Borrowed Words of Blessing

Now I know how my kids feel.
Every day I make them write in a “Reflection Log” about their day.
It is a great communication tool between them, their parents and me.

But they often whine, “I don’t know what to write.”
And that is where I find myself today.

Usually when it is time to write my blog, I have something simmering inside me, waiting to pour out through my fingers.

But not today.

Sometimes the struggles are too personal to share.
Or sharing them would negatively impact someone else.

Sometimes the words just don’t come.
And you end up writing about the fact that you can’t think of anything to write.

I find myself here today.
Wondering what to share.

Since I don’t have words of my own to encourage your heart, I am going to borrow some from Elisabeth Elliot, one of my heroes of the faith. If you do not know her story, check out the book “Through Gates of Splendor” or the movie “The End of the Spear”. She is with Jesus now, but her legacy lives on through her words. These quotes encourage me; I hope they bless you, too.

—–

“The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

“You can never lose what you have offered to Christ.”

“The will of God is never exactly what you expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end it’s going to be a lot better and a lot bigger.”

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’”

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”

“God never denies us our hearts desire except to give us something better.”

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”

“Worship is not an experience. Worship is an act, and this takes discipline. We are to worship ‘in spirit and in truth.’ Never mind about the feelings. We are to worship in spite of them.”

“Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on him who has all things safely in his hands.”

You can find a full list of quotes, including these, at https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/spiritual-life/inspiring-quotes/40-inspiring-quotes-from-elisabeth-elliot.html

Between the Sea and a Hard Place

I find myself standing between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army.
I have no doubt God led me here.
To this “rock and a hard place”.
Or, rather, this inescapable ocean of difficulty.
No going back.
No going forward.
Stuck on both sides.
In danger either way.

I must confess that in this place I have been acting exactly like the ancient Hebrews.

From Exodus 14:
“As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Like them, I have cried out to God in terror.
I have questioned His approach.
And what is worse, I have questioned His goodness.
Been angry at His ways.

I like to think of myself as an optimist.
And because I like to make people laugh and am often smiling, many people think I am one.
But honestly, I am a closet pessimist.
I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Always looking at – and for – the worst-case scenario.

And while it is true that Jesus said, “In this world you WILL have trouble of various kinds”, He didn’t leave it there.
He finished with “Take heart, for I have overcome the world.”

In other words, I need to believe that God is FOR me and not against me.
Believe that He is at work, even when I cannot see it.
Believe that He will make a way where there is no way.
Believe that He will take even the worst circumstances and use them for good.
Believe that nothing happens to me without His permission.
Believe that He is never surprised.
Believe that He has my best interest at heart.

That was what Moses told the people that day as they were genuinely (and justifiably) afraid of what their eyes and ears where telling them.

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Do you know what I love about this story?
I love that the people had to wait.
God did not split the sea the instant Moses raised his staff.
Nope.
God sent a wind – a strong, probably terrifying wind.
One that would have whipped up the sand.
Perhaps blown down the tents.
Whistled and howled.

But that wind never moved the pillar of cloud that was between the Israelites and the enemy.
The presence of the Lord was not baffled by the fear of the people.
Nor by the wind of the circumstances.
He WAS the wind of the circumstances.
And as the people sat still, He moved.
And as He moved, the water moved.

And then the people had to move.
They had to walk through those walls of water.
Believing they would stand.
Believing God would keep them.

And He did.
Until the very last Israeli foot cleared the seabed.

And He still wasn’t done.
Because the Egyptians had thought to take advantage of the Providence of God.
They had moved onto that dry land, trusting in the speed of their chariots and horses to catch a million people on foot.
But God moved again.
And the wheels literally fell off their plan.
Their chariots wheels suddenly stopped moving. Jammed by the hand of God.
They knew then that they had made a mistake messing with God’s people.
Ten awful plagues should have told them that.
But this was their fatal flaw – attempting to take out people who were under the protection of Almighty God.

And so God literally wiped them out.
The walls of water fell just like the walls of Jericho would 40 years later.
And the Egyptian army was swept away.

I am so frustrated with myself for being a grumbling, shrieking, moaning unbeliever as I stand in this place.
I have SEEN the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
I have SEEN Him do incredible things with my own eyes.
Not to mention all of the accounts in the biblical record.

