Man, things sure can change in a week. Last Sunday I was laying in bed groaning in discomfort and saying “Lord, please just take me now,” thanks to a stomach bug that decided to become friends – better yet, enemies – with my belly. This past Sunday, I was running a 5k race in the capital city. I don’t think I have to tell you which was a better option for me. I was grateful to look back and see how much things had changed for the better in that week.
These past couple of weeks haven’t been the best of my time here. In general, I have just been straight homesick. It started with seeing some pics from back home – green rolling pastures dotted with black cattle. A wonderful sight for these sore eyes. Yet, a sight that left me full of turmoil over not being there to see it in person. Unavoidably, the tears started falling as I began to count the cost (yet again) of living in my current environment. As far as I was concerned, I could start packing my bags because home is where I wanted to be. Not too many days after that, I came down with the stomach bug mentioned above. In my opinion, you never want home more than when you are sick. As the sickness and misery drug on 2 days, 3 days, 4 days, then 5 days, more than once the thought “get me the heck out of here and back to America” crossed my mind. Believe it or not, in general, that thought does not usually cross my mind and I am basically happy to be here doing what I’m doing. But sickness does have a way of putting a different spin on things and I suddenly found myself not so content to be here. The discontent only increased as I began to contemplate what will become of life after this. (It’s about that time for me to start making decisions about what comes after these two years are done.) As I considered the possibility of this lifestyle as something that perhaps might be asked of me for more than just two years, all those feelings of homesickness just got deeper and deeper. No, surely not. Certainly the Father wouldn’t ask me to give up my home forever. Two years is fun and all, but lets be real, I only agreed to two years. Two years is long enough to be so far from all the people, places, and things that I love.
But, yes, yes, the Father does ask me – all of us really – to be willing to give up our homes and our lives. In fact, He tells us that this isn’t our home to begin with and those of us who seek to save our life will lose it. Only by losing our lives to Him, will we truly be saved. And He makes it crystal clear that He is to be our first love and our first pursuit, so much so that our love for our families looks like hatred compared to our love for Him. Those reminders didn’t make me feel immediately better, but it did refreshe my perspective on what He does in fact ask of us.
Later on in the week, when the sickness had left me and I could see with clear eyes once again, I decided that life here wasn’t so bad after all. Actually, I like living here…most days. I like the work we do. As Kim and I sat in a dark, smokey hut helping a friend of ours recover from an operation in the hopes of getting pregnant, I realized that I like feeling like I am helping people here. People who really have no one else to help them. People who really don’t even know that they could be helped. And that’s not even considering the fact that most of them have never heard stories – the ones we take for granted – about the Son!
As I sat in that hut, I found myself agreeing with an excerpt from the book, Kisses from Katie – if you haven’t read it, you probably should.
“Sometimes I want to spend hours talking with my best friends about boys and fashion and school and life. I want to to go to the gym; I want my hair to look nice; I want to be allowed to wear jeans. I want to be a normal young woman living in America, sometimes.
But I want other things more. All the time. I want to be spiritually and emotionally filled every day….
…..I want to be challenged endlessly. I want to be taught by those I teach, and I want to share G’s love with people who otherwise might not know it. I want to work so hard that I end every day filthy and too tired to move. I want to make some kind of difference, no matter how small, and I want to follow the calling G has placed on my heart. I want to give my life away, to serve the L with each breath….”
I won’t lie, I don’t even desire those things all of the time, but I do most of the time. And most of the time is enough to get me through those “sometimes” when I desire my American life again. As I rode down the road the other day, a song that has been newly introduced to me came on my ipod. It is titled “We are the Body” and it is by Mandi Mapes. These are the lyrics that struck me:
We are the body of the Most High
We are the bride of the Savior
We fall for the King of the Kingdom as we sing the songs of salvation
We stand for those who can not stand for themselves
We love the loveless
We go where your Light’s not shining
We are the Body of Christ
Is that not so true? Is that not who we are? Is that not what its all about? Whether our lives are in America or in Africa, are we not the Body? Are we standing for those who can not stand, loving the loveless, going where the Light is not shining? Whether or not my future is meant to be overseas or back in good ole’ South Georgia, this fact should not change. It is what we are to be doing no matter where we are living! It was something I needed to be reminded of in a week where my perspective was being challenged.