Saturday, July 30, 2011

If/Then theology vs a really bad week.

It seems lately all I do is complain. Well, I am good at complaining I suppose, but I should probably cut back some.

But I guess this week, or maybe even month, has been giving me lots of little things to complain about. And all those little things built up to what seems mountain-like proportions. And THEN decided to come crashing down in a fashion similar to an avalanche.

Did I mention I also like to exaggerate? (esp when complaining...)

All of this stuff piling up gets me to thinking...

And thinking is dangerous.

Because I immediately start in with what I have labeled If/Then theology. If I do this, then God does that. If I don't do that, then God does this. Because I did that, God allowed this to happen...

Now, I know there are cases when God responds like that. Jonah doesn't follow God's command. There is a huge storm. This is Jonah's fault. David commits adultery and then has a man killed. God takes away his son. Entire cities are dens of vice and violence and God takes them out.

God does and can react to what we do. We pray, and God performs miracles. Waters part, walls fall down, sicknesses cured, the dead walk again.

But sometimes we pray, and God doesn't answer. Sometimes we live righteous lives and God allows disaster to befall us. (poor Job...) Sometimes we do all the right things, and everything God commands us, and life still sucks. (Jeremiah anyone?)

There is no hard and fast rule for when God is doing something in direct response to what we have or have not done, and when He is acting out something that we can't possibly understand yet for reasons that have nothing to do with what we are doing or not doing.

That's where things get hard.

I want God to make sense. I want an easy to follow formula. If I do this, God does that. It's easy. I know when I mess up, there is a punishment. I know that if something bad happens, it must mean I'm not doing everything I should. Maybe there is some unconfessed sin... Maybe I'm not praying the right way... Maybe I just don't love God enough...

And that's such a dangerous way to think.

That makes our faith dependent upon our works and our circumstances.

Life doesn't work that way.

God doesn't work that way.

So I have to remember that I can't work my way to salvation. It's not all about me and what I've done or am doing. When things get difficult, that doesn't always mean God is mad at me.

And no sooner did I come to that conclusion before I was tested.

Man, I should be careful what I think.

Last Wed. was the last day of classes before summer break. It went well, and Wed night I started packing for the kids church camp we were having the next two days. (late night plus early morning equals a not so enthusiastic Amber, even though the majority of the kids were my English students and I normally love camp.) Well it was a rough month.

My roommate asked me how she could pray for the camp, and it caught me off guard, because I hadn't given it much thought. I wasn't involved or invested so much in the planning, so I guess I forgot I should have been praying for it. I gave her what I could think of at the time and she returned to her room to include me and the camp in her prayers.

Next morning, bright and early, I manage to wake up on time and catch all the right trains and get to the station where I was meeting the rest of the group (because I live so far away, I met them part way.) It was perfect timing with their train pulling up just as I got to the platform.

We rode the trains north to an area called Nikko famous for it's beauty. In the mountains, there is a wonderful Christian camp compound that we stayed at.

We were a bit worried about the weather, but the rain cleared up right about the time we arrived.

So far, so good.

Get to the camp (we even were picked up by car from the station!) and we settle in, eat our lunches and gather together for some group time. After group time was scheduled for "water play" time. There is a near by river, and if that is not safe, then the campsite has a fountain that can be turned on.

Right as the group time ended, and we are supposed to start getting ready for "water play" time, the thunder rolls. Seriously, we said Amen, and Heaven answered.

Now I'm from West Texas. Basically our only source of rain is Thunder storms. They are quite beautiful. But they are dangerous. Growing up in a very flat land, I grew up understanding that you NEVER go outside in a thunderstorm. You NEVER go near water, and you stay away from trees. Because it's so flat, all these things attract the lightening. Heck, we never carried umbrella's because there was metal that might attract lightening. Everything was grounded, and you made sure to put on your rubber soled tennis shoes. I loved watching lighting storms... from inside. (actually, you weren't supposed to go near the windows either...)

So coming to Japan was a bit of a culture shock for me when it came to thunderstorms. First was Japanese thunderstorms are short. Like 30 mins and then they are over. Second, no one actually stops what they are doing because of a thunder storm. People are walking around outside carrying metal umbrellas, going on about their business. It freaked me out the first time I had to walk home in a thunderstorm. Even now it makes me very uneasy to be outside in a Thunderstorm. This is deeply ingrained in me.

