Friday, June 26, 2009

Not What I Expected From This Trip

The title of this post says it all. We leave tomorrow to come back home. We left a week ago today for what was to be my family's first missions trip. I had alot of expectations. I had an agenda. It was MY agenda. How many of you can attest to the fact that your agenda hardly ever happens on trips like this one? My last post had a funny spin to it, but all kidding aside, the events of that Sunday will forever be ingrained in my heart and mind.

I left the U.S. thinking that I was going to get to Guatemala and love and minister to the people there- to show them the love of God. We did that to the best of our ability, I believe. But God had another plan. One that included doing a work on the inside of me. Actually, starting a work in my heart. I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I struggle with grace-- giving and receiving it. I have high expectations of myself and that bleeds into high expectations of others. That can wreak havoc on relationships. Not just earthly ones, but my relationship with my Saviour. I struggle with having to have it all together before I can go to God. Now, I know in my head that goes against the Bible and everything I have learned about the character of God. But that is just the truth of my struggles. What I am about to write is going to be hard for me to admit, but I feel it is necessary.

God's agenda was to show me how little I love people. I mean actually LOVE people. It is one thing to say "I love you" to someone. It is another thing to DO IT. We met with a very wise missionary today. (I will have to share the story of how our pathes crossed at another time, but it was truly God-ordained.) In talking with him, God began to show me that I needed to re-evaluate my life as a Christian. He began to show me that I am somewhat of a Pharisee. Actually, He began to show me this earlier in the trip than today, but today just sealed the deal, if you will. As I watched the children of Pueblo Nuevo and their families earlier this week, I realized that they were easy to fall in love with. You see, they have very little, yet they have so much. That may sound a bit clicheish (my made-up word), but it is the truth. The children loved each other. They watched out for each other. They were giving to each other. They even tried to give their things to my children. The families had such a strong sense of community. What was not to love?

Then God began to speak to my heart. He reminded me that it is easy to love people like these people. But then He reminded me that I can't just love people that it is easy to love. He began to remind me of the harshness I sometimes judge others with. He began to remind me of verses in James about extending mercy and grace and love to everyone... not just those who 'deserve' it. Because in actuality, grace and mercy only need to be extended to people because they have done something that warrants it. Not to perfect people. Let's face it (here comes another cliche), there are no perfect people! Therefore, logic suggests that we should be showing grace and mercy to eveyone that is breathing. Then, a situation happened where I had an opportunity to either get angry or show that love and mercy, and yet again, I failed miserably. But this time, instead of condeming myself, I just repented and asked Him to help me react differently next time. He tenderly (once I calmed down) reminded me that I "don't sin by letting anger contol me" Ephesians 4:26 and I "must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls. But don't just listen to God's words. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don't obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. If you claim to be righteous but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." James 1:19-26

Then, as we sat talking with this missionary, he began to share some of his struggles. How many of you reading this know that one of the biggest lies we can believe is that 'I am the only one that struggles with this or that. I am the only one that feels this way. I am the only one that reacts this way.'? Well, I tend to fall for this one hook, line and sinker. As we talked, I began to see that he struggles with the same things I do. I am not alone in this. He made the comment that he believes there are 2 types of people- ones that are totally in love with Jesus and ones that aren't.

Here is where this gets hard for me to write. I fall into the group that is not. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Jesus. But, I am not totally IN love with Him. I have allowed the cares of this world, the things of this world, bitterness, unforgivness, and other things to come between me and my Saviour. At first, I got offended by this thought. I couldn't even admit it to myself. I did not want the light of His Spirit to shine on that closed up part of the deepest part of my heart. But let's fact it, you can't change until you admit what needs to be changed.

I. Am. Ready. To. Change. I am ready to fall in love with Him all over again. In order to do this, I have to lay aside EVERYTHING else. In my realtionship with my husband, we sometimes have realize that we have allowed life to happen to us... to let the every day mundane things we have do, to wedge between us, we have to stop and regroup. We have to begin to get rid of everything that is absolutely not necessary and begin to spend time together. That is what I have to do when I get back home. I must begin to rid my life of the things that have wedged between me and my God. I must fall in love with Him- not just love him. There is a big difference between the two.

Another thing that we talked about, was putting on this front and hiding things about us because if others see that in me or know I struggle with this or have this burden, they may not like me. Instead, we must do as the Word of God says and 'bear one another's burdens'. We cannot do this for each other if we judge one another. It is time for us to get real and stay real and live real. I don't want to be a Pharisee anymore. I want to be a disciple. I want to love people. I want to, as Tom Davis says in the book Red Letters, live the red letters of the Bible. I MUST begin to live this way. In the past, I have tried to do this on my own, only to fail and end up having to write a post like this one. This time, I am going to do it His way.

So, as you can see, He had a different agenda. One that has been hard to accept and hard to admit. But one that I know is going to be life changing for me. So, I am returning home and returning to the basic "Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, sould, mind and strength and love your neighbor as thyself." Instead of it just being a Bible verse I learned in Christian school, it will become something I strive, through Him, to LIVE daily.


  1. Okay I'm a total ding-dong b/c I didn't even THINK to check your blog during the trip. I've just been looking at FB (the pictures are amazing BTW).

    This trip most certainly has had a profound impact on you. I'm so proud of you for following God's call - and allowing him to stretch you. So many of us are unable/unwilling (hi, me!) to submit to that stretching without a big, fat pity party. You are humbly examining yourself in this post - and it's humbling me to read your convictions.

    I can't wait to talk to you when you get home - to hear more about the trip. Now I'm going to scroll down and read the other posts! DUH! (I still can't believe I didn't check the blog until today!)

  2. Amen, friend. God has been doing a similar work in my heart. Love to you and your family.

  3. Love this post. Something that we all need to our hearts from time to time...whether it be through a missions trip or through scripture....I think it happens the best when we step out of our "world"...our comfort zone. God calls us to be step out of the boat.

    I am so thrilled for you.


  4. Keep writing. It is so real and inspiring. God is working in and through you in a mighty, mighty way.