They had seen Him send plague after plague for their deliverance.
He had brought them so far – and yet they really thought He was going to leave them to die in the wilderness.

He has brought me so far – why do I think the same way?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to face the Red Seas of my life with fear.
I don’t want to be like the Israelites back then – not even a little.
I want to face the trials with triumph.
With great anticipation of what God will do.
No matter how hard the wind blows.
No matter how big the army.
No matter how confounding the circumstances.
No matter how intimidating the enemy.

My God is bigger.
Stronger.
More.
He is able.
And He will move.

I don’t know how and I don’t know when.
But I know He is up to something that is for my good and His glory.
Something that will show the evidence of who He is.
And so I will choose to trust.
I will tell fear to shut up and get out every time it tries to worm its way in.
I will choose to lift high a sacrifice of praise, even when my emotions are low.
I will choose to fear only One.
And I will choose to believe He is good.
Right in all He does.
That He is for me and not against me.

I am looking forward to how this sea will part.
And I feel sorry for the Egyptians on my tail.
Because my God’s got this.
And I will praise Him for it in advance.

When Jesus Lets You Down…

God didn’t protect me the other day.
He totally could have stopped the circumstance that happened.
But He didn’t.

And I was mad.
My head knows the answers:
God has higher ways.
His thought are not like ours.
He is good.
Everything He does is right.

But I was still mad.

I told Him that.
We hashed it out.
It took several days.
But in the end, I once again concluded that He is either God, or He is not.
And if I truly believe He is God then there is only one answer to give Him:
Your will be done.

I don’t have to like it.
I don’t have to understand it.
I don’t have to think it is the best course of action.
But I am not God.
He is.
And this is where the rubber meets the road on my faith.
What do I REALLY believe?
And do I TRULY trust Him?

I got to thinking about all the people that Jesus let down.
The people He frustrated.
Disappointed.
Exasperated.

I realized there is quite a list in just three short years of ministry!

It started with His very first miracle, turning water into wine.
His mom knew who He was and what He could do. So she asked for help.
He told her the timing wasn’t right.
Her response? She simply told the servants to do whatever He told them to do.
She didn’t nag, whine or yell.
She quietly believed and then sat back and watched.

His cousin John sent him a desperate message.
John, who had prepared the way for Him, knowing He was the Messiah.
John, who said, “I’m not even worthy to lace up his sandals.”
John, who said, “He must increase while I must decrease.”
He sat rotting in a dungeon simply because he told the Herod the truth about his sin.
John, from the depths of his pain cried out, “Are you really the One we’ve been waiting for? Or should we look for another?”
In other words, Jesus, did I waste my life on You? Are You really worth it?

Jesus was with the disciples when the storm came up.
With them in the boat – but not active against the storm.
He was sleeping.
And these seasoned fishermen cried out, “Don’t you care if we drown?”

Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother, His dear, dear friend, was very ill.
And then they sat and waited.
Because Jesus didn’t come.
He didn’t heal him.
He didn’t even send a message back with the messenger.
And when He finally did manage to show up it was four days too late.
Four days dead.
Decay had set in.
And all hope was lost.
And they said, “If you had been here, our brother would not have died!”

The rich young ruler asked Jesus how to be saved.
And the answer Jesus gave him was a huge disappointment.
The words were, “Sell all that you have and come follow me.”
The message was, “Make me Plan A. The only plan. No other gods before Me.”
And the young man went away sad because he couldn’t let go.

The crowd in Jerusalem – hundreds of people – were so frustrated that Jesus rode in like a King but then didn’t do what they expected that they went from “Hosanna!” to “Kill him!” in a few short days.

Peter was so unprepared for seeing Jesus arrested that he went from “I would never disown You” to “I’ve never met him”.

Thomas was so shaken by His death that he refused to believe in His resurrection without proof.

Judas was so disappointed by Jesus’ overall behavior that he sold his location for a bag of coins.

Over and over again, Jesus did not respond “correctly”.
The person had one idea.
He had another.
The person had one plan.
He saw a bigger picture.
The person had one agenda.
He had an eternal perspective.

It is easy for me to look at their lives, their reactions, and judge them.
Find them wanting.
Wonder why they didn’t have more faith.

