It is finished.
At least for now, this part of our journey to and from the Dominican Republic has come to a close. Now begins the processes of piecing it all together— both the project and ourselves.
I’m over whelmed.
I don’t mean to sound all “hyper-holy” but honestly, I always return feeling hushed and introspective. My heart is heavier afterward with the weight of a new knowledge and understanding for a new place and people and burdens I know only God can handle. No matter what project is involved, every mission alters my course in ways that continue to unfold for weeks and months to come. Each time, the landscape of my heart changes and will never be the same again.
I think it’s the way it’s supposed to be.
So, I have a confession: Once upon a time… I was THAT short-term missionary.
Earnestly, I went believing I had what the world needs most and my job was to go and bring some Jesus to those poor, lost people who had none. I won’t belabor this point, but I recall some pretty awkward moments culminating in one huge rude awakening.
Truthfully? I’ve never brought Jesus anywhere; He’s always met me wherever I was sent. My role then there and here now is simply to do my best to be Christlike.
Which is never as easy as it seems.
Honestly, these trips have done more to open my eyes and change me with the Gospel I profess, than I first imagined. Maybe because I have to cling so much harder to what I know that I know that I know— far more difficult to do outside your own rhythm, routine and comfort zone. #Truestory
Using these off-kilter places, God impresses new marks on my heart. The fresh and beauty-full moments add color and texture and the more difficult ones apply setting heat to harden them and deepen my character and personality…for His glory— I pray. He uses it all: the people, places, faces, laughter and tears, where shared meals and difficulties become the holiest of communions along the way.
Scripture leaves record of some of these types of moments— just enough to glimpse the Body of Christ living then from day to day. Life surely wasn’t all fishes and loaves and walking on water. There were bone-wearying storms, uncertainties, frustrations and taxes to pay. There were arguments over who would sit where and who would be serving whom.
Sometimes, I like to think that Jesus’ parables sprung out of these moments. Perhaps, in those quieter times while seated around a table or fireside, Jesus might’ve thought, “Now is a good time to talk about…” He’d seize that teachable moment, guiding those disciples then— and us now— through the maze and mess we can make of our lives and relationships.
Because they were just human beings—a bunch of guys on the adventure of their lifetime traveling around with— and for, Jesus. I bet they bickered. Felt selfish and self-centered. They surely got ornery and tired and occasionally made each other miserable. Maybe they asked one time too many, “Are we there yet?” Maybe.
They asked stupid questions, gave stupid answers all while simply doing their best to follow, serve and walk with the Jesus they had right there in their midst. Glory. He should’ve fired them! Instead, He loved them all the more. Forgave them. Told them some parable stories and sent them to bed.
He knew them. He knows us. Jesus knows how joy may come in the morning but Lawd, help us make it through the night! He knows how sometimes, the Mean… just gets “all up over you.” Even….and especially when you are trying your hardest to keep it together.
Like that time … I was writing a Bible study on the Fruit of the Spirit. In the middle of it all, hubby got sick and went down taking my day’s plans with him. I found myself manning the carpool that night while my “puking-unto-death” spouse took himself to the doctor. I was agitated, highly distracted and the traffic was unusually nerve-wracking.
Headed home, (full of “fruit” mind you) I’m behind a vehicle sitting through, not one… two, but FIVE green lights. Seriously!?? So I did what any spirit-filled, FruitFULL Christian would do: I laid on that horn like a lunatic. Did I get out of the car to assist? Um….no. (In fairness— it was night-time… but still.) Then, out steps the frailest, shakiest, most confused and panicky older gentleman…. He’s near tears. And now, so am I. He stutters some apology, his son is on the way and me, I’m just wanting to Die. Of. Shame.
Jesus had to love me harder then.
Then, oh a few months back, after a particularly stressful “wedding thing” I did… a gas station clerk was flat out rude and I found myself “thanking-her-so-very-much“ saying “God bless you!” in a tone we both knew really meant “Go to heck in a hand basket!”.
Yah. Cuz …I’m beautiful like that.
Sweet Jesus…have mercy on me, a sinner.
Thankfully, He does.
All to say— what I’ve learned to be the single-most important thing I need as I go… or stay.. anywhere really, is GRACE. Pack extra— I’m gonna need it. Sometimes I’ll be doling out heaping helpings to another but most likely, I’ll be slathering it on thickly myself.
Vividly, I remember my very first International mission trip. Remember how,standing at the edge of a cornfield before the gathered congregation, I sang with all my heart, “I Surrender All”. I meant it.
Now I know that the “All” I surrendered then was simply the “All” I understood at that point. Since then, God has given me more “All” to surrender and I highly suspect there will always be more to come.
Recently, I was asked: “Did you give up anything for Lent?”
Yeah.. I suppose I did.
I just… gave up.
Surrendering this new understanding of All… once again.
It’s where I suppose I’ll continue to end and where hopefully, Jesus through me… beside and before me — can always begin in me .. anew.
linking what I’ve learned with Emily.