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Leaning, Loss, and Love

I believe that it is human nature to lean on things.

Think about it.  Your legs get tired.  Your body feels heavy.  You are prone to lean on whatever the nearest object is, be it a pole or a chair.  You shift your weight from foot to foot and can consider it a joy when you find another person to lean on—to feel the heartbeat of another as your weary soul searches for rest. 

Death is one of those situations that always exposes the vulnerable state of the human condition, creating in us a desire to lean.  On Monday our team was invited to a funeral of someone we barely knew.  The day before we found ourselves praying and singing over this woman on what, in hindsight, was her deathbed.  This is not a usual occurrence for lay people in the United States, but in Cambodia, it’s the second time we have experienced something like this.  However, I guess we’re not exactly lay people here.

The ceremony is rather ornate.  Everyone wears white.  Music is playing all day long.  A large, colorful tower is erected in a matter of hours as a place to cremate the body.  Fireworks are lit into the sky and everyone who knew the person comes.  But this lady was poor.  The people at her funeral were few.  Among the Cambodian mourners were nine foreigners that happened to be invited due to a petty short encounter with this woman.

Two other women who were related to this woman (they may have been her daughters) found us foreigners and leaned on us.  They were present the day before when we prayed and sang.  I believe they felt the love of God in us.  The first woman, who was crying with intense desperation, found Casey.  She fell into her arms sobbing.  Casey held her and prayed that her arms would be like the arms of Jesus.  She said she felt their hearts beat in sync.  As Lacey rubbed her back, the woman’s tears began to slow and eventually she stopped crying.  Her demeanor was different.  In the midst of all this pain, I could tell that there was a new peace and a gratefulness for Casey and Lacey.  Their presence was a gift to this woman.

The second woman found Marylou.  After the family’s final goodbye, the woman was left weeping.  She made eye contact with LouLou and they embraced.  I saw their silhouettes entangled in the darkness about fifteen yards in front of me, Marylou holding this broken soul.  Kate came and offered her gentle touch to this woman.  It only lasted for ten minutes, but its impact far outreaches its allotted time.

When we prayed on Sunday, my prayers were filled with a desire for the Lord to be glorified.  When I saw my teammates being the hands of Jesus, I believe he was glorified.  Let’s face it.  As foreigners, we stick out like a sore thumb.  But this is a benefit when it comes to the love of Christ, because when Jesus is magnified in us, he sticks out.  When others want to lean into the light, I hope that we can be near enough to help them evade the darkness–that just as Christ loves, we can love one the poor, the afflicted, and the brokenhearted.  By this, all people will know that we are his disciples.  Whoever loves has been born of God and knows God because God is love (1 John 4:8).

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