So 2017 turned out to be the most difficult year of my life… BY FAR. If you had told me exactly what I was going to need to do to get through the year, I really may have chosen a different path. However, that does not mean I regret it; rather, the opposite is true. I’m so glad it was exactly as it was. I’m filled with joy at the opportunities for growth that were put in front of myself and my family. I’m overwhelmed by peace as I look back on how God sought to use this year to bring me and my family closer to him. More and more, I think that this life is less about what we accomplish, and more truly about our journeys of progress toward the heart of our creator.
You’ve probably heard Robert Brown’s quote that “… a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” The Bible has its own, albeit differently faceted, version of this sentiment in 1 Corinthians 15:19: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”
I really like talking about our God in a way that indicates his desire to bring heaven to us on earth… right here and now. But the fact is that that isn’t the whole story. As long as we remain on this earth, there will always be unimaginable and inaccessible glory that can only be revealed to us in heaven. It’s too much for this earth. It’s too much for our mortal minds to comprehend.
What we do have now is the journey toward that glory. And the journey toward a goal isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always look like we want it to. It’s hard, and messy, and we don’t know what the outcome is going to be. But then, doesn’t that make the goal so much more precious when it is reached? God’s glory is our ultimate goal, and we can only do our best to work toward it in this lifetime.
But we have an all-powerful advantage in that work… his Spirit is here to help us. However messy the journey, he is there to help us, even to carry us, along on the journey. We just need to ask for his help. When God’s heavenly aspirations for our lives exceed our grasp, his Spirit is there to guide them back into reach. If only we humble ourselves and admit our need for help, it will be there in abundance.
So for as difficult as this year has been, it’s taught me to be ok asking for help. That’s such a big part of the plan for our lives, that it’s absolutely essential.
And as we look toward the future, we’re gonna need to ask for more help. We are now making plans to return to Honduras for the 2018-2019 school year. From what we can discern, that’s where God wants us… so that’s where we’re gonna be.
So guess what… it’s time to ask for more help… first from God, and then from you. This is where we say, “We could not do this without the financial support of our donors,” which is true, but really means we want to ask you to prayerfully consider giving us your money. But for what? It’s really for flights, insurance, rent, groceries, utilities, and snickers bars, among other things. There are many good reasons why that we could explain, but let me just give you a couple quick stories about some real students.
One day, I was teaching 11th grade chemistry, and it was going particularly well. Students were engaged and asking relevant questions about the new material we were covering. At the end of class, one young lady honestly admitted, “Mister… I actually wasn’t going to pay attention today, but then it was just so interesting.” Awesome… I suppose I’ll take that as a compliment. So that’s just to say, that there are really moments in the classroom when the subject matter comes alive and gets people excited about learning. If we can do that with Chemistry, then I trust that God has big things to communicate to these students through me, and I plan to keep at it.
Another day at lunch, I was talking to a couple young men from 10th grade biology, and we had what I thought was kind of a fun conversation about some new technology in the field of biology, and the underlying implications as technology advances and brings up new ethical questions for mankind to consider. I finished my lunch and went on my way. Then the next day, one of them asked me, “Mister, can we talk again at lunch another day?” Yes, yes we can. I took that as a huge compliment. Starting with the class material, now we’re forming a relationship and just looking to spend time together, without an agenda.
That’s legit… that is the beginning of the kind of relationship Jesus wants with us. No agenda, just more of him. This is the kind of thing that was happening in John 1 when a couple disciples are following Jesus around for no real reason, and he’s like “Hey, what do you want?” They say, “Um, well, I mean… where are you staying?” Good one, guys. Way to play it cool. At this point (probably truly before this point), Jesus recognizes that they just want to be around him, and he says, “Great, come with me and you’ll see.”
So I want to hang out with Jesus more. And I think he wants me to hang out with my students some more. I think he wants me to show them his love some more. And I even think that in doing so, Jesus is gonna spend some more time with all of us, and that sounds pretty cool to me.
And Stephanie has continued to be an absolute blessing to the people around her. Her work at the clinic has been extremely helpful to the Honduran staff every day, as well as to the brigades that come into town, and there’s five weeks of them coming up in January and February. It’s busy, but it’s really pretty awesome to see from this side. And there have been at least three major medical needs among the American staff just during the time we’ve been there already, where her experience has brought not only the right answer to the problem, but also comfort and security to those involved. My own bedside manner is somehow not as much of a blessing to people.
So… here’s the scoop. We have approximately the same budget for next year as this current year, although it’s a little less because we got some house set-up stuff out of the way. I’m not gonna put our budget on here, just because I think it can be misinterpreted without context, but I would gladly have a conversation with anyone about it. If you feel uncomfortable giving for any reason, don’t… that’s ok. We still want you to be involved with our lives through these updates and in other ways, and we ask for your prayer. Through you, God provided basically the exact amount we have needed for this year, and if he’s in this (which I do believe he is), I’d faithfully and graciously expect the same thing for the next school year.
To give, you can follow the links on this site or go right to https://www.modernday.org/field-workers/lukepatrick2/, and follow the instructions to give there. You can sign up for a small recurring donation, which would be awesome, or you can give a one-time donation, which would also be awesome. You can also mail a check made out to “Modern Day” to PO Box 535578, Grand Prairie, TX 75053, including a note indicating it’s for us. And remember, the GOP wants you to give today so you can take the deduction in 2017 instead of missing it in 2018. Don’t look at me like that… I didn’t pass the law. I’m just the messenger. If you want to talk to a real messenger, though, maybe consult your tax professional, because, for better or worse, that whole thing is kinda crazy.
Whatever you end up doing, thank you so much for reading this and for being there for us. We love you because God first loved us, and we continue to strive to follow him on this wonderful journey toward his glory.