So I last wrote about how normal things felt here, and how we felt as though we maybe hadn’t accomplished a whole lot yet. Now, things still feel “normal,” but holy cow, are we busy.
We opened a bank account, moved into a new house very close to the national forest, explored said national forest, traveled to La Union (where there is another Abundant Life school), tried to get to El Salvador (but the road was washed out, so we spent our time in a nearby town instead), had a birthday party for Sam, started teaching or nursing or attending school (depending on which family member you are), got into a Wednesday night Bible study, found a church to attend, and started struggling through conversations in Spanish. I’m sure there’s more I forgot. It’s all a blur. My brain hurts.
And through it all, God is teaching me new things… new things that I thought I already knew. He is with us, he alone can sustain us, he goes before us, and he is even more precious and important than we can imagine.
He is with us:
I had planned on bringing two laptops to Honduras… the one I had from Broadmoor Motors and then my personal one. Problem was, my Broadmoor computer crashed and died on my last day of work there in July. It has since been repaired, and I’ll get it back eventually, but I only ended up bringing my personal one to Honduras. One night, I was working on schoolwork here when it crashed. And wouldn’t come back on. I tried to reboot it a couple times, and it wouldn’t boot. Being here without a computer wouldn’t make life totally impossible, but pretty close. So I did the absolute last thing anyone should do in any situation… I prayed. I prayed for God to fix my computer. I put my hands on it, and I prayed like a weirdo for God to fix my computer. And, well… he did. I hit the power button once more, and it came back on. Didn’t change anything else… just prayed. You don’t think God can fix computers? Well, I’m just saying… mine works now.
He alone can sustain us:
I have felt that the prep for my schoolwork has been a lot. Not completely impossible, but significantly more time and effort than I had anticipated. I have 6 different classes and I teach 29 out of 40 periods per week. My feet hurt from standing. I have a new appreciation for teachers everywhere… wow. So as I got into it, I focused on, “Ok, let’s do this. How am I going to do this?”
See the problem there?
I should have said, “Ok, let’s do this. God, how would you have your work accomplished through me?” Because the fact is, I can’t do it. I can’t do it alone. I can’t even do it with the much-appreciated support of friends and family and coworkers. I especially can’t do it when Stephanie leaves for a week to go to Tegucigalpa to help one of our friends who needed wrist surgery after falling from a ladder. That was this past week… just me and the kids and school. I would say it’s a miracle that we three made it out alive, because it is. I suppose it beats having wrist surgery… barely. The point is that I can only do it with God sustaining me through it. And when he sustains you, he also gives you peace, and satisfaction, and contentment, and joy.
He goes before us:
When I try to do it on my own and fail, I get frustrated. When I let God into my efforts and “fail,” I realize the plan must be different than what I had expected. I had a physics quiz planned for last Friday, and I just needed to make copies of it. Unfortunately, the power was out all day Thursday for scheduled maintenance. No problem, I’ll just get copies in town. Except all the copy places were closed because their power was out, too. “Welp, I guess it’s time to show up for school and look completely unprepared for the first time… that didn’t take long.” So while I worried about what other people were going to think of me, I think God was almost laughing at me. I know he was at least smirking. The seniors ended up not having a physics period that day, because they used the period to prep for social work that they do with another school in town. Throughout the year, they go teach English to younger students at a nearby public school. We couldn’t really have done the quiz anyway.
So even the work that God has called “me” to do needs to have him in it. I need to invite him into it every day. I just can’t do it on my own. None of us can. And none of us should. We were created to engage in a defining and daily relationship with Christ. He’s there to help, but we must invite him to do so every day, moment by moment.
He is unimaginably precious and important:
And finally, I’m catching on to the infinite gravity of this whole Jesus thing. If we were just here to teach and to give medical care, we would just be doing good works. And they are great pursuits which I do not want to detract from in any way. But God has been teaching me that our first priority here is to both experience deeply and share unapologetically the love of our savior Jesus Christ. The way we do that is through teaching and medical care. My high school soccer coach Denny Weaver used to tell us after every practice, “Live for Jesus. It’s all that matters.” Twenty years later, that’s beginning to sink in. Now, I try to tell my students that at the end of every week. I forgot to tell my ninth graders that last Friday, and when I remembered to tell them this week, they called me out on forgetting last week. I think that’s a good thing.
Sometimes we need a verbal or physical reminder of his presence. In case you didn’t know, it’s hot here. Sometimes, the miserable kind of hot where you just don’t want to be in the sun at all. So as we had a school assembly the other day, and I found myself standing in the sun in long sleeves with a tie on, I didn’t necessarily love being there. Then, as we prayed, I felt the warmth of the sun on my face, and something was clearly revealed to me. If we spend too much time focusing on the negative aspects of our circumstances, we’ll miss the goodness and the greatness that God has to offer us through them. This isn’t some delusionally optimistic line of thinking, but rather a real and transformative spiritual perspective we can choose to live out. If we choose to dwell on the intense negative heat of our circumstances, we’ll miss the life-giving, joyful warmth they provide through God’s presence in and through them.
I guess I’ve had these lessons as of late because I didn’t really know all these things as well as I had thought. Growth is one of those things of which the idea sounds so much better than the actual process feels. We all want to grow, but not too quickly. We all want to improve, but not if it means having to work hard. We all want to be better, but not if it means having to change.
Well, we don’t really have to worry about those things if we let God lead the growing, improving, changing. Yeah, it might stretch us a little bit (or a lot), but it’s not up to us to set the goals and reach them on our own. Our only responsibility is to listen and learn and be faithful along the way. As we do, we will learn so much about the beautiful, forgiving, unpredictable, exciting, delightful character of God, through the guidance of his Spirit, and the grace of his son Jesus Christ.