But in those cases, I know the end of the story.
The best wine ever tasted.
John praised by Jesus, held up as an example of faith.
Jesus calming the storm with just a few words.
Lazarus resurrected.
The crucifixion leading to my redemption.
Peter’s denial showcasing how the Holy Spirit can transform a fearful coward to a bold and faithful minister.
Thomas’ doubt leading to Jesus blessing me and all of us who “have not seen and yet believed.”

Or, in the negative cases of the rich dude and Judas, their ultimate destruction because of their lack of belief.

I know the end of their stories.
But really, the only difference between their lives and mine is that I know the details of the ends of their stories.
I know the end of my story, too.
God has promised to be with me in trials.
To give me help in time of need.
To supply all that I need.
To give me wisdom when I ask.
To work out all things “in conformity to the purpose of His will.”
To show His glory – the evidence of Who He is – in every circumstance I face.
To work them ALL together for my good.
And to ultimately take me home to be with Him forever, leaving all the pain behind.

I know the end of my story.
I just don’t know the details.
How He will accomplish the impossible.
IF He will accomplish what I want or something else.
How long I will have to wait.
And what tests lie before me.

And that is where I get lost.
Hurt. Angry.
And frustrated.
I want to know NOW how He is going to work this all out.
And I wonder at times IF He will work it all out.

But that is why He gave us all those people, all those stories.
They are examples of how He took the darkness and changed it to light.
How He transformed “impossible” to “done”.
How His delays were strategic.
His timing was perfect.
And His non-answers were leading to better, bigger, more glorious results.

So that is why I love the message Jesus sent back to John as he sat in Herod’s dungeon. John’s disciples asked and He said nothing. He just proceeded to do the work God gave Him. Here is how Luke records it:
“At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.”
But then Jesus spoke:
“So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”

So what will I do the next time Jesus lets me down?
I pray that I will choose to believe.
Believe that He is good.
That everything He does is right.
That His higher ways really are better than mine.
That He can be trusted.

And I pray that I will not stumble because I don’t understand.

Because He is not a vending machine.
Or a genie in a bottle.
He is not a puppet I control with certain prayers or words or actions.
He is not Someone I can fully understand.

But He is good.
And He is for me.
And I pray that the next time He offends me, this will be my immediate answer:
“I trust You. Your will be done.”

 

A Tale Of Three Teachers (Or, A Tribute to Vivian Fairnot)

5th Grade
5th Grade…

A Tale Of Three Teachers (Or, A Tribute to Vivian Fairnot)

Ms. H. did not like me. It was obvious.
I annoyed her.
My parents told me it was a “personality conflict”.
But when you are 8 it doesn’t really matter why your teacher dislikes you.
You just know that they do – and you shrivel a little – or a lot – inside.

Ms. M. was way less subtle about her disdain.
I not only annoyed her, she actively loathed me.
And it wasn’t in my imagination.
The last day of 4th grade she told me that I was the dumbest kid she had ever taught and that she was glad the year was over.
It didn’t help that she “told” me that at a loud volume in front of my class as the rest of the school was filing in for the final assembly.

I remember those two teachers vividly.
How much they disliked me.
How worthless they made me feel.

But then you had Mrs. Vivian Fairnot.
She gets her full name in this post because she deserves it.
We switched schools the year I went into 5th grade.
And she was my teacher.
What a difference she made in my life!

She liked me.
Enjoyed being my teacher.
Told me so.
And backed her words with actions.
She gave me responsibility.
Listened to my stories.
Laughed at my jokes.
Believed in me.
And basically loved me just as I was.

I didn’t change much at all between 4th and 5th grade.
But I became a different person because of my 5th grade year.
My whole outlook changed because of one teacher.
She wasn’t perfect.
But she loved well.
And for that I will always be grateful.

All three of those teachers influenced who I am today.
How I teach.
What I believe about children.
And why I do things the way I do.

I tell them the truth.
If I believe they can do better, I tell them.
If I believe they gave it their all, I tell them.
But either way, I tell them every day that I love them.
That I am glad they are my kids.
That I am happy God gave them to me.

