Making compassion (and prayer) personal and the faithfulness of God

Three years ago yesterday I blogged about the 284 Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. I was challenged by the way we often respond/react to things when they touch our own lives directly but find it harder to show compassion for situations that we can’t relate to.

And I was moved and inspired by another blogger’s idea to choose one of the kidnapped girls and pray for her by name. I chose Mairama Yahaya. I have tried to remember her and pray for her as often as I can, but it has been three long and busy years. I have not been as faithful in my prayers as I would have liked to be.

Yesterday, the Nigerian government released the names of 82 girls who have been freed. Mairama’s name is number 10 on the list. God has been faithful in remembering her. He has heard and answered the prayers of her family, friends, and strangers around the world. I am overwhelmed by his faithfulness.

But three years is a long time. My prayers for Mairama must continue as she walks the difficult road ahead of her, as she recovers and re-enters and is reunited with a life she likely thought gone forever.

Mairama doesn’t know me, although I trust we will meet one day when all things are made new, but she has taught me much about God’s compassion and faithfulness, and the challenge they are to my own apathy and faithlessness.

And as I look around at all that is happening in the world today, in Syria, in Yemen, in South Sudan, and in many other places, I am again challenged to consider how I can overcome the apathy and selfishness of my own culture, and find ways to connect to people who are not like me and yet are just like me.

My God is a big and faithful God. Three years from today, who knows what influence our prayers (and actions) might have had in the lives of people who desperately need our compassion if we will start today?

Today would be a good day to be in Lisbon

My blogging frequency has slowed a bit recently, but after a couple of prompts to get back into it, I’m heading into another Monday morning with a place I’d love to be able to visit for the day. After discovering some authentic Portuguese custard tarts in Adelaide this weekend,  I’d love to go back to the place where I discovered these delectable treats … and just enjoyed the vibe of a really cool city for a few days.

What did I love about Lisbon?

While Lisbon might not have some of the “big ticket” tourist items of other places in Europe, it was one of my favourite stops on my recent trip. It’s just a lovely city to wander and get lost in.

Apparently the world’s third hilliest city (after La Paz and San Francisco), Lisbon’s geography makes for good exercise as well as great panoramic views.

Navigating the hills has led to some innovative methods of public transport including the beautiful Santa Justa elevator …

… and the cool Gloria funicular.

The city’s coloured buildings and tiled facades add to the funky vibe.

The city’s architecture testifies to the passage of time, like the intricate details on the facades of the gothic Jerónimos monastery.

While walking the walls of the São Jorge Castle is like stepping back into medieval times.

Contrasting this is the brand new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology built on the bank of the Tagus River with a roof made for walking, gathering and people watching.

And of course, discovering the Pastel de Nata was a true joy …

… and has made me disavow the custard tarts of my homeland as unworthy to share the same name!

What did I learn from Lisbon?

Lisbon is also a ‘city of churches’, with plenty of old, beautiful, and quirky places of worship to visit.

The Sé, Lisbon’s Cathedral, is nearly 900 years old and I found myself sitting in its pews just trying to imagine all those who had preceded me in taking time out in this same space to pray and worship.

Excavations in the church’s cloisters point back even further, to Roman times. If only walls could speak …

Lisbon is a city that speaks to me of everyday lives. Of people who have made their way and made their mark. Of fun and family and fortitude and fortune and food and faith – all the things that make up a life and together make up history.

And as I sat in Lisbon’s main square on the final night of my visit, I marvelled at the combination of the setting sun and the statue of the Risen Son, watching over the city. And I remember that wherever I go, as I make my way through the everyday things of life, as the passage of time happens to me too, this is what keeps me centred. The dawning of each new day bringing God’s mercies anew, and the reality of an Easter Sunday dawning that is making all things new.

 

Gethsemane

Thinking Out Loud ...

“Stay here while I go over there and pray.”

20140418-121140.jpg“This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”

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“My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”

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“Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour? Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger.”

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“There is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything with God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.”

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“My Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.”

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“My time is up, the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the hands of sinners. Get up! Let’s get going! My betrayer…

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