Control, Understanding, and Hope

Control, Understanding, and Hope

I feel like our plane just landed back in Honduras after Christmas, but it’s been over a month and a half… an absurdly busy month and a half.  We have a couple days off school this week Thursday and Friday, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.  I know many of you who aren’t teachers lack sympathy for me, and that’s fine… I’m ok with it.  I also understand people may lack sympathy for me if I chose to complain about the cold 55 degree weather we had to endure in January, so I won’t bring it up.  Because now, it’s more like 75 degrees most of the time, so I just won’t complain or rub it in about how beautiful the weather is here right now.  And I won’t mention how if it gets closer to 80 in town, it can be a little too warm, but our house is up the hill another 1500 feet in elevation, so it’s always just perfect there.  I won’t bring it up.

If it makes you feel any better, there are some trade-offs to life here, though, and that includes occasionally having a lot of air in your water pipes.  It’s not the end of the world, except that the way you get hot water in the shower is based off a little heating element that is wired right into the shower head.  And this heating element only kicks on when it senses sufficient water flow.  And then when there is a lot of water flow, it’s not nearly enough heat to warm the water.  So the last couple days, we’ve taken showers that are marked by periods of slow trickles of warm water, great rushes of cold water, and brief moments of no water, all in rapid succession with no indication of what’s coming next.  It’s one way to get yourself going in the morning.

So since Christmas, we’ve been hard at work at school and at the clinic.  At school, we just finished the second quarter.  I’m beginning to understand Spanish just a little bit, precisely when I don’t want to understand what 15 year olds are talking about… just before Valentine’s Day.  “Tiene novio?”  “Quien es?”  A few feet away, in the midst of giggles, students are asking each other who they’re dating, presumably because they think I don’t know what they’re saying.  This time, I almost wish I didn’t.

At the clinic, five weeks in a row of medical brigades wrapped up a couple weeks ago.  Stephanie was busy, and extremely helpful for the teams.  There were actually some teams that were cancelled over travel concerns, but because she was there, they were able to keep doing surgeries with a smaller crew than expected.  There were even some seniors from the school that got a chance to be translators for some of the medical teams that traveled to some villages around here.  And there is also a likelihood of more brigades coming in May, which is possible partly because of Stephanie being here and being able to facilitate some logistics.

And as for the kids, they are both learning Spanish at an unbelievable rate.  They can speak fluent little-kid Spanish with their friends, and it’s so cool to watch.  I can understand what they’re saying, but I can’t really contribute to the conversation because it’s so fast.  Evie especially is a natural.  I knew she was doing great, but then one day she fell down and hurt herself and was basically crying in Spanish with her little Honduran friends around.  I think she’s using a different part of her brain to learn than I am.  And a few weeks ago, Sam switched from going to school half days to attending for whole days.  I noticed a major change in him for the better, because I think he thrives on structure and predictability.  I’m just not sure where he gets that from.

I think it’s that structure and predictability in our lives that gives us a sense of control, and often a false one.  Just because I know how the work week is going to go doesn’t mean I’m in control of my eternal trajectory.  Coming back to Honduras after Christmas has not been the same as coming to Honduras for the first time.  This time, I thought there were more knowns than unknowns.  There was a greater sense of structure and predictability.  There was a greater temptation to get a false sense of security from thinking that I was in control.

But, I think I was able to recognize that, at least a little bit, and let God teach me what he had for me.  I’m sure like many others, I go through periods of growth and closeness with God and periods of misunderstanding and distraction.  I think God is helping me to level those out.  I’m learning what it’s like to live where feelings and situations don’t alter my view of God, but rather reinforce and enhance it.  I feel that I’m gaining a greater understanding of God… but not by figuring him out in my head… it’s more by letting him speak to my soul.

Even as I feel a greater understanding of God, I find him more difficult to explain in words.  And I think that says less that God is beyond logic and reason and more just that our human language lacks the sophistication with which to properly describe our Lord.  Our powerful, loving, forgiving God who is full of grace, compassion, empathy, and understanding.  Our Lord who invented these concepts to which we haphazardly assign empty words nearly devoid of the eternal meaning intended to be behind them.  Sure, they are useful in conversation, but I’m not sure that they really even scratch the surface when we use them to attempt to describe our God.

We don’t even have the capacity to totally grasp the goodness of God mentally.  And we certainly don’t have the capacity to be in “control” of our lives.  It’s only when we give up that control to God that we can even begin to understand what that means.

We don’t grow in our faith by narrowing our field of vision to things we can control.  We don’t nourish our souls by clenching our fist more tightly around our limited idea of faith.  We don’t do ourselves any favors by pretending like it’s our job to save the universe and everyone in it.  We may want to, or even feel that we should be able to… but we just can’t… and thank goodness that’s a job reserved for our Savior.

And we’re not admitting defeat when we recognize our limitations.  Quite the opposite, actually.  In humility, we must take our rightful seat at the table that was set out for us before the beginning of time.  We must trust God to be who he promises to be, and know that when we commit to him faithfully in the limited roles he has prepared for us, that he intends to use those for both the advancement of his kingdom, and our own great inner peace and joy… purposes for which he felt the need to create us in the first place… to share in his transcendent peace and inexpressible joy.

Although it’s not always easy, I’m glad to let God worry about the big stuff, and I can walk with him in faith and maybe even get something little done once in a while.  We just bought some desperately needed new tires for the car, and I went to Santa Rosa last Saturday to get some more repairs done.  Santa Rosa is a bigger town about an hour’s drive from Gracias, and it’s of special significance because both the clinic and the school just opened operations there.  The clinic has a small office there now, and the school is going to have an elementary school there next year.  Pray that God guides these efforts, and that while his love is spread through healthcare and education, that not only bodies and minds would grow, but that souls and spirits would grow closer to him.

I think our family came to Honduras under the guise of humanitarian efforts, and that’s wonderful… but God has shown us over and over that there’s more that he has for us all.  These earthly lives are important and meaningful, but they’re merely a dim reflection of the eternal glory he intends to share with us.

In Luke 7, John the Baptist sent a couple of his disciples to ask Jesus if indeed he was the one they had been waiting for.  Jesus told the men, with a sort of oddly-ending crescendo, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.”  As though the healing of the natural body, even the raising of human life from the dead was somehow less impressive than this idea that hope can be given to the hopeless when we proclaim the peace of Christ to their souls.  The body won’t last.  Hope is forever.  The message of the hope of Christ gives us the peace we can’t possibly wrap our minds around, and the joy we can’t possibly keep to ourselves.  There is indeed much that God would like to bless us with in this lifetime, but there is also an incomparable promise that we’ll just have to wait a bit longer for him to fulfill when we finally see him face to face.

One thought on “Control, Understanding, and Hope

  1. I can’t tell you how much these words nourish my soul. After I finish reading this, I feel like I have worshiped the big God I know through the revelation of your words. Thank you, Luke!

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