So it's "water play" time and we have just been greeted by the rolling of thunder. What do we do? Change into our swimsuits of course. And go down to the river. (actually we went up and then down.) And while it was raining, we played in the river. (it was really cold.) Then it starts to really pour, so we decide to just wait it out there before heading back to the camp. And I'm just freaking out inside because this goes against all thunderstorm safety things I've known since I was a child. Here I am outside, in a thunderstorm, in a river, under a tree.


But we made it fine. The rain eventually lessened, we go back to the camp, and they turn on the fountain for some more "water play." Then we can go warm up in the hot spring. I was happy to go to the hot spring.

Then we had some free time before another round of group activities. I rested a bit in my room since I was low on sleep and energy. Group time comes around and we sing and then play a game. It was a "Fruits Basket" type game where we have the chairs in the circle and if a statement applies to you, you rush to get a new chair.

I survived the rocky river, the muddy, steep bank and the thunderstorm. Who would guess Fruits Basket would be my downfall?

The condition was "people who have glasses." I get up, and in my rush to get a chair, I run into the guy next to me. I'm slightly off balance and step on my foot wrong. I feel a slight "pop" and then lot's of pain. I make my way to the next chair, and check my foot. I have weak ankles, so I expected a sprain. I am used to sprains, so I didn't think it would be a big deal. Only it wasn't my ankle. My foot was hurt somehow. I thought it was a strange place to get a sprain, but thought maybe the pain would lesson up like sprains normally do.

The next condition was "people who are wearing underwear." I didn't move because of my foot. I got a few strange looks for that one. Hehe. I did tell the person next to me that I hurt my foot and couldn't move. I just sat with my foot up for the rest of the game. After the game it was time for dinner, but I found I couldn't put a lot of weight on it. So I had to have people help me to the place where we were eating and I propped up my foot with some ice.

After dinner and fireworks and campfire (done inside because of the rain) it was finally time to go to bed. Only now I had to try to climb some stairs. I had two guys helping me, but as I'm a large person, I feel really bad about that. I eventually convinced them to let me crawl up the stairs.

I said a quick prayer, propped up the foot with some more ice and went to bed, hoping the pain would be gone in the morning.

At 2:00 I awoke to the call of nature. I tested the foot and found it hadn't changed. It was in fact more painful. It took me like 30 mins to go to the bathroom that was like 10 feet away. I decided then that I would have to go see a doctor in the morning.

1 car ride, two trains, three wheel chairs, two taxis and 3 doctors later I discovered I have a Jones fracture. This could take up to 5 months or longer to heal. Wonderful. I'm scheduled to attempt to leave the country in two days.

Cut off at the pass again.

I'm told this is a fairly common sports injury. I guess it's something soccer players get a lot.

I got a "sports injury" from playing Fruits Basket. I feel really uncool somehow.

The first part of the day was rather painful, but as soon as I got the foot in a splint (which I had to ask for, Japanese medicine disturbs me sometimes.) I felt much better. I now have crutches and am allowed to put weight on my heel. Half a day of crutches has left me with bruises under my arms and blisters on my hands. Whoo, hoo. Only 5 more months to go.

Anyway, after lots of worrying about whether I would be able to fly home or not, I finally decided that I would try gambling on getting a flight anyway. I have a friend who is going to drive me to the airport (about 2 hours) and once there I should be able to find help with my suitcase.

Tomorrow is packing and getting ready.

All kinds of adventure awaits.

And I'm sure there will be plenty of quiet time to process with God while I'm waiting at the airport with my "acutely fractured" foot, trying to figure out what the next few weeks will look like.

On the up side, I have concrete proof of how awesome my roommates and friends are now. One roommate met me at the station, rode with me to one hospital and one clinic and carried all my stuff brought back from camp. I have been blessed with many people who went out of their way to help me. And my National Japanese Health insurance kept all the visits reasonable. The trains and taxi actually cost more than the doctors.

Prayers for clean healing of my fracture are appreciated. If it doesn't heal properly, it can become a chronic condition. Living so far from a station, and not having a car would make a chronic foot condition very unhelpful.

Next post will either be a (hopefully) triumphant post from my parent's house, or another cut off at the pass post after several days at the airport with no available flights.

Let's hope for the first one. :-D

(on a side note, I told my wonderful roommate jokingly {after she had been lugging around my stuff and helping me right and left} that I'm not sure I'll let her pray for my next camp. {I go back to the same place at the end of August for Church camp} She replied back, "Just imagine what would have happened if I hadn't prayed!" I love having roommates with a good sense of humor.)

1 comment:

Katy said...

Aw, I'm so sorry about you poorly-timed injury! Hoping/Praying it heals up fast and doesn't get in the way of your trip. God bless, Amber! :)