Every year I have this weird block when it comes to my first post. Like maybe I’m supposed to be coming up with some great inspiring saga to set us all aglow with renewed spiritual fervor. But I have no fantastic stories, no slideshow worthy presentation. So maybe it’s better to just give you what I do have. Reality.
In many ways, that is why this blog exists. The mission field has long been romanticized, run away imaginations filling in where truth eludes us.
As I write these words, I already feel my body trembling. A nervous system whose wounds are barely healed, an inside whose scab gets peeled prematurely again and again…and again. There is nothing romantic about the heart cry, “Lord, why?” for we are just a couple of broken humans trying to reach through our own pain into the heart of Christ and into the lives of those around us.
I feel like that is exactly when the Darkness, an alliance of evil personified, swoops down on us the deepest. The moment there is creative vigor in reaching others, the moment we, like the disciples, awake from our lethargic sleep and see again the glory of Christ, our faith is lifted in mocking ridicule, a sort of laughing stock, a banner of contempt.
What is the answer, then, to this reality? This day to day of physical, emotional and spiritual suffering? There are days admittedly when I’d rather just give up. Homeschooling and housekeeping take enough out of my traitorous lupus-whim-dependent life. Hiding under the covers for an indefinite period seems the most logical. But then, the Darkness wins. And we are children of the light.
So we shake ourselves like a soggy canine and go to a new town with calendars. We hook up our loudspeaker and drive through towns proclaiming the good news of salvation (as opposed to offering vegetables or propane like the majority of slow driving, volume blaring individuals).
We start a magazine. Revista Bálsamo. A balm even to our own hearts as we try to serve others.
We go preach in the open air, in a park. A blessed relief to preach good news, new life and hope in Christ.
We have discipleship gatherings to further strengthen believers, for trials will come as we well know. Is it not our duty then to translate our past into their future, to pass them the hard-earned toolbox stained with sweat and tears?
We hold house meetings. Weekly visitations. May no one say small numbers is for lack of working.
We drive hours and hours to visit groups of believers with no outside support, men and women who carry on year after year.
Like right now. We’re in Oaxaca. On the long drive over, with tired children and a week of meetings ahead on our hearts Darkness infiltrated again. I’m grasping again toward the Light.
That’s why my calves are protesting angrily. I walked to get milk for the kids yesterday morning, down a road shooting the vertical back of a steep hill in the cold 7:30 am briskness that is central Oaxaca. I wanted the fresh air. I wanted the exertion of walking. Back up, my lungs burned, my heart pounded in cardiovascular distress and it was a relief. A relief from the Darkness. To breathe: in 1-2-3-4, OUT 1-2-3-4. The burning, the impossibility of making it back up, a physical enemy to overcome. The air bnb, just another small ascent, forcing myself on and on.
It’s a harsh discipline to choose to carry on. To see February 10th looming the distance. To dread that date the moment the calendar turns. To find again the Darkness cares little for my emotions, to know the Darkness instead finds pleasure in causing more pain. Is there to be then, no peace even in my grief? How could there be, 7 long years later, if even the moments of Damian’s death were marked by the encroaching, voracious Darkness?
As the dates march on, they carry us along swiftly, unmercifully towards not only the 10th, but this discipline of continuing steadfast.
Oh dear friend, do you, too, know this weakness, the trembling, the childlike falling into our Saviors arms?
The joy is that in Him is light and no darkness at all. He is Refuge, Strength, Sun and Shield.
Through Him we can carry on, human frailty perhaps not excluded but made peace with, indeed, analyzed with gratefulness for truly I must decrease so that He alone can increase. Perhaps that is the very reason the Darkness pursues the Light with unrelenting fervor.
As the pioneer toils in unhypocritical patience, as souls are saved, churches formed, disciples established in the faith, there are only two appropriate responses:
Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.
To God be all the glory.
Truly that reality is the best start to any year.