Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nica Life Inspires

I've been strangely absent.
It's been one of those times where I just needed to retreat... partially because I've felt like I had nothing important or good to say and partially because the thought of writing felt exhausting.

But, I'll try.
I just got back from Nicaragua and after trying to catch up on the little sleep I got over the past few days, my thoughts feel just as incoherent as before. After all we did and experienced, one thought keeps looming through my head:

I don't really know how to be a Christian. 

While we weren't on a 'mission trip' per se, many of our interactions and choices were fueled by a desire for the Lord to use us. We prayed together early on that we might be willing to sacrifice the things that we want for the sake of the Gospel and that we would be willing to be bold when necessary. It led us into countless conversations that we'll never know the fruit of (or if there was any).

I come back to one conversation I had quite often, mulling over its meaning. A conversation that drifted late into the night (for me, anyway)... a conversation with a drunken cynic who had his own thoughts on the Church and how Christians ought to be doing things different. As he read into my stiff and 'uninviting' body language, called out my 'Christianese' and superficiality, and remarked on the multitude of Christians who enter college only to wind up far from truly following Jesus... I couldn't help but think he was right.

He was right.
I was uncomfortable at times, partially because this guy I had only just met was pretending like he knew me...and partially because the scene wasn't one I enjoyed being in. It was a scene I didn't exactly know how to function in. Which, I think, was kind of his point.

That I can play the Christian card quite well among other Christians... I can talk the talk, walk the walk... but what happens when I'm absolutely immersed among those who don't care about Jesus? What happens to me then? I often feel out of place, insecure, judgmental, sad...

But the enlightening part about this trip was that we were stuck at a resort with all kinds of people for days and days....and even the ones who we were only overlapping with for a few hours, we were in such a magical land of tourism and foreigners and being bound together by language commonalities... it was inevitable that we would get to know people. We made friends. Because beyond the scenes that I was uncomfortable with, I was reminded that people are still people. And we met fascinating people with fascinating reasons for being in Nicaragua.

I guess I was just reminded that I don't really know what I'm doing...and that maybe it's okay. That even as I interact with people and search for opportunities to share the Gospel and pray for boldness to actually do it... there's not an exact science to it. There's not a step-by-step formula of what it should look like, of what it has to look like. I can have a conversation with an inebriated fellow about predestination, and the Lord might do something with it. We can talk to a local man in a poor developing country and encourage him to do something for the prisons that break his heart, and the Lord might stir up passion in Him to act.

But it takes being among people to have those conversations...
and I guess I fear that I too often, in my daily life, avoid the uncomfortable scenes....or even just scenes that I don't enjoy. And maybe, I'm realizing yet again, that there's something incredibly beneficial to stepping out and being among people who are not like me. So often I want to cling to what I know, to people who are just like me... and maybe I need to be more willing to branch out, to be the minority in what I believe in... and to be bold as I interact with others.

I honestly don't know what that looks like right now as I'm in a season of transition, heading toward yet another Christian community. But I do know that I don't want to be limited to that, confined to it, and get too comfortable there.

I want to know people.
To be willing to build relationships with people, not simply because we decided to stay at the same surf ranch for five days in a different country....but because they matter.

More than my own comfort, more than my own desires, more than me...
and when I'm willing to try to get to know people?

The Lord surprises me.
And for that I am thankful.
So even when I don't necessarily know what this Christianity thing is all about or how to do it 'right'? I know that He is faithful, that He is leading, that I can't really mess it up.

My time in Nicaragua was strangely inspiring... as were my fellow travel companions.
And while I'm not necessarily urging you to go out and party and forget Christian community (because there's an obvious need and importance for that)... I am encouraging you to consider how often you're interacting/seeking to know those outside of that community. I am urging us all to be more willing to enter into the world... a world that's often uncomfortable and not what we 'approve' of, but a world that's very in need of Christ's love. A world that is desperately searching to fill voids and emptiness with everything but Him.

So even when it's not our 'scene', even when you have no idea what you're doing... I pray that we be diligent and good stewards of what we've been given, walking confidently in knowing that He is faithful.

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1 comment:

  1. Debbie,
    Thanks for this great reminder. I have often thought of these same things and wonder about how easy it is for me to stay in my comfort zone and not engage in the world around me.
    As I read through what you had to say, a thought came to my mind of what it would look like to go out into uncomfortable situations, but with at least one other person who does share my faith. I think the Bible has a lot of examples where Jesus sent out his disciples and others in pairs or small groups.
    I think that's awesome that you had the chance to take this trip and that you learned so much.