I’ve come to this page several times, wanting desperately to write, but coming up emtpy. I express my heart best through writing, yet sometimes my heart is so full that it takes awhile for the words to sort themselves out and come to the surface.
We’ve been home from South Africa for about a week now, and with the exception of the jet lagged days, I’ve spent just about every waking minute processing our experiences, evaluating my heart, and talking with God about it all. The trip was everything I expected, and nothing I expected. It was exhilarating, and heartbreaking. It was comforting, and unsettling.
How do you spend 42 hours total in the air, crossing a massive ocean twice, and not feel tiny and insignificant? How do you look down from 38,000 feet and not worship the God Who made the universe? How do you not let tears run down your face in awe of the care He takes of you and the protection He gives? How do you sit on a plane with hundreds of other people and not wonder if you and your husband are the only believers on it?
How do you cease to be amazed at how big the world is from the perspective of a traveler, and yet how small it is from the perspective of a believer? How do you not marvel at finding gracious hospitality halfway through your journey, and realizing that God has ordained rest instead of sightseeing?
How do you stop gasping in awe at the spectacular landscape that is hidden away at the bottom of a continent? How do you stop snapping pictures of the same thing over and over because it’s just that beautiful?
How do you see the destitute, the abused and neglected, the dirty, the broken, the hungry, the sick and infected, the hurting, and not be changed forever? How do you see the poorest of the poor and not be moved to tears when they lift their voices in unwavering praise to God? How do you respond when they tell you how rich and blessed they are? How do you return to first world after seeing third world? How do you not feel disgusted with the American dream?
How do you spend time with God’s servants across the world and not come away incredibly blessed and a step farther in your own healing process? How do you not cry and hold them tight when it’s time to say goodbye? How do you not wish for these people to be the ones you do life and ministry with? How do you smother the ache that remains when you walk away from people who seem like family even though you’ve only spent two weeks with them? How do you not see that God is doing something so very special there?
How do you get back the part of your heart that you left in that land?
These questions and many more are coursing through my heart as I process all that God allowed us to see and do and hear and taste and smell. I’ll be sharing more in the future as my heart and God’s will gives the freedom to do so. Meanwhile, although these questions linger, there is one thing my husband and I both know- we are not the same people who left American soil three weeks ago. As much as we were already longing for something other than the American dream before we even left, we came back with the longing turned to insatiable desire.
Remember the question I asked before we left about why we were taking the trip? I shared how when it comes to we pastors’ wives, a love for ministry is not enough…We must be passionate about the Gospel in our every day life. I’ve been asking God to open my eyes even wider to this, and to make the Gospel more precious to me. He is doing this continually in my heart, and seeing the Gospel alive and at work in practical ways across the world brought so much joy to me! It’s more than a sermon- it’s the coming alongside to mentor and encourage. It’s a step farther than a “praying for you” statement- it’s the sacrificial giving and brainstorming a way to help. It’s more than an agenda full of activities- it’s worshiping together, enjoying each other, and resting intentionally. It’s not about having a large church or a beautiful building-
It’s choosing to build relationships over assembling brick and stone.
It’s not about competition and who gets to shine- it’s the freedom of creative teamwork and helping each other with ideas to use individual talents for the sake of the Gospel.
When you’ve just been to a place where the Gospel is woven into the very fabric of the missionaries’ lives, how can you not know that it is everything you ever wanted in ministry?
How can you not come back loving the Gospel and the Christ of the Gospel even more fiercely than you knew was possible?
A Kindred Spirit