I don’t know what possesses me to do it but I do it anyways. I tell my husband, “I would like to go on a hike. Let’s go…today!!”. He is ecstatic. This is his thing. Something he is always wishing I would want to do.
Five minutes go by, we haven’t even left, and I think, “What was I thinking? What happend in my mind that I would tell him that?”. I hate hiking. I hate most everything about it. Ok I know, hate is a strong word. I very much dislike it. I
hate dislike the mosquitos that swarm in herds around only me, as if my blood is so much sweeter than that of my other half. He could hike all day and not get one. single. bite. Me? I have 15 in the first 10 minutes. I dislike the fact that a tick can at any moment attach its little, itty, bitty body to my skin whilst I am unawares in the unknown forest. I dislike getting lost. Which has happend most every time I have hiked anywhere.
But…I love the views. And the feeling I get afterward of accomplishment. And I love taking the first big gulp of ice cold water when I am super tired and sweaty after climbing up a crazy trail. And I love when I find a bright pink flower, tucked deep inside the woods that maybe no one else sees except me… like maybe Jesus put it there for just me to see and to be in awe of His glory and the fact that He sees it all, even in a vast, deep forest on a mountain.
So maybe thats why this morning when I woke up I told him that I want to go hike.
So I make a lunch for four, fill up our water bottles, grab the bug lotion and bandaids and we are off.
We get there and we can’t find our way. What trail do we get on? What way do we go? Why can’t I read the map like a normal person? A nice man in red with a water-bottle-fanny-pack, sees we are seriously confused and gives us the gist of the trails here and points us in the direction we should go to get where we want to go.
This should be easy, a family day of fun, but I am immediately recognizing my inadequacy and that I am much more comfortable behind a haircutting chair, with my leopard print wedge heels on, in the concrete city jungle. I am out of my comfort zone and getting eaten alive by these mosquitos that insist on swarming me. Why, again, did I tell him I wanted to do this?
I think of this moment, as my finger is stuck on the computer’s send button this evening. It is seriously stuck. I can’t move it. I am frozen.
I feel my husband’s hand over mine. “We can do it…together”, he says softly.
“I can’t”, my voice crackling, “I can’t do it.”. A huge alligator tear falls swiftly down my swollen mosquito bitten cheek.
“Yes, you can. We, can. This is what we have been waiting for, what He has sent us to do.”, he tells me.
Yes, my husband is usually always the voice of reason when I am overwhelmed-I thank God for this fact. I feel his hand press on mine. We push together… and it’s done. Our plane tickets to South America are purchased.
We are going. In just 59 days we will leave. On a huge plane (And by the way, I
HATE flying. Ok, seriously, seriously dislike. Ok no, I HATE flying.). Going to a place that I have never been. That may have more mosquitos than we have here. I will not know the language. I will not be able speak to anyone in a real conversation until I learn the language well enough. (If you have met me, you will know how hard it will be for me to not be able to converse with people at first!). I will not know the culture. It will be a totally foreign land. What will my kids do? Will they make friends? Will they get sick? Will I be ruining their lives by taking them there?? These are all things going thru my mind in a manner of a minute.
Oh sweet Jesus, my heart is fluttering, beating so fast. Am I having a heart attack? This is happening, actually happening. The tickets are purchased and we are going.
I begin to cry. No, I begin to sob. My husband, he sees me, crying like a baby. He was previously smiling and ecstatic, because, well, this is his thing. He is a missionary kid. He grew up in a foreign land. He loves travel, culture, adventure, the unknown. But he sees me, he sees me crying and I look up and see his eyes, and he has compassion for me, the city dweller, the safety keeper, who is straight terrified of the unknown.
I am sobbing. “I can’t do it. I can’t go. What am I doing? How did this happen? Why did I press that button?”. I am repeating this over and over. And then, “I love it here, I am safe, I know what to do, I know what to say, I have friends, I want to stay here. What did we just do???”.
I know it is just a passing moment. So does he. But even so, he grabs me, puts his arms around me, and holds me tight while the tears pour out of my eyes onto his shoulders.
He holds me. And doesn’t condemn. Just loves. I feel grace pour out of his arms around me and I think of what Jesus has said to me, to us.
“…All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”. Hebrews 11
And He reminds me, here in my husbands arms, that there is a better place. One that is better than the place I am comfortable in. A place where there will be no more tears, no more pain, no more anguish, no more longing for something better, no more holes left in hearts waiting to be filled, no more jealousy, rage, grief, or anything left to be desired.
It couldn’t be a more perfect place: ‘a heavenly homeland’.
And there is people who do not know about this place. People who don’t even know about HIM. And the hope He brings. I still sob but it is a sob of longing. To tell them, to share with them the Treasure of the heavens and earth, a Person who came to die for them, that they would know life to the fullest and live with Him for eternity. To share with just one person who has never heard makes it all worth it. All the tears, the pain of leaving, that one may have eternal life or even that they would have the gift of choosing to believe truth or reject it.
And so instead of battling the fear, I choose to look at Him. I picture my Father holding me in His arms just as my husband is holding me in his, “Jesus!”, I cry. “I choose Your peace, Your joy. You brought us here to this point- You called us and we followed- and we pressed the button to get our tickets and we are going. Use us to the fullest extent, that You alone would be glorified!! Thank You, that this is all out of my comfort zone, that I am terrified, that I am weak and completely inadequate. That I can’t even go on a small two hour hike much less go to the ends of the earth on my own strength- because then anyone who sees will know that any good that comes out of any of this is ALL because of You. Thank You, Jesus, that Your grace is completely sufficient. Thank you for choosing to use someone as weak as me. May I always remember what You have done for me, and where you have brought me from-You pulled me out of a pit of darkness and showered me with the Light of Your Son and there is grace- even for a sinner such as me. Thank You for sending us! What a privilege and honor to go in your Name. I pray You would keep us strong and courageous, that we may share with them the greatest news in the world. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You”.
As I think on what He has done to get us here, I can’t stop saying it,
“Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.”.
And after eight years of training and preparing, I open up the closet, take out the dusty suitcases, fill up my water bottle, and begin to prepare my mind for the journey. Tears still falling, heart full, I open up the Book, the One that challenged me to go.
I thank Jesus that this world is not all there is – that I am foreigner, a nomad on this earth. The Book reminds me to live in light of eternity. To invest my life into eternity. Yes, we could do that here. But He has sent us there.
So we go. Longing for the Better Place.