I tell them to do their work independently – and sometimes to redo their work – because they are smarter than they think they are.
And I tell them to be respectful because I believe they have to ability to do so.
I tell them to love each other because God loves them and I love them.
And I tell them that they can do ALL things through Christ. Even math. Even loving each other. Even the things that feel impossible when you are 8, 9 and 10.

I tell them to ask for help when they need it.
But to push themselves to do better, too.

All of these things I learned from Mrs. Fairnot.
As well as other amazing teachers through the years.
But she stands out as the teacher who made the turning point happen for me.
She literally changed my life.

I never got a chance to thank her in person here on earth.
I found out that God called her home this week.
It makes me grateful once again for heaven.
Because one of the things I plan to do when I get there is to find her and thank her.

I don’t care if you are a teacher, a parent or simply a person who knows a child.
Please, please watch what you say to them.
And how you treat them.
The things you say and do speak volumes to them.
As well as what you don’t say and don’t do.
They may still hear your voice in their head 40 years after the fact.

One final thought – all three of those teachers taught in Christian schools.
All three claimed to know Christ.
But only one showed Him to me through her actions.

Do the kids in your world see Jesus in you?
Do they know He loves them because you do?
Oh, how I hope so!
Because Jesus loved the kids.
Made time and space for them.
Blessed them.
And warned the grown-ups – US – to not give them any reason to stumble.

May you be a blessing in the life of a child today!

And Mrs. Fairnot, thank you.

You always said, “Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”
Your walk talked volumes into my life – and therefore into the lives of hundreds of children.
Well done, Teacher, well done.

Lessons From My Classroom

It happens every day in my classroom.
And I am guessing that it probably happens every day in every classroom around the world.

Student: Teacher, I don’t know how to do this.
Teacher: Here, I will show you. (Demonstrates, has student practice.)
Student: Oh, I get it! Thanks.

30-minutes later, turns in paper with all incorrect answers.

Teacher: What happened? I thought you understood.
Student: Ummm…I thought my way was better. (Or some other excuse…)

Or this scenario:

Teacher: OK, class today you will do A, B and then C. Please tell me what you are going to do.
Students: We will do A, B, and then C.
Teacher: Great! Get to work.

2-minutes later:

Student: Teacher, what am I supposed to do?

It happens every day in my heart.

Me: God, I don’t know how to handle this.
God: Here’s the answer in My Word. (Shows me repeatedly, reminding me of past lessons)
Me: Oh, I get it! Thanks!

30-minutes (or less) later, right back at fretting about the issue, making a plan, trying to solve it, trying to figure it out.

God: What happened? Why aren’t you trusting Me and My Word?
Me: Ummm…I thought my way was better…

Or this scenario:

God: OK, Kathy, here is the plan: Love Me first, then love the people I put in your path and as you love them, tell them about Me. That’s is all you have to do. I’ll take care of everything else.
Me: OK, God. I will love You first, then people and I’ll tell them about You. And let You handle everything else.
God: Great! Let’s go.

Two-minutes later:

Me: God, I’m taking back everything I just gave You. I think I can handle it better than You can. After all, do You really know what You’re doing? You are awfully slow. And besides, I just can’t see how You’re going to do it. And it really needs to be done. Feels super urgent to me. So I am going to sit over here and fret about these small things while the world dies and goes to hell with You. Hope that’s OK with You.

Of course, my answer isn’t verbalized quite like that.
It isn’t verbalized at all.
It shows up in my actions.
The rat-race of my brain, trying to figure it out, make a plan, get ahead of the circumstance, wonder what to do.
Instead of doing the three things He commanded:
Love God.
Love people.
Go tell.


At least three times a day I say, “Let me be the teacher, please.”
When a kid takes it upon himself to direct the class.
Tell another kid what to do.
Help me get their attention,
Tattle on someone else.

I have to remind them that I am the one in charge.
I have the plan for the day.
And while I am not perfect, I have more experience and wisdom than they do.

At least thirty times a day God has to say to me, “Let me be God, please.”
When I start to fret.
When I problem-solve instead of pray.
When I lean on my own understanding.
When I forget who is in charge.

He has to remind me that He has got this.
He has the plan for my life.
And He IS perfect, with the whole picture in mind.
He is for me and not against me.
He is my judge – but He is also my vindicator.
He is my provider and my protector.
He loves the people I love more than I do.
And He has the best plan for them, too.
HE is the Teacher.
The Master.
The Lord of All.
Sovereign over all.
The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Not me.

