Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day 57

‘How long, O Lord?!’
The Psalms are filled with this recurring refrain.
Job asks the same question over and over.
The souls under the altar in Revelation 6:10 cry out the same plea.
And that has been my cry also.
It’s been 8 long weeks today since Erica went missing and it has indeed been a difficult time for our family.
Not knowing is our natural human condition, but we also crave answers.
Space + Time are the eternal questions. God alone has the answers.
Where + When? Where have we come from? Where is this all going?
Where is Erica?
And now the When? question grows longer and swallows up any Why? for my desire and need to understand.
How many times I’ve cried out, ‘It’s too long already, Father! This is more than enough! It’s unbearable!
Can’t You, won’t You, bring this to some resolution/closure/conclusion already?’
Then I hear myself like that impatient child in the back seat of the family van crying out, ‘Are we there yet?’
And just as I had to be patient with my kids when I was in the driver’s seat, so I must learn patience in the reverse role: I’m the child in the back seat and Abba Father is driving.
And His answer to me is not merely, ‘Just a little while longer!’ but in His Peace: ‘Until.’
My impatience replies, ‘Until? Until the 12th of Never? Will this go on forever?
Is there no closure or resolution? Will we never know what has happened to Erica?’
And my fear + frustration object: ‘This journey is no fun; this doesn’t feel like a family holiday!’
Yet He constantly assures me: ‘Until.’
‘Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away…’ Song of Songs 4:6
‘Until these calamities have passed by…’ Ps 57:1
               in the shadow of your wings I will make my refuge
‘Until the time that his word came to pass… Ps 105:19
               the word of the Lord tested him
When I thought how to understand this, It was too painful for me –
Until I went into the sanctuary of the Lord Ps 73:16-17
… Until I know His Peace + Presence in my own heart.
Closure and resolution must come from within, not dependent on good news from some outside source, when I receive just what I want to hear now.
Like the child in the back seat, I must learn to rest + trust in the Lord: He is in control + He is working even all these things together for good.
He is both the Master Weaver + Driver. Our vehicle is in good Hands. We are not headed into nothingness for never.
In His last days of ministry, Jesus knew His Father was in the driver’s seat and actively forwarding His Kingdom.
Both His Identity + His Destiny were secure in His Father’s Hands.
He had both wings: He knew He was God’s Son + His Father loved Him.
He knew both His Space + Time: His Where + His When.
He had come from God, was going to God and His hour had come to glorify His Father. (John 13:1-3)
I cannot go to all the questions of what I do not know about Erica’s disappearance.
But I can follow Jesus’ lead into His answer: He only He did what He saw His Father do; He only went where + when He saw the Spirit lead. I not only can, but must.
As Peter concluded, ‘Where else can I go? You have the words of eternal life,’ so I have come to believe and know that ‘in Christ’ Erica + our family are secure as His children + have a Father who loves us.
He will not only bring His van + children home safely once again, but in this journey, we are learning to trust Him ‘until…’, as Jesus, who ‘for the joy set before Him… endured.’

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day 52

By the grace of God + the help of His body of believers, the effects of the demon-rat attack have been turned back + undone. The bedroom is healed: dry-walled, painted + a new carpet has replaced the old, moldy one!
Thank you to everyone who has helped us: Harry, James, Mark, Fred + John, Jason, Cory, you've all done a wonderful job! We so appreciate your help at a time when I really wasn't able to take care of this added concern.
And a special Thank you to those who paid for the carpet + its installation! Your generosity has encouraged us deeply.
You have all blessed us immeasurably + we pray the Lord's blessing in turn increase + overflow for all of you + your families.
Now all we need is for Erica to be home with us and enjoy it with us!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Day 49

Day 49 today. If someone had told me on Day 1 we would still be on this journey 7 weeks later, I would have shaken my head in disbelief + dismissed their doom + gloom. However, here we are and Erica is still not.
But we’ve arrived here one day at a time, one step after another by faith, believing He is with us, still leading.
No remarkable miracles along the way, but somehow the fact we are here, still walking, still believing, is a miracle in itself.
The saying goes, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.’ Now I can rephrase this: ‘There by the grace of God I go.’
We’re ‘there’. Together. You + us; we’re still here. Thank You for your company!
There, where we never thought we’d have to, where we never thought we could have, should have or ever once thought even possible. That’s where we have now come. This is a Grand Canyon depth, an Everest height, like I’d never imagined possible. Indeed, without God this is impossible. I don’t know how people go through crises without God in their lives. I’m not talking about having a religious crutch to lean on. Rather, this journey has made me draw on a whole new pair of legs. Mine are still wobbly and,  like Jacob I limp, but my walk is forever changed! 
At times I’ve felt abandoned, like the ‘Footprints’ author.  I then need to trust He is carrying me.
Other times I’ve pleaded for Him to just give us at least a hint, some clue, any  indication of Erica’s whereabouts.
I’ve quoted Scriptures: ‘Ask anything in my Name + I will do it,’ (Jn 16:23)  
‘Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them and you will have them.’ (Mk 11:24)
Even my Father’s Heart faith-favourite: ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened.’ (Matt 7:7)
I’ve punched in what preachers tell me is God’s phone number: Jeremiah 3:3 ‘Call on me + I will answer.’
But the silence has seemed deafening.
I’ve stood at our living room window, looked out into the darkness, believed for her to reappear, and conjured up  faith I can  in my heart to see her walk up the driveway. But I still stand there alone, waiting. 49 days is a long time. Sometimes I simply don’t know what to do and waiting becomes not only enduring 1 day more, but merely the next hour or minute.
Time is now a passing catalyst. Eternity seems turned upside down and inside out at the same time: my perspective is no longer the same.
Trust is my only peace: a simple trust that Erica is with Jesus and He is true to His Word. He has never left nor forsaken her, nor ever will. I must believe He is a loving God of His Word; that is my sole authority.
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming! Our faith rests on this indisputable fact: Jesus rose from the dead!  
And Erica will too one day + so will all who put their faith in Jesus!
And how much more I must believe + receive His resurrection power to live and keep walking today!
I’ve been  like those 2 disciples on their Luke 24 Journey to Emmaus. I know He is with us; I just don’t see Jesus or Erica yet. I can identify with them:  sad, confused, depressed, unaware this was the resurrected Jesus walking with them, opening up the prophetic Scriptures, causing their hearts to burn within.
As I shared previously, Revelation 12 has burned within me: the woman = Erica carried figuratively on the wings of an eagle to a place where she is taken care of. Whether her place is heaven or earth, I don’t know; but as long as there’s no decisive proof Erica is no longer with us here on earth, I must believe her story’s unfinished and so continue.  
But also like those disciples, ‘it is toward evening, the day is far spent.’ We’re tired and need to stop for rest.
Jesus indicated He would go farther; and again like them, my whole body, soul and spirit constrain Him to stay.
He did and at the table, He took the bread, blessed, broke and gave it to them.
‘Then their eyes were opened…’
   just like Job’s when he no longer only heard about God, but now saw Him!
    as Jesus who only did what He saw the Father do.
‘And they knew Him.’ Oh, how I want to know Him, His ways, not just His Hand, but His face in new revelation!
And so He leads + I will follow Him into Day-Step 50:
The breadth of Noah’s ark that saved humanity was 50 cubits (Gen 6:15). God’s love and mercy is much wider.  
Jubilee marked the Jewish calendar’s cycle of 50 years to right injustices and ‘proclaim liberty throughout all the land: each one shall return to his possession and each of you shall return to his family.’ (Lev 25:10)
I claim this for Erica in both spiritual + physical reality.
50 days also followed The Feasts of First Fruits till the fullness of the Feast of Weeks and Harvest.  
In the New Covenant, this parallels the 50 days from Christ’s Resurrection till Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit poured out all His fullness + power in every believer’s heart, witnessing that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but is now seated on the throne of the universe: ruling, reigning, filling earth with His kingdom revelation.
Joy and celebration mark the 50th step in Israel’s journey and it’s time for justice and restoration!
When God’s time is full, Erica will be revealed to us. Her revealing is through Christ’s and that’s our journey.
 I so yearn to see both Him + her. This Sunday evening @630, our family will gather in our home to worship and celebrate Communion together. We are believing Jesus will show up! and so we invite you to also join us as we take this 50th step in Jubilee and beyond.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thank you!

My family + I thank you!
To all of our family, friends + even those of you who don't even know us, but have somehow been touched by Erica's disappearance, please receive our deepest, heartfelt ‘Thank you!’
In the midst of this storm, you have stood with us: loved, comforted, and helped us; cried and cried out with us; encouraged us to keep on keeping on, press forward and not give up! 
You have stood with us and believed that somehow God will work this for good.
Many of you have cooked meals for us that have enabled our family to gather evenings around the same table, so we might be together through this time. They've been so good and after these weeks, I must confess we're spoiled, but it's a blessed kind of spoiled + we are so very full + thankful!
You have continued to pray for Erica's return and our strength through each new day. We would not have been able to come this far without your prayers, encouragement + the Lord’s continued Presence walking us through.
I don't know how anyone could ever go through this without faith in a God who Himself is our faith, hope + love.
This morning, Fred + his son John applied the first coat of paint in our downstairs bedroom to restore what the enemy ‘demon-rat’ meant for evil. Others are doing drywall and someone has graciously offered to purchase + install a new carpet! Thank you!

Today is Day 42 and it's another step of enduring faith: 1 step more than I thought we'd have to take yesterday.
And yet I am encouraged.
42 is the number of stops Israel made in their 40-year wilderness journey before they entered the Promised Land as detailed in Numbers 33.
It is also the number of generations cited in Matthew 1 in Israel’s spiritual journey from Abraham to Jesus Christ.
3 sets of 14 total 42 generations from the promise of Abraham through David and show The Father had not forgotten His people, but faithfully fulfilled His promises through His Messiah Jesus.
We’ve gone through the 40 days’ testing + today our journey continues this next step. Our faith affirms we have ‘crossed over’ in Christ, not just a natural Red Sea or Jordan River, but through the very veil of mystery that once separated + hid us from His revelation.
The New Covenant of Jesus Christ is now His Revelation of His Promises in + through us.
As we continue to follow, I believe the Spirit will also reveal Erica to us + her whereabouts will no longer be a mystery, but a revelation of God’s powerful love in action.

Thank you, Father, for Your precious people who have walked and continue to walk this road together with us:
May your blessing rest on each one to fully discover your ‘how much more!’ love, Presence, Vision + Provision as we simply trust + follow and you open your Way before us.   


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 40

Today marks Day 40 since Erica disappeared.
40 is filled with Biblical significance:
It rained 40 days + nights in Noah’s time; God’s tears overflowed from heaven as earth’s heart broke open.
Abraham began to barter at 40 when he pled for God to spare the righteous and Sodom.
Isaac + Esau were both 40 when they married; Joseph mourned 40 days after Jacob’s death.
Moses’ life spanned 3 40-year segments + he twice spent 40 days on Mt Sinai when he received the law.
Joshua was 40 when he, Caleb + 10 others spied out The Promised Land for 40 days, but then wandered 40 years in the wilderness because of Israel’s unbelief:
a year for each day.
In the times of the Judges, the land rested periodically for 40 years during times of peace.
Goliath challenged Israel’s armies for 40 days:
every morning + evening he bellowed out blasphemies.
The first 3 kings of Israel: Saul, David + Solomon all reigned for 40 years.
Elijah went 40 days in the strength of angel’s food.
Jonah called Nineveh to judgment in 40 days, but the entire city believed, repented + became history’s greatest revival!
Jesus fasted 40 days in the desert + withstood the devil’s temptations: turn bread for stones? worship the enemy? test Father God?
But Jesus rather proclaimed, ‘It is written!’+ defeated the devil here on earth to begin His revolutionary ministry!
40 days speaks of a time of testing to reveal God’s heart + kingdom through His followers here on earth + expose the devil as a defeated liar.
Yesterday - Day 39 saw the enemy strike a low blow. He replayed a déjà vu scene from 3 years ago + sent a ‘demon rat’ to chew a water pipe + flood our ground-floor bedroom. It was like Goliath ranting all over again + I must admit it felt like the last straw as I heard the destroyer’s taunts + viewed the chaos apparent in my house + home.
Can he rob, kill + destroy at will? Rob our goods? Kill my wife? Destroy our home?

But there are times when the enemy believes his own hype, overplays his hand, oversteps his boundaries, exposes himself + becomes victim of his own devices.
This was one of those times.
For the Lord sent angels in the human forms of Michael the Arch-demonslayer, Harry the Plumber, James the Renovator + Sammy his true son in the Faith, Ryan the Fix-it-all Man, Moncef the demon-rat-killer, Mark the Comfort-giver + Don the Testimony of Jesus.
Soon the breach was repaired, the furniture removed, the soaked carpet pulled up and fans began drying out our home.
The wound closed; the bleeding + tears stopped; the healing began.

Later, Amy + I sat sin our living room, our only light focused on The Prodigal Son still secure above the fireplace.
Brian Doerksen’s 'Will You Worship?' rose in my spirit, I answered ‘Yes!’ + ran for refuge into those loving arms of the Father’s embrace.
Enough is enough and Jesus is more than enough!
And suddenly the revelation came to me: Revelation 12!
I ran downstairs for my Bible, opened it + sure enough, the words were just like what I’d heard in my heart!
I felt the Spirit draw His Word off the page, like Arthur’s Excalibur, the sword out of the rock, and put it firmly in my heart and hand:
v13 the dragon persecuted the woman: now I knew this bad guy is the devil + I also knew he was fighting against Christ’s church, for a ‘woman’ in Scripture always symbolizes the Church; but I began to see in a new sense that the woman for me here is ‘Erica’.
v14 and she was given 2 wings of a great eagle: now you who know us can get really excited with me here, because that’s the heart of our message: ‘Our Identity in Christ’ = who we are with both wings in His Word + Spirit! + how this revelation releases us into Destiny!
that she might fly into the wilderness to her place: this spoke to me that the Lord has plucked Erica out of the enemy’s hands + He Himself is watching over her in ‘her place’ – she is not under the enemy’s control!
where she is nourished = God has been taking care of Erica;
for a time + times + half a time = 3 ½ = half of 7 = God’s fullness = a time of testing + preparation, basically parallel to 40 days
from the face of the serpent = the devil’s intentions are undone here + it’s ‘in his face.’
v15 so the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood = literally our basement flood, but also empty words of fear + torment = all he’s got left
after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood = satan tried to drown + destroy Erica, our home + family, but his purposes have been undone at The Cross, Resurrection + Throne of Jesus!
somehow like Enoch or Elijah? I believe Erica has been rescued from the mouth of the dragon-destroyer!
v16 and the earth helped the woman + opened up its mouth + swallowed up the flood. = the world will suck up the words, taunts, lies, accusations, condemnations the enemy intends against Christ’s Church + drink in its own destruction
But you will know the truth + the truth will set you free!
Job lost everything he had in this world in the space of a few hours, yet he worshiped God.

He did not serve God for mere things, his own prosperity, motives or ends.
Peter replied to Jesus, ‘Where shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life!’
God has given me a Sword of the Spirit + I must use it in all the strength He gives me to bring down those present-day goliaths that have no right to steal, flood + paralyze Christ’s Bride with fear.
The 40 days are done; the time of testing is completed. Time now for us to stand + having done all, stand + see the enemy’s goliaths fall + his captives released.
I am resolved: it’s time for the 100th sheep to be found, prodigals to be released,

+ ‘Erica, you can now come home, dear!’

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 34

Day 34
Yesterday was quite the day in our home: the weather was dreary – rain, a truly November BC downpour! 
We had approached the Abbotsford Police Department about how we might generate greater public awareness of Erica's disappearance, especially since it’s now been over a month and her trail has again gone cold.
So our detective set up a press conference and invited all the Lower Mainland media: TV, radio and newspapers to gather at our house to both recap what has happened during this month and keep her face and story in the public eye.
The police originally intended to stage the event on our front doorstep, but because it was raining so hard, we had to move everybody inside to our living room.
11am: police cruisers + media vehicles lined our street outside + inside our usually quiet front room suddenly filled with a buzz of activity: 3 massive TV cameras, a microphone stand with all sorts of mics advertising station logos (just like you see on the real news!), and a dozen reporters, all under a powerful arc-lamp flooding the whole room.
Our family stepped up to the mics: Michael recapped the month’s details;
Amy thanked everyone: the police, Search + Rescue + all who have prayed, volunteered their time, gifts + help for us in so many ways – posting flyers, cooking meals, encouraging words + actions.
Sophia appealed to anyone who might have sighted our Mom to please contact the police and then directly + emotionally spoke to her mom, if somehow she might even be watching, to please come home! I followed by summing up how much we all miss Erica and want her home with us soon.
We need our family back together again: my wife, their mom + Grandma!
All this took place against the backdrop of a print of Rembrandt’s  ‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ directly behind us, above the fireplace, highlighted in the glare of the extra lighting. The reproduction had been my 65th birthday present from the family only last spring. Erica had wanted to buy me a dishwasher (Imagine, a dishwasher for my 65th?!  – so utilitarian!... but she did get her dishwasher later anyway!)  While setting up, the press had decided on this as their desired perspective and so this painting + its message was constantly on view during the entire event!
Little did we realize how the Lord would use this painting in our living room to bring out His heart.
The Father is drawing prodigals home! Those who have lost everything the world has to offer, spent their lives and come up empty, come to the end of themselves + simply need to know they have a Father who loves them! 
Amy especially took the opportunity and drew the parallel between the prodigal of the painting coming home + her mom + called Erica home right on the newscast!
Our home has previously been a House Church and we’ve had lots of meetings about the Father’s Heart, but never before had this pertinent message had such a public opportunity + potentially vast audience! 
We also got to tell Erica’s story: how she’s taken on being part of the solution for pain in our world today, helping bring healing in Africa to the UJV - Uganda Jesus Village: former orphan/victim/child soldiers from Kony’s rebel army, but now sons + daughters in Christ’s. In each of the last 4 years, she has spearheaded packing up to 15 suitcases of everything from underwear to school supplies for these needy kids. This year, she’s already packed 3 suitcases for a trip we’re planning for January.
So, in the midst of our pain, the message came through, the media picked it up + God is using all this to get His message out His Way. 
Jesus-followers have vision beyond bad news, despair, or even ourselves.
As if in confirmation, the police testified they’ve not seen such an overwhelming outpouring to a missing person case in all their collective years of service!
The Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, always turns prodigal hearts home to the Father’s embrace!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 30

My family + I want to Thank You all for continuing to stand + walk with us through this unexpected journey.You have been such a blessing to us in so many ways: praying, cooking wonderful meals, visiting, writing cards + notes of encouragement, continuing to post flyers and look for Erica throughout our city. Indeed, her picture is all over this city, but where is our Erica?
Today’s Sunday, Day 30: almost a full month since she disappeared and discouragement rears its ugly head.
Indeed, we have no leads/clues/signs that point to her whereabouts. The police have said the trail has gone cold.
At times our trail/walk/journey here on earth seems to likewise grow cold.
Like those two downcast disciples on the Emmaus road that Resurrection day, nothing makes sense. They had bits of information, but the dots didn’t connect.
But it seems right now we don’t even have any dots!
So we must walk through this darkness, this absence of light, by faith.
Faith that trusts God, the evidence of things not seen. Trusts the One who made the world out of nothing to bring sense out of no sense. When nature and its ‘facts’ or lack of them say it’s impossible, Our God: the God with whom all things are possible, speaks and acts! Someone told me at the beginning of this journey that it would come to where it was impossible for man, so impossible in the world’s view that only God could bring His Possible out of our impossible! Nothing is impossible for Our God! Jesus has risen from the dead: this is history’s greatest fact and Good News!
+ regardless of how hopeless our life/seemingly hopeless situations/ my wife’s disappearance may appear, believers rejoice in the truth of Christ’s Resurrection and have hope in this life + beyond.
We may feel: DIS-couraged, DIS-tressed, our vision has DIS-appeared + we are DISappointed, but we cannot let the enemy 'DIS' us.
Let the Blood + Love of Jesus wash + break off the 'DIS'es:
we're not dis-qualified, but qualified, not dis-approved, but approved because He is ever faithful who has called us. His faith + love remove the ‘dis’ from our temporary dis-appointments; so we are ready for His Appointment!
In the middle of last night, I received a phone call. I clumsily reached for the phone in the dark, somehow managed to turn it on, only to hear our friends’ voice from Nigeria. From the heart of the African jungle came this cry: ‘Pastor Henry, the church here is praying for Erica to come home!’
And then I heard singing in the background; it grew louder, with drums:
our brothers + sisters lifting us up in prayer, praising God + worshiping as only Africans are able: turning sorrow into rejoicing!
I joined with the heavenly choir here on earth + immediately felt the ‘dis’ break off my previous dis-couragement. I was en-couraged!
Then after I’d slept a while longer, I woke up to read Hebrews
10:32 recall the former days in which after you were illuminated, you endured a
          great struggle with sufferings…
     35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
     36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God,

          you may receive the promise:
     37 ‘For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
     38  Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.’
     39  But we are not the kind who shrink back and are destroyed; on the contrary,

          we keep trusting + preserve life!
Please: Be Encouraged! Our God is on the throne of the universe, He is with us + with Erica also + she is with Him. Whether on earth still or in heaven, I don’t know, but let’s join the African heavenly choir + let her dis-appearance be His opportunity for the Lord Jesus' appearance to + through us all!