Tag Archives: Latin America

Choosing between the Good and the Best

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As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village.  A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.  She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said.  But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen.  Later, she stepped in, interrupting them.  “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me?  Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  One thing only is essential.  Mary has chosen what is the Best and it won’t be taken from her.” (Gospel of Luke 10:38-42 The Message Version)

Every day there are many Good things that vie for our time and attention.  Some of them are important too, like making dinner.  I’m sure if Martha hadn’t made dinner for everyone at some point Jesus would have gotten hungry!  So there are things that SOMEONE has to do because they are the basics of life.  But where we get off track is when we start to treat the basics like they are the most important thing there is.  Sometimes we are in the presence of something or someone far greater than the ordinary- and we need to recognize that.  We should be treating those special moments with greater honor and distinction.  The ordinary has it’s place as “good” in our lives, but when the “best” comes to visit we need to drop everything and spend some quality time right there.

When was the last time you just sat at Jesus’s feet?  Have you lingered around the altar lately or are you always rushing away after the sermon is done?

This is a hard lesson to learn.  I’m a Martha by nature.  If you come to my house I will automatically move to the kitchen to make you something yummy to eat.  That whole relational, spending time with people is something I’ve just begun to learn by living in Latin America.

When we lived in Mexico, getting together with friends often meant spending the whole day together or going for lunch and coming home after dinner.  It was such an ordeal to get anywhere in that city that once you got there, no one was in a hurry to leave.  A “get-together” could easily last 5 hours or more!  That was hard for us Americans to adjust to, but once we did, we found that we could place a higher value on the people we were with instead of on the schedule we were keeping.

Coming back to America, we felt rushed by our old routine of sitting down to the meal the minute we walked in the door and leaving about a half hour after the dessert.  It just felt like it went by too fast.  I missed our Latino way.

The big lesson to be learned here is that Jesus is much more interested in spending time with us than in what we can do to serve him.  I get the feeling that Jesus would have been fine with a more simple bite to eat if it meant that Martha could come and spend time with him too.  Sitting at his feet and hanging on his every word is the Best.  And when we find ourselves in that position, it won’t be taken away from us.

Hindsight… does this dream make my butt look big?

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Leap of Faith

“Staring in the water like Aesop’s foolish dog

Can’t help but reflect on what is was I almost lost

What I thought I wanted, what I got instead

Leaves me broken and grateful.”

~Sara Groves, What I thought I wanted

I had a dream of living in Europe.  I studied 4 years of French.  I seriously thought God was going to call me to Europe as a missionary.  Europe suits me, and I have the wardrobe for it already!  I love the history, the architecture, the art, the cool youth culture.  I just love Europe.  I kept waiting for the Call from the Lord.  It never came.

When I was 17 I was supposed to be attending my high school graduation.  Instead I was spending a month in Europe with my family on a sort of family missions trip.  We spent 3 weeks in Brussels, Belgium working with missionary friends and then tacked on a week in Paris just for family vacation.  I never considered missing my graduation ceremony to be a hardship in the light of Paris!  I was born for that city!

While we were in Belgium we toured Continental Bible College, where I considered studying for at least a year.  As I walked through the buildings with the tour guide, I prayed in my heart.  I asked God