I brace myself for the two questions that follow me everywhere:
(1) How did it go? (2) What did you miss the most?
I smile and answer the same way each time:
(1) Great! Nothing I expected, but everything I hoped for.
(2) My family, of course, and the overabundant American availability of cheese.
It sounds silly, I know. We always laugh a little afterwards. But it’s true. If you’ve been away for an extended period of time, you recognize both the questions and the unfortunate inability to answer them accurately. How do you explain in a fifteen second conversation the intricacy of a new life? The plain truth is that you don’t. You can’t. So, you tell the truth in snapshots.
Returning home is a funny thing. I am so grateful for a place and a people that welcome my return with open arms; that catch me after the pull of the calling recoils and launches me back to the living rooms and back roads and church hallways that have been a part of building me. But it’s still strange.
I have written about it before. When I boarded the plane in January on my one-way ticket to Guatemala, I wondered if I would ever feel at home in a house I didn’t know with strangers that were not yet even friends. But as I buckled myself in, I heard His promise, simple and steadfast. I will meet you in the whispers.
Two months ago, curled up on the back patio with a cup of Morgan’s diesel coffee and stellar view of the volcano, I stumbled across a verse at the end of Isaiah that made me laugh out loud. Are you kidding me? I asked Him. And He just smiled, the crow’s feet near His eyes revealing His delight. It reads like this:
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your
habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right
and to the left…” (Isaiah 54:2-3 ESV)
I remember His whisper over the last six months. In moments that were heavy and moments that were light. Make more room. Make more room. Dear one, let me make more room.
There have been many moments, many conversations in these last six months when the easy choice would have been to give up. Would have been to hold back. To censor myself. To pretend. To emotionally check out. To leave. But I remember His voice, and the interesting point is that this thing was always an invitation. The choice has been mine all along – would I go in the first place? Would I stay? Would I trust Him? Would I choose the growth or shrink back from it? Would I toss this season away or would I embrace it for all it was worth?
And I will tell you a secret that has changed the way I understand obedience.
A broken yes is still a yes. So I gave Him all of my tiny, fractured pieces—a bloodied yes tangled in whispers. And just like He promised, He met me right there.
That chapter in Isaiah continues:
“Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied;
I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise
Lay your foundations with sapphires
Construct your towers with rubies
Your gates with jewels,
All your walls with precious stones.
You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness
far from any trouble – nothing to fear!
far from terror – it won’t even come close!”
(Isaiah 54:10-12, 14 The Message)
I have felt it over the months: the pressure, the pain, the movement from the contractions that were making room for new life to come forth. And I see now that what I thought was impossible has indeed come to pass.
The Lord called me to Guatemala these last six months to begin rebuilding my foundation. From where I stood in January, all I saw were smoldering ashes. Today, I am starting to see the jewels.
For those that gave, for those that prayed, thank you will never be a wide enough phrase on its own. But it’s all I have, so I pray that in it, there is enough room to carry what I mean to say:
Your obedience to the Lord through your investment in my life and ministry has brought immeasurable restoration to me. Thank you. Thank you for sowing into my heart and my healing, as well as for sowing into my future ministry. It has, quite simply, changed everything. And for that, I am infinitely thankful.
As I prepare for a new season of ministry in Guatemala, one that is founded on the healing kindness of the Father’s love, I could not be more excited to see how He moves. I am eager to serve alongside you in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to this little bit of earth. He is indeed building a new city just as Scripture has promised, and it is deep inside each of us.
It is my prayer that as we each continue our journeys that we could continue holding up each others’ arms and giving the Lord our yes; whether battered and bruised or dancing and delighted, may we trust Him in every season and every calling. Friends, He is faithful.
With all my love,