Honduras, Dia ?

I remember sharing with a friend that I did not think the “old me” would be coming back from Honduras. I had no idea how accurate that was.
The last four, nearly five, months have been an interesting adventure. Interesting in that I stepped away from a full-time position and maintained only a part-time position where I presently work. I had no other plank in the bridge to step on, only faith. And surprisingly, I had peace. I am not one for high-risk adventures. If you know me at all, you know that well. I prefer my risks to be calculated, thank you. But this time I did a different calculation and started drawing upon the reservoirs of grace and provision that God makes available.
Far too often, we find it strangely comforting to be self-reliant. Our pride and sense of accomplishment draws us in like inviting ocean waters. So, pride in hand, we swim out to say, “Look how far I have come!” No sooner do we raise our hand in exclamation than the powerful riptide of pride pulls us under. I know that has happened to me. If it has not happened to you, it will.
One thing that I had to let go of was my grasp of a title. When I stepped away from the full-time role, I was left with only one title, that of chaplain. As I applied for and didn’t receive positions that I felt qualified to fill, an interesting thought dawned on me. Four of the last five positions, or titles, that I have held have been positions that I was directly asked to seek. There was only one that I applied for and received without being asked – the ministry role. “Oh!” I exclaimed in awareness, “You’ve been making this clear all along.” I just was not looking.
It has taken me time to accept the role that I hold. In my second interview for the position, I shoved off the possibility that kids might call me “pastor.” In the form of Moses, I gave a “surely-not-me” type of response. But then the kids did start to call me that, as did the staff. What’s going on here? But I continued to do the work, and I held firmly to this place where God had brought me. I knew that he had placed me there for a reason, and to leave it would only bring me frustration.
About two weeks before I left for Honduras, I was finally able to tell my supervisor that I see myself as a pastor now, a pastor without a building. Whether by “pastor” or “minister,” I humbly accept this calling upon my life. There is a reason that I was born into a Christian family. There is a reason that my parents sacrificed to give me a Christian education. There is a reason I have felt called to serve others. There is a reason that God has allowed me to have the experiences that I have had, and that is to stop, turn around, and pour back out all of the love that has been given to me.
When I first traveled abroad it was to Nicaragua. I came back excited about what I had been able to experience. That was in 2009. I had paid it little mind until recently. There was something about the mention of a trip to Honduras that grabbed my attention. And, at the same time that I was stepping away from a title, I was stepping forward in faith that God wanted me to go to Honduras.
What I did not see, however, was just how strong the pull would be for me to return. I have not been an especially pleasant person this week. I have been irritable, frustrated, tired, and grumpy. (And yes, mom, I am eating and taking naps.) The problem lies in my “now what?” How do I mesh my experience in Honduras with my experience here?
People have differing perspectives on mission trips. Some will say, “Why would you spend money to go there when there is so much need here?” I hear you, but I don’t believe that the view has to be mutually exclusive. Going abroad and serving at home are mutually beneficial, not mutually exclusive.
Everything that I have learned here, in ministry, work, and education, helped me to be the person that I was when I was in Honduras. Everything that I learned in Honduras and in Nicaragua helps me to be the person that serves here in Grand Rapids. One shapes the other, but you cannot shape the one without the other. The truth is that my home is not here in Grand Rapids. I have never felt that. But the truth is that neither is my home in Honduras. This world is not our home, right?
So if my home is in heaven, the place that God is preparing for me, what am I to do here? Love God and love people. Going abroad reminds us of the universal truth of human brokenness. And it is also true that, universally, people need grace. And people give grace. In my two weeks abroad, I would venture to say that I gave and received more hugs than in all of the length of time in-between. Why? Partly due to culture and partly due to a recognized common love for the Lord.
There is brokenness here too, and a need for grace. Unfortunately the culture in which I am living has become very good at covering it up. We sell artificial grace, things that will make it seem like we are not broken. But, at the end of the day, we always have to take off our artificial grace. We are exposed. It is tiring. Wearisome. And unnecessary.
There is no grace substitute, and it would serve us well to stop searching. And there is no right nor wrong place to serve the Lord. We must serve where we are. One of the genuine difficulties for me this week was in leaving Honduras. It felt more like home than home. But God also reminded me that I am not ready for that step. Some day, Lord willing, I will be. But I cannot fast forward his plan for me. There is love to give here. Grace to give here. And grace to receive, much grace to receive, before the next place comes.
The only time that Jesus really began to speak about his future plans was when he knew his time had arrived. And even then, the disciples began to doubt and question. We do not need to see around the bend. We only need to see the road and the One who walks with us. When we see what is around the bend, it will make perfect sense. But, if we saw it now, we probably wouldn’t believe it anyway.
Keep walking, my friends.

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