Every morning I greet my kids at the door with options:
Hug, handshake, high-five or fist bump.
Different ones choose different things.
Doesn’t really matter what they choose – in fact, a couple of them think it is great game to duck in the door without me “catching” them.

Every morning, God greets me with new mercies.
New hope.
Fresh messages from His Word.
A renewal of my mind.
A refreshment of my spirit.

Always available – when I take the time to stop at the door of the day and meet up with Him.
He just wants me to know that He loves me.
And that He’s got this.


Classroom lessons.
May I ever be a willing student.
Because He will ever be the best Teacher.

What Jesus Didn’t Say

It’s not what He said – it is what He didn’t say that reached out and grabbed me.
Jesus was preaching to a huge crowd, sitting on the side of a mountain.
He covers A LOT of territory in this “Sermon on the Mount” as we have named it. (Matthew 5-7)
But again, it wasn’t what He said.
It was what He didn’t say.

He starts off the section that grabbed me by talking about money and the heart.
The whole sermon is about the heart.
But in this particular section He is teaching about money.
He starts by cautioning against idolatry.
He says, “You can’t serve God and money. You must pick. One of them gets your full attention. The other one is a loser. You choose.”

He then goes on to address the automatic response of every idolater – our justification of why it is NOT idolatry at all.
We don’t have to say it – He knows our hearts. He knows we are thinking:
“Oh, Lord, I’m not serving money. I just NEED it to do everyday life! After all, I have eat and I need clothes. So no, it’s not an idol, Jesus. It is just very, very important. After all, I have to pay my bills and look after me, right? That’s called being responsible, right?”

But I love what Jesus does next.
He puts the responsibility squarely on GOD’S shoulders.
Sure – money is a tool.
And yes, it needs to be stewarded well.
But I am not my provider.
I am not my source.
And I am not even my own resource.

Jesus addresses this smokescreen that we all love to use.
“If I don’t look out for me, who will?”
“I have to be a good steward so I have to worry about these things.”
“God helps those who help themselves!”

Paraphrasing here, He says, “Look, folks, at how God provides for things that don’t last, things that aren’t eternal. He makes sure the birds eat and the flowers are glorious – and they are extremely temporary things! But you – YOU are eternal. Made in the image of God. His kid. He is your DAD. If your Dad takes care of the inconsequential things so well, how much more is He going to provide for you, His beloved child?”

And then He gives the formula for success, the way to deal with ALL idols, including money:
“Make God’s priorities your priorities and He will take care of the rest.”

Put everything in life through the filter of the Kingdom.

Does this promote the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of me?
Does this action (reaction, response, post, photograph, outfit, words, media choice, work ethic, relationship, career, e-mail, tone of voice, body language, etc.) promote God or promote me?
Do I care about the things God cares about?
Do I even know what He cares about or thinks about an issue?
Do I value His Word over anyone else’s?
Do I turn to Him in a crisis?
Or, better yet, do I turn to Him FIRST in a crisis? Or He is an add-on in my life? “Oh, this is a bad one! I better pray about it.”

If I am using that filter, the lens of Kingdom glasses to view every part of my world, then I am seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

And no, not in a legalistic way.
Of course, I mess up.
Of course, I put myself first at times.
Of course, I blow it.

But even that can be dealt with in a Kingdom-seeking way or a self-seeking way.
When I mess up, what do I do then?
Do I keep short accounts with God?
Am I sensitive to His prompting?
Do I humbly bow or loudly protest when the Spirit nudges me?

Because here’s the thing:
If I am really seeking first His Kingdom, looking at all of life through the lens of Kingdom glasses, I don’t have the time or energy to worry about the other stuff.

And that is good.
Because I love what He did NOT say.

He did not say, “Seek first the Kingdom. And then make a plan. Figure it out. Solve the problem. You got this!”

He did not say, “Seek first the Kingdom. But then be sure to name and claim what you want so I can act.”

He did not say, “Seek first the Kingdom. But then pace the floor, wondering how I will provide.”

He did not say, “Seek first the Kingdom and if I find that you meet qualifications, I will consider supplying your needs.”

