Tuesday, October 7, 2014

faith, works and grace amidst the rice paddies

On Sunday, as we whisked by field after field of ripening Vietnamese rice paddies, rich greens and deep yellows streaming past our windows, Max gave us our Family Home Evening lesson. It was conference weekend.  Back home we would be gathering together to listen to our church leaders on television, “conference cinnamon rolls” rising in the oven.  Instead, we were on our way home from the breathtaking beauty of Ha Long Bay, salt-water crusting up on our bodies under our over-worn clothes, en route to another adventure in Hanoi. 

Sometimes the beauty of the earth, and seeing new parts of it almost feels like church to me.  Those hallowed sheaths of rock jutting out in steep gray cliffs from the bay, sprouting greens to soften their austerity makes me feel, in a way, that God is speaking to me. 

But that day in the van, surrounded by the people I love very most, God spoke to me as well.  And Max brought the message eloquently and beautifully with very little prep time, which filled my heart even more. 

He talked about Faith.  He read the normal definitions from the Bible Dictionary at first.  But I loved the definition he gave from his heart the best:  Faith is something you feel that teaches you what’s right.  He told us that as far as his seminary teacher is concerned, faith is an action not a noun.  And he told us another seminary teacher always paired faith with two other things: “works” and “grace.”  (So grateful for good seminary teachers!)

From there, the discussion swirled into what “works” we are doing or need to be doing, how “grace” has touched different aspects of our lives.  We talked about those three things in conjunction with Max’s college applications he’s working on, this trip to China we are on, how little seeds of faith can grow into so, so much more when we pair them with those keys of works and the grace of God.  We talked about those rice paddy fields we were passing.  How many pieces of rice can come from a single seed.  How little seeds of faith can spread goodness and love.

That’s when the timing happened to be perfect for a quick stop to check out the rice, waving at us from the side of the road.

 (Lucy has this new pose she is determined to do in family pictures...)

How I hope that each of us in this little family of ours can have the strength to be as strong as those little rice seeds.  That we can have enough faith to produce our own seeds of goodness to spread out and grow and become.

Become the people God knows we can be.

That’s what I learned from my boy and my family…and from God in our own session of “conference” on that hot and humid Sunday afternoon surrounded by His beauty in Vietnam.

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