providence

We’ve been illegally in this country for two weeks now.

Not by carelessness on anyone’s part that we can tell. We meticulously provided all documentation for our visa applications upon our arrival. The 90 days we get on our passports came and went, and we are waiting yet. It’s a fine example of “process” in Ecuador. A process that trumps the people it should serve, and in which the one consistency is its inconsistency. New demands came up at the last minute, including a required statement summarizing my lesson plans and work duties for each month of the school year and how we would spend our summer.
(ahem…Note to Assange – Are you sure you want to live here?)

Our visa appointment was weeks ago, and we were told it would be a matter of days before we should have them in hand. We stay busy enough that we haven’t worried. It’s unlikely that we will attract any attention that will get us deported in the coming weeks. And we may well have expected it after recently praying with another teacher whose visa lapsed and trudged on nervously through the weeks, waiting.

Yesterday, we were evacuated from the school due to a bomb threat, and released home through a back gate of the school grounds. I’ve been through this scenario before, a couple of times in the States. But it feels different when you have to call in the police and the embassy. When walking down the street or through a store with your youngest in hand, you brush by security guards with machine guns in hand. When people still talk about the recent coup attempt against the current President that shut the city down for 12 hours. These are not things we are used to in the States.

And yet, in the aftermath of an election where some disappointed voters are not just talking about leaving, but actually planning their move out of the U.S., it gets you asking – Where is better?

Ecuador is on the edge of an election as well. And as people compare and argue and find many things to grumble about, I can’t help but pick up that we are largely still looking for worldy powers – people – to fix things. to save us. to provide. I do believe that we have good leaders in various places, who serve their countries well, and there will always be those issues that provoke strong feelings for good reason. But leaders are people.

There are people, and there is the Provider.

The one Provider. And he has a name that defines that attribute – Jehovah Jireh, translated “The Lord will provide.” It’s what Abraham called the place where God stayed his hand from slaughtering his own son, and provided a ram for an offering in Isaac’s place. It’s always a hard story when you consider what God asked of Abraham, but what he was really asking for was Abraham’s trust; he required nothing else. God didn’t actually want Isaac as an offering. He only wanted Abraham’s heart. When that was given, God provided.

Likewise, it’s all that he asks of any of us. And when we give him what he asks – our full trust, our whole heart, he provides. We have no need to worry about delayed visas and bomb threats when we trust in the God of all, who will provide.

The news around us warns of a mounting global digital surveillance, which we are voluntarily feeding into through facebook and twitter, freely providing all the information we throw online, in an effort to feel less alone, turning privacy into a subtle footnote of society.
I think the skeptics are genuinely on to something. I am not one to disregard the concern.

But I know where I’m training my focus. I am putting away the worry and learning to look for new things… in people, countries, processes. Trusting in a God who works through  a l l  t h i n g s. And when the worry clouding my mind is gone, I see the joy that our building guard greets us with each morning, how his heart shines with light. I see a construction worker next door taking his lunch on a ledge 8 stories up, drinking down the last drops of his soup before running back to labor for his meager wages. I wonder if he has kids. I see my co-workers unique personalities, those traits that clash with others, and concede they are beautifully made. I see my most talkative, disruptive students as lovers of life.
These are the people that make up our communities, our cities, our governments. We are all battling our own brokenness in an unforgiving world. The remedy is not in fixating on the faults of people, which are inevitable, but in focusing on Him.

And then, there is so much beauty to see….

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