Hosea 2:14, 15
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope.
There she will respond (sing) as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
I came to Guatemala in search of Jesus in action. I guess that’s the best way to describe it. Missions trips were something that Larry and I had always planned to do “someday”, but our “someday” was cut short. I first heard about this particular mission project last year when we went to church with Jeff & Amy Brandon, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. Something in my spirit perked up when Pastor Jim was talking about it and my heart whispered back, “next year”. When next year arrived and we were moving to Allendale anyway, it was time!
As I said, I came to Guatemala in search of Jesus in action, or the real Jesus. The Jesus who got dirty and sweaty and reached out to help the ones in need. Something else happened along the way. I came face to face with myself. I didn’t care for what I saw.
Dan, the mission director, asked us the very first night if we loved Jesus or if we were in love with Jesus. Being in love is so much more than just loving. When you are in love your thoughts never stray from the object of your affections. You are consumed with them. You long to be with them every moment that you are apart. I love chocolate, but I’m not in love with chocolate. I had to admit that I treated my relationship with Jesus more like chocolate; it was there when I was hungry for it but otherwise I just left it alone. My relationship with chocolate was probably stronger than my relationship with Jesus. Ouch.
What I found in Guatemala was a woman who knew all the right things to say, knew the words to all the right songs, a woman who talked the talk but couldn’t walk that path because deep inside she was still full of resentment. How could I profess to be there serving the Savior that I love while my spirit was still gray with resentment because my husband was not healed of his brain cancer on my side of heaven. How human, broken, and selfish that is! God did not take my husband. He restored and perfected my husband and brought him home to glory. My life is still so full of undeserved blessings that I take for granted every day. Even simple things like safe water. I do think about that now when I go to the refrigerator for water that is filtered of even the chemicals used to make it safe so that it tastes good. A bathroom that can handle toilet paper and has a roof and door and seat…. A large house, not huge but compared to what we saw there it is a mansion! I have 4 sons that I am so proud of. Three of them have grown into amazing men. School for them wasn’t an impossible dream. They are all paying for their own college. Drew, Wade, and Scott… I am so proud of you. I love you more than you will ever know. I fall short in so many ways as your mother, but my love for you will never fade! The fourth is Noah, a gift to my loneliness. I see bits of each of his older brothers and his daddy in him everyday. I have the love of my husband’s family as well as my own. I have a steady income. I have the privilege of worshiping God openly without fear of persecution.
All this and more, and yet I still held so much resentment.
I set out to court my Savior, to fall in love with him in the days we were down there. I found Jesus in the work. I found Jesus smiling in the brown faces that were overjoyed to see us, to have someone care enough to reach out to them. I found my own heartbeat again. I found joy in the trust of a little girl who only wanted me to love her and hold her. I found that I could leave a bit of my heart behind and still be overflowing with the love of God.
The last evening before the flight home we had devotions that were a bit more intense than they’d been so far… and they’d been intense. That evening found me kneeling on the floor with my head buried in my arms on my chair, a river of tears that could not be stopped wracking my body with soul shattering sobs. My only thought was, “I’m so sorry, please forgive me.” That phrase rang out inside me over and over. My Jesus was there with his arms open, waiting patiently for the resentment to flow away from my heart, whispering to my spirit, “It’s time, let it go.”
I went to Guatemala to find Jesus. Jesus didn’t need to be found, he was with me all the time. I had to go to Guatemala to lose myself and fall in love with the One who saved me.