He simply said, “Seek first the Kingdom. And then don’t worry. I’ve got this. Your life is hard enough without you trying to do my job.”

I know really, really well that all of this is easier said than done.
It is a battle.
But the battle is not to supply my own needs. Because I can’t.

The battle is to keep those Kingdom glasses firmly planted on my face.
The enemy wants my focus to be on everything else.
He wants me to say God is my provider but then act like I am.
He wants me to not pray but to worry instead.
He wants me to put my needs ahead of yours so that neither of us are blessed.

But “greater is He that is in me than he who is in the world.”
By His grace, those glasses can stay firmly planted.
By His grace, I can look at His face instead of the wind and waves.
By His grace, I can remember His character even when I cannot see His hand at work.
By His grace, I can let go of worry and relax under His care.

By His grace, I can “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”, knowing for sure that “all these things will be added unto me”.

I Love It Here. I Hate It Here.

 

I love it here.
Because there is a lot to love.
Beautiful scenery.
Fabulous people.
Meaningful work.
I never want to leave.

I hate it here.
There is injustice that runs rampant.
I struggle with communication.
There are people who pluck my last nerve.
And the amount of work to do is completely overwhelming.
I am ready to go home.

Do you think I am talking about Guatemala?
That would make sense.
I am literally living with a foot in two worlds, here and the U.S.
I have people I love in both places.
Obligations in both places.
Joys in both.
And frustrations in both.

But I’m not talking about Guatemala and the U.S.
I mean this world and the one to come.
This earthly life, which C.S. Lewis called “the title page”, and the one to come, the rest of the never-ending story of eternity with God.

I love it here. I love my life.
God has created amazing beauty and intricate details that delight my eyes and my soul.
He has given me people to be “my people”, to love and be loved.
And He has endowed me – and all Christ-followers – with the most meaningful work of all: being mirrors of His reflected glory for a world living in darkness.

But I also hate it here.
I hate sin.
And I hate its results.
Sickness. Death.
Disagreements.
Disappointments.
Bad communication.
Or no communication at all.
Injustice.
Darkness.
Hatred.
Wickedness.
And the list goes on.

This, my friends, is what is known as living between “the now and the not-yet”.
And it is a wonderfully terrible place to be.
Longing for home.
And yet enjoying the good things God has given us here.

Crying out for His justice to reign.
And yet reveling in the personal mercies He lavishes on us daily.

Doing our best to get the job done.
To love God. Love people. And tell them He loves them.
In spite of ourselves and the fact that He left the task with sinners like us.

Living overseas will always highlight this Truth in my life, this sense of living in between two worlds.
Having friends and loved ones scattered across the globe also makes it so real.
I live with my heart in many worlds, tied to many people. There are chunks of my heart, some large and some small, in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Japan, The U.S., Guatemala, Cambodia, Suriname and Germany.

And living with a heart broken in pieces is a tension, a heartache, a never-ending tug.
But it is worth it because it reminds me of the other, more real, more eternal tug that I need to feel every day.
I need to be reminded each day that this world is not my home.
I have not arrived.
I am living between the now and the not-yet.

It is easy to forget that.
To let all that my five senses take in define the words “world” and “real” and “important” instead of letting those words be defined by God.
To let the clocks and timelines of this life feel like all there is.

But this is not real life.
This is not the most important stuff.
I am not made for this world.
I am made for the next.

When I forget that fact, I lose all sense of urgency.
I forget that the people around me NEED me to tell them about the love of Jesus so that they can be with us in eternity.
I forget that all I invest, whether it is time, treasure, or talent, needs to be invested in those things that are eternal, not temporal.
And most of all, I forget to love as He loves.
I forget all that, lose all that, every time I forget that in this life, regardless of my earthly geography, I am a foreigner in a strange land, just passing through.

My time in Guatemala is short in the grand scheme of things.
And my time on this earth is even shorter in light of eternity.
So, what will I do?
Will I live in the tension, remembering to live in the reality of the now and the not-yet?
Or will I let busyness and fun and important tasks and to-do lists cause spiritual amnesia to creep in, causing me to forget all that is important, all that is real, all that is urgent?

It is a day-by-day decision.
I have made the right one most of the day today.
Prayerfully, I will make the right one for even longer tomorrow.
And the day after that.
And so on.

How about you?