If I didn’t know any better, I’d say God still has more to teach me in this life, because things haven’t exactly been going my way lately. Among other things, we’ve had some car issues, and I got sick the other night and missed a couple days of school. I’ll spare you the details, but it was one of those “Which way should I face the toilet now?” kind of nights. Ok, maybe I didn’t actually spare you the details. Much like the people here in Honduras, the viruses are very strong.
I can’t say I’ve been “religious” in my commitment to daily devotional time lately, so maybe that has something to do with it. Sometimes, God has a way of working through circumstances to get our attention to bring us back to himself. Maybe it’s not that quid pro quo. But that’s probably a discussion for another time. Thinking that way can just help me rationalize things. And there’s yet another discussion for another time… or I might just keep that one to myself.
But it’s not all bad… in fact, a lot is really great. Our neighbor has a pool on her property that is filled naturally by kind of a lukewarm hot spring, which is absolutely perfect for the kids and the weather here. All we had to do was clean out the leaves, rinse it all out, throw down some powdered Clorox, and let it fill up. And by “we,” I mean Stephanie and about a dozen kids from the neighborhood. So now we have a natural, beautiful pool we can walk to anytime for free. And that’s incredible timing, because it’s starting to get just plain hot outside, and I haven’t heard one person yet even try to put a mild twist on what the weather is usually like here in April and May… I take that as a significant warning.
So in regard to the car, I’ll admit, I bought a cheap one. We have a 1997 Toyota 4Runner with 160K miles on the odometer, which I don’t think means a whole lot. So I guess this all goes with the territory. But we needed some work done on the steering, so we took it to a shop out of town that also did some brake work, alignment, oil change, etc. Good to go. Except not. About a week and a half later, Stephanie comes to pick me up from school, and says, “There’s something wrong with the brakes.” I get in the car on the hill it’s parked on to test it out and discover that, indeed, she is right. The problem is that there are no brakes. The emergency brake being on was the only thing keeping it from moving, and brake fluid was all over the inside of the front left wheel. I consider it a miracle of God’s protection that she was able to get it stopped there at all. We called our guy, who called his guy, who was able to come up the hill and get the brakes sealed and get us moving, but there was still some work that needed to be done to secure the brake lines properly.
I think in any country, it’s fairly important to have reliable brakes. Maybe that’s just me. But in Honduras, it’s very important, especially when you live 1500 feet in elevation above town, and getting groceries means entrusting your life to a car that is kind of fixed. For about a week, for one reason or another, each day, we couldn’t get the permanent repair done. Now, the brake line was basically in a spot where it might interfere with the suspension, but it should be ok. Maybe that’s ok for a day, but that’s something that even in all my humble graciousness made me increasingly exasperated as time went on.
Finally, I got the car to the shop. I was still kind of sick, and I was trying to explain the problem in Spanish. And by “Spanish,” I mean three or four Spanish words and a lot of hand motions… which is an improvement from where I was a couple months ago with one or two Spanish words and a lot of hand motions. It’s so hard to communicate in Spanish… hurts my brain just thinking about it.
So while I’m doing this, a lady who looks a little down on her luck comes up to us selling stickers. I don’t normally know what to do in these situations anyway, and I definitely don’t know how to deal with them in Honduras, so I follow the mechanic’s lead. He buys a sticker, so I buy a sticker. He doesn’t really say anything to her, which I think is weird, so I try talking to her in my best Spanish. She smiles. Actually, she smiles really big… really really big… oddly big… I’m missing something.
After she leaves, I look at her stickers, and there’s a note on the back of them that says in Spanish please help me out because “Soy sordo,” which google translate told me means “I’m deaf.” She wasn’t smiling at me… she was laughing at me because she knew this gringo couldn’t read Spanish and didn’t know she was deaf. Well anyway, I guess I’m glad it brought her some amusement.
On the way home, brakes repaired, sticker in hand, I was dwelling on how hard it is to communicate in Spanish. Then it struck me abruptly that this is the way I’ve been trying to communicate with God for so long… in a second language in my head… which can be difficult at best (like talking to the mechanic) and utterly ineffective at worst (like talking to the deaf girl). I felt like God was saying to me, “Just talk to me in English, son!” That is to say, talk to me in the native language I put in your heart, which is actually more intuitive to us than even our first spoken language. The whole reason we are here is to fulfill our role in our relationship with Christ and he put inside each one of us a method of communication more rich and robust than even the most sophisticated collection of words in any spoken language. It’s just that the way the world communicates has taught us to smother these divine soulful impulses and trade them for crass, rudimentary words… blah. There’s a language in each of our hearts that has no possibility of miscommunication and no levels of proficiency. Even the most basic utterances we choose to make with it are understood and embraced and redeemed by our loving heavenly father. We just have to talk to him. We just have to want to be there with him. We just have to want to use the beautiful eternal language he blessed us with in order to communicate with him… whatever that looks like for you.
Maybe communicating with God is hard for you to wrap your head around. It is for me. There’s a reason for that… our heads have very little to do with the process. Not that the process doesn’t make sense… it’s just that it does so much more than make sense, that it’s not limited by your little human brain that can run a billion billion calculations per second. Not impressive… regardless of the magnitude of the number, it’s still infinitely smaller than God’s infinite capacity to meet you where you are… wherever that may be.
So I think a little differently as a result of that experience, and I believe the way God wants us to think in every area of life is not exactly traditional, to say the least.
When we are caught up in sin, I don’t think he wants us to focus on “not sinning.” Of course, we should try not to sin, but our focus should be on talking to the God who has power over sin. In that way, don’t let yourself be overwhelmed and anxious every time you fail, but spend time with the one who will never fail you. Your story is so much less about sin’s power over you, and so much more about God’s power over sin, and his great love for you.
And while we’re at it, don’t just focus on whether you’re getting into heaven or not, focus on the one who can bring heaven to earth… now… through you.
We need to stop talking about trying to solve our problems, and instead focus on communicating with the only one who can solve all our problems. You may ask, “Then if he can solve all our problems, why hasn’t he already?” Well, maybe he wants us to grow… or something… I really don’t know… I have the same question. But maybe you should put some of these ideas into practice and just go ask him for yourself.