Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On Coming Down from the Mountain

There is a stirring, a discontent. No, discontent isn't the right word. I cannot put my finger on it. A restlessness that I cannot define. 

We go home in 9 days. 9 days before we return to life stateside, to grocery stores and farmers' markets, preschool, Chipotle, girlfriends, walls and fences, rights and privilege, hot showers, reliable electricity, driving on the left side of the road, car seats, abundance, abundance, abundance.

9 days. Have I learned what You brought me here to teach? My eyes have been opened to MANY, many things, but I am slow to learn. My head is slow and heart is stubborn.

9 days. What I have heard, what I have seen throughout the past four months have been incredible lessons in community, what it is and how to live it. In grace; this has always been an ambiguous, churchy word to me, but I have seen it lived out and now know that it is much harder, and much more freeing than I ever imagined. In humility, which apparently I knew nothing about. It is freeing to know, and believe, that there is One who speaks on my behalf, yet incredibly hard to not open my mouth and fight. Learning to ask the questions, "Does it matter? Will this glorify God?"

Community, grace, humility.

There are things in my own life that I know must change, steps that I have taken that have hindered my growth, slowed my faith walk. Finding your way back to the path of God can be challenging, but He has promised that those who seek Him are sure to find Him. And so I seek, grasp, cry out, and know that He will answer.

I want to pray throughout the day, even fixed-hour prayer. I want to be sure to give You thanks before bites go into the mouth, because my eyes have seen and my heart has loved many who do not have such privilege. They have faces and names, bodies that I have held. They are not strangers to me, and I do not want to forget their plight, or the One who provides for us all. I want to be in the habit of feasting on the real Bread of life several times each day, and not when crisis or concern strikes, as that is what will nourish and grow me through all seasons. I want these things not for the sake of being a "better" Christian, but for the sake of knowing You more, walking more closely with You, living out this Christ-life and actually looking more like Christ. I want these to define my life with passion and energy, without becoming mindless routines.

Somehow, this status quo isn't enough. There is a void that has to be filled and my habit and flesh tendency would fill it with worldly things, such as food, or shopping, or just making myself busier to fill that void. But I have learned enough to know that those things don't fill the void, but only ease the pain of it for a short, short time. Here I have not had access to those "drugs" and so God has revealed Himself in mighty ways, as the Comforter and the One who heals.

How can I be truly set apart when my life feels so ordinary, so much like everybody else? How will anyone know anything about Jesus by looking at my life?

I have seen short-term mission teams come and go throughout the summer, so alive, passion burning. They are intentional and focused, set apart for a short season to proclaim the goodness of God. And I too have been a part of such a team, and remember standing at the mountaintop, bold for my Savior, wildly in love and wanting all in my path to receive His blessings of peace and life. But I cannot help but wonder, what happens when this short season ends and life goes back to normal? My summer began with a team, moving from village to village, but when the team left and everyday life resumed of raising up my family of little people, the excitement and passion of a focused purpose quickly waned. Daily trips to the market for food for dinner, sibling squabbles, diapers, upset tummies, temper tantrums replaced travel and interaction and being seen as important, relevant, needed.

And I wondered, "How now, will they know that I am His?"

When you travel with a mission team, life is a bit different. The standard is set a bit higher and everyone feeds off of each other, for better or worse, and the spiritual air is thick with anticipation of God's movement. With the demands of the mission field, it is know that one cannot survive a day, at least not well, without full reliance on the guidance, grace, and mercy of the Holy Spirit. There is much more reliance. There has to be.

And then seasons shift drastically and the excitement of work well done becomes the mundane of routine. And someone says with the best of intentions, "Just give it some time, and everything will go back to normal."

And somehow it always does, except that it is never quite the same ever again because I'm trying to fit all that my eyes have seen and my heart has absorbed into a box that wasn't prepared for such things. And it just doesn't fit.

What happened when Moses had to come down from the Mountain so beautiful and face so radiant, and deal with bickering, rebellious siblings, and squabbling families, and the chores of keeping the people focused long enough to not build golden calfs and call them god?

He threw his tablets on the ground and stomped his feet in anger.

Yeah, I know that feeling.

How do the passions keep from becoming mere smoldering coals?
Is it that we are to be set apart for a mere short season, a 10-week short-term trip, or set apart for life, day-to-day life lived out in sacrifice and humility and community? And in the "normal" day-to-day of life, what is my role in seeing that the hungry are fed, the thirsty are given water, the orphans are cared for and the widows are loved? What is my role in creating and contributing to community, that they may know that we are one?
And how do we do that when we are all seeking to move away from others, with walls that separate us to preserve our privacy and personal space?

I dont' want everything to go back to normal. I want the radical obedience and wild passion of following Jesus. I just need to know what it looks like.

As we are preparing for the journey back to the states, these are the questions I am struggling with, praying for discernment.
How now shall we live? For the next 9 days, I am pondering this with intensity.

What about you? What are your thoughts on community and humility and grace towards others? 

I have more thoughts to share on those things soon. They are a tornado in my heart right now, moving too fast to make any sense. Hopefully the winds will die down soon.


  1. friend (can i call you that? we share sister-thoughts):
    [And I wondered, "How now, will they know that I am His?"]
    THIS is the cry of my HEART. i want everyone i know to kno wi am his daughter, his princess, and his servant. i want to love others like he loves me. i have no mountaintop experience so to speak, and yet i feel plunged in teh valley sometimes. (can you have one w/out the ohter?)
    and then, this:
    [i dont' want everything to go back to normal. I want the radical obedience and wild passion of following Jesus. I just need to know what it looks like.]
    this this this this this.
    i want living radically to BE my new normal. but i don't even know what that looks like in bt/wn diaper changes and feeding meals. i want to buy fair trade and ethically and i want to adopt a baby and i want to work in the soup kitchen and teach my boys to love w/ their hands and their hearts. how to do all of this?!!?

  2. p.s. does chipotle mean you are moving back to texas? may be audacious and ask where?!!?!?

  3. What a beautiful glimpse into what one goes through when coming back form a short-term mission trip. I have been on several and I feel this way each time. I think it is important to realize that we can't live on a "spiritual high" all the time, but must take what we learn and weave it into our everyday, mundane life. I look forward to reading more. Mi Amor and I are planning to serve in full-time missions soon, so it's nice to read of someone who has the same heart. God bless! :)

  4. As I read your blog I found myself saying yes and nodding my head with every sentence. it has been a little over a year since my 8 weeks in Kenya and I mourn the fact that many things in my life are "back to normal." However I find hope in the parts that have not....the boldness in prayer, the expanded view of God's kingdom, the awareness of community are all lessons learned in part that are still present sometimes. But even a year later I am caught off guard by thoughts about what I saw and heard and felt while I was there. Thank you for sharing and reminding my heart of my Kenyan lessons.
    I'll be praying for you and your family as your transition back.

  5. I have so so so many thoughts on community, grace, and humility. I, too, ponder these things on a regular basis. Please know you aren't coming back to the States to be alone. We can have lots and lots of conversations about these things as you adjust to the next season of your life here in Arizona (yes, we have Chipotle). :) Remember. Moxie means facing difficult circumstances with spirit and backbone. I'm so glad you get to come on the retreat with us!


Thoughts? Feel welcome to share...