Monday, April 03, 2006

Final Thoughts on Nicaragua

I've been back to the States for over a week now. I just finished entering all my journaling from the trip into this blog so others can fully know what the trip was like. Last Friday, we had a debriefing meeting through the Missions Department at school. It was a somber meeting. We were all a little culture shocked still, needing to find the best way to integrate what we learned into our lives. America is an unique place. We have much more than we need... yet we feel empty a lot of the time, thinking we need more. I've experienced living without much: no hot water (let alone dependable water pressure), no air conditioning, no washing machines, no fancy SUVs with seven seats... I've seen families in the dump, children smiling, happy despite their condition. We all adapt to live and make due with what's available. In the States, though, I feel we feel entitled to more. Maybe we are, not as Americans, but as members of Humanity, entitled to more. I don't know. I think God wants us to be happy. I've seen Nicaraguan who live very happy lives with much less than what we have.
I think America has let capitalism overshadow moral and societal values. We strive so hard to become independent, wealthy and successful, when such pursuits drive us away from family, friends and God. Throughout my journey as a Christian, trying to discern what it means to have a relationship with God, I have had one certainty that is applicable now. I've discovered with absolute assurance that when I think I have life figured out, that I know what's best in a situation, I'm usually wrong, and it usually ends in frustration, pain and failure. It ends that way because I act with my interests in mind, my comfort, my benefit. Many call it "the Fall of Man."
The beauty of God's will (the opposite of selfishness usually) is that in the end, there is benefit for me even though I did something for the benefit of others. It's a most beautiful paradox: that through denying my own preservation, I am freed to preserve others, and in mercy and grace, God blesses me and preserves me because I obeyed. I could have gone through my trip in Nicaragua, keeping a shield up, not letting the kids get too close, protecting my emotions, but then I wouldn't have developed such amazing ties with them. I could have dwelled on the fact that I was sick and hot and uncomfortable, but then I would have missed out on all the fun of experiencing God in the midst of that. I experience God on a daily basis. I feel when He's impressing something on me. God loves his people. The only thing that assuaged my heart in the dump was the fact that I knew God was faithful to have more for those people, a hope of a life with Him for eternity. The truth... everyone of us lives in the Dump. Life is miserable and meaningless apart from being with God. I love the illustration Christ gave to us through his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well. He offered her (and all of us) Living Water, the quenching of all our worldly thirst. It isn't a physical thirst but a spiritual thirst, a soulish thirst. I've tasted that Living Water and so have many of the joyful people in Nicaragua. This water quenches the burn from the smoke we breathe in our dump of a world. The fumes are abundant... our perceived need for comfort, luxury. The waters we drink to attempt to parch the thirst... lust, pride, entitlement, food, television, fashion... all fail. I've drank from every one of those contaminated waters, and still do turn to them, but I've only found Christ to be able to quench the thirst because He freely gives His Spirit of love and unconditional acceptance to us. There is rest in Him. I eagerly await the day I fully understand and embrace that truth.
My trip to Nicaragua affirmed that truth in my heart, something I knew in my head mostly, but forgot in my heart. The life with God close by is hard... it demands us to give up the things which instinctively seem good for us, but in reality bring death and pain. It is only with forfeiting those rights and becoming an obedient, sacrificing servant to God do we find there is true life, abundant life in God, life with purpose and rest from the wickedness of this world.
Enjoy my writings of my trip. I found more of God down in Central America... I hope you find Him through my reflections.

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