- posted by mika
i thought i was doing pretty good beating the jet lag - but the sun isn't up yet and i'm wide awake. so, i guess it's beating me right now. it's ok, though. i've been eagerly waiting to have a few min. to stop and process the last few days. we close on our house in just a few hours, so i'm sitting on the floor surrounded by piles of boxes and suitcases... some last min. things we still have to move out. coming home has been wonderful and hard. wonderful to see everyone we love - and hard to pack up life here. i know we've been packing and liquidating for months now, but just now it is starting to sting.
first, i should say that i am SO grateful to God that He sold our house for us! i give Him all the credit for making it happen so quickly - it was on the market for less than 3 wks. and we signed a contract on it in January of all times! so, i'm not complaining at all that this day has come.
i'm just finding this scenario that we are in the middle of very thick to process. we anticipated and prepared for months to go to Africa; we went for 6 short wks and got a good taste; we returned here to become homeless for three months and prepare again to go back. so, at the moment, the close juxtaposition of Uganda and Jackson is making our reality very clear... what we are leaving and what we are gaining. it was weird to pull into our driveway Sat. night, take in all the fresh signs of spring in our yard, and think, "yay, we're home!" but then, there is a sold sign in the yard as well, so it's not home after all. it was great to hop in the car and drive (finally!) just a few miles down the road to Kroger and see all my familiar foods and tempting indulgences... Cadberry eggs, Pillsbury cookie dough, a new Red Box movie to veg with. i refrained from indulging because of the cautioning echo in my head... "you can't get used to this stuff." it was wonderful beyond words to see our church family Sunday morning, just to be where we love and are loved. and i thought how it is one thing to say goodbye for a few weeks and quite another to do it indefinitely.
during the worship service we sang "Take my Life and Let it Be." it's always been one of my favorite hymns. i remember singing it as a teenager, just as earnestly as i possibly could with tears streaming down my face and visions of serving on a foreign field in my mind. (this song has been like my personal anthem of "please, God, let me be a missionary!!!") so, Sunday i sang again with sincerity and tears but, instead of a hazy daydream, a very stark reality in my mind. i think, at this moment, i understand better than i ever have what's on the table when i invite God to "Take my Life."
honestly, the invitation has been fairly easy so far. giving up my stuff and even some comforts hasn't been as difficult as you might think. i, in fact, made a game of it while in Africa. i kept thinking about my childhood heros, the "Boxcar Children," who ran away from a mean orphanage and set up a primitive house in an old, abandoned boxcar. that seemed like a great adventure to me when i was 9 and read the novel for the first time! so, on the tough days i thought, "this is like my childhood dream, and if the boxcar kids can do it, i can too!" i'm sure at this point, you're laughing out loud at my childishness. but it really was a fun game to play... for a few weeks. and i felt noble somewhat giving up my things and amenities, because it is my choice to do so, of course. but all the while, in the back of my mind, i have kept this thought hidden: this is just only a season. i can play this game for awhile in my little concrete apartment, then someday go back to normal life. someday i will have a house again with a dishwasher and rugs and pictures on the walls and a pretty yard. because God understands that i am entitled to this stuff, right?
i am embarrassed to be so honest, but for my own confession i have to be. i have given up a lot of stuff, but i have not given up my entitlement to that stuff. it isn't wrong at all have nice things and live at the North American standard of living. but to feel entitled to that standard just because we are North Americans is a very dangerous assumption to make. i am choosing to give up that standard now, but what happens when it is taken away from me, not by my choice? my entitlement leads me to question God, blame Him, be bitter towards Him... just like Job was tempted to be. i have thought many times that i was doing a good job of relinquishing control and trusting God, but i'm finding that there are layers and layers of my entitlement that have to be peeled away.
Thomas reminded me a couple of days ago of the Scripture in Deut. 14:29 where God explains to the Israelites that the Levites (the preistly tribe) was not to have any part of the inheritance that the other tribes shared, and they could not own their own land. instead, they would learn that God was their portion and provision. i do feel like i relate to that right now, and it is a very humbling place to find myself completely dependant on God and other people. but, even though my entitlement is a very difficult thing to let go of, i do recognize that what God gives in return is SO worth it. the Levites were given an invitation to enter into the presence of God in a way that no one else was given. of course, under the new convenant, God's presence is open to everyone who wants to experience it. but i do think there is level of intimacy in Him that is only found when we relinquish our rights and really let Him "Lord" over our lives. so, please don't mistake my honesty here as being negative. i am closely examining the invitation i'm offering God - and recognizing that it pales next to the one he is offering me!