know me only through my blog or other social media outlets know me as a singular person. Rebekah Hope. But to those who run in the circles of friends and family I am one part of a duet known as "Bekah and Jordan" or more commonly "The Ward Girls". One part is rarely without the other. My sister and I share something special. Actually, we share most everything - an apartment, a car, clothing, and countless other things. We're rarely apart. We don't think twice about it. It's our "normal". Neither realizes how abnormal or unique this relationship is until we get the funny looks and the exclamations of "It's so great you and your sister can do that! My siblings and I could never..."

But it wasn't always this way. In my early teens I made a lot of the 18 months and 2 grade levels between Jordan and I. I was determined that we would never be on the same playing field in any arena, convinced I was superior as the older, "wiser" sister. As teenagers we fought constantly. I love sharing this story because  watching peoples faces as Jordan and I tandem in the telling is the best part. When they see our relationship now they can hardly believe there was a time we didn't get along - at all. Aside from my own salvation, this is the greatest miracle God has done in my life.

I will never forget the night. At fifteen years old, after a particularly bad argument with Jordan, I was praying on the floor of my bedroom. I couldn't reconcile my desire to please the Lord with the way I acted towards my sister. I knew it wasn't right. But she was my little sister. What did she know? What gave her the right to correct me in anything? God stopped that thought with these words, "That girl in the next room? You need her. She sees the absolute worst parts of you and loves you anyway. I gave her to you for a reason." That night repentance took place. Many cleansing tears were shed. We agreed in prayer for the first time as sisters and we've never been the same since.  

I never would've anticipated how much I would grow to need my sister over the years. In the beginning learning to swallow my pride and allow my sister to address my attitude was rough. But now there are few who can speak into my life with the impact that she does. Jordan is one of the best listeners I know, but when she speaks - pay attention. It's not hard to do because she gets right to the point! (among our friends this is known as "the chin quiver" - when Jordan gets passionate she hits right on the mark!) I love that about her. She speaks the truth to me whether I want to hear it or not. My stubborn heart needs that.

People have told us that we bicker like an old married couple. We laugh, because we know it's true. But it's taught us how to resolve conflicts quickly. There is so much we have learned from each other and continue to learn. After so many years doing everything together it took a bit to adjust to the fact that we have completely separate interests. She can spend hours doing crafts of all kinds (knitting, quilting, sewing, etc. I swear the girl is a 70 year old woman in a 21 year olds body) leaving me completely bored. While I spend hours writing and she's probably read only about a half dozen of my blog posts.

One of the things that I'm most grateful for is that Jordan has taught me how to laugh at myself. I take things way too seriously and make a dramatic big deal out of just about everything. She makes me see things through her eyes and realize how ridiculous I'm being. Jordan reminds me of this verse from Proverbs 31, "She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future." So often she sees the bigger picture, therefore finding it easier to laugh in the present. There are few things I enjoy more than laughing with my sister.

I have only to look at Jordan to be reminded of the redemptive power of God. There is no way that we would have a relationship apart from Him. I am in awe of the miracle that took place in our relationship 8 years ago and consider it an honor to be a part of this duo. What a privilege to be associated with such a God-fearing, talented, and beautiful young woman!

Jordan, I am so proud of the woman you are growing into. Each talent amazes me with your handmade dresses, beautiful quilts, woven jewelry and perfect pie crusts. Every day I see your heart transformed to look more and more like Jesus. You have the heart of a servant in every way. Thank you for working so tirelessly to serve me. You never complain, though you have every right to. I am so grateful for the example you set for me. I thank God for you, my precious sister. I love you.  

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Cry of Desperation

This is an illustration that I wrote several years ago after reading Luke 18:35-43. I pictured the scene vividly, looking something like this.

The scent of my own sweat was heavy that day as I sat on the edge of the road near Jericho. I listened to the cicadas buzzing, keeping my ears tuned for the sound of footsteps. There hadn't been many travelers on the road that day. I ran my fingers inside my empty alms bowl, wondering if I would be able to find a meal that evening - my only meal for the day. My stomach growled at the thought of food, and I sighed.

In the distance I heard voices, coming towards me slowly. Before long, multitudes of people were passing me by on every side, pressing me to stand and pushing me further off the road. Confused, I asked where all these people were coming from and someone told me, "The Great Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, is passing by Jericho!" The Rabbi? Jesus? Could this be the great teacher I'd heard so much about? My cousin told me of how He'd recently healed ten lepers in a village of Galilee. There was rumor that He was the Messiah, the one we'd waited for, our Redeemer. I heard that He healed the blind before. Surely He could heal me. But how would He even see me? There were many people here. I heard voices all around me. How could I get His attention? How do I even know where He is?

Before I could stop myself I lifted my voice and began to cry out, "Jesus! Son of David! Have mercy on me!" I knew I looked like a madman. "Jesus! Have mercy on me!" I felt heat rush up my face in embarrassment as I struggled to make myself heard over the crowd of voices. The people closest to me grew quiet and I could feel the judgmental stares. I pushed aside my shame and continued to cry, "Have mercy on me, Jesus! Jesus!" Someone shoved against me roughly and said, "Be quiet man! Don't disturb the master with your yelling!" Even still, as the crowd continued to move past me I lifted my voice louder, straining to make myself heard. My mouth and throat were coated with dust stirred by the crowd. I couldn't stop now! I had hope. Hope that I would see the Son of God. Desperation grew in me and I cried out with urgency, "Son of David, have mercy on me! Jesus! Have mercy on me!"

I soon realized that the constant shove toward the city ceased. I paused to listen, trying to understand why they stopped. In the distance a voice gave a command that I couldn't quite hear. People around me started murmuring and whispering. I heard a woman ask, "What is the Master going to say to him?" Him? Who did she mean? Someone nearby muttered in frustration, "The whole crowd is stopping because that blind fool couldn't keep his mouth shut!" I don't think he cared that I heard him. I felt the stillness grow before I heard it. Suddenly, a man took hold of my arm and spoke, "The Master would like to see you. I will lead you to Him." One of His followers began to lead to me through the crowd to the place where Jesus stood. I stumbled behind him, sure that my beating heart could be heard by all those standing in silence around me.

You did not need to tell me the moment I stood before the Son of David. His very presence was one of authority - yet not authority that induced fear. Rather, my heart became still in perfect peace. The multitude collectively held their breath, awaiting His words. Would He rebuke me? Touch me? Send me away? He simply asked me a question, "What do you want me to do for you?" Relief flooded my mind, I felt as though I were a child being offered a wish for my greatest desire. But this was no wish - the man before me was the very Son of God who could bring the impossible to pass. Overcome with emotion, my request came through a sob, "Lord, that I may receive my sight!" Oh! I will never forget His words to me! "Receive your sight; your faith has made you well." Immediately my eyes were opened and I saw! Oh, the light! The Light! The Light of the World flooded my darkness. And from that moment forward I knew I would follow Him.

I plan on following this with a post about the desperate cries of our hearts. But in the meantime...

Have you ever cried out in desperation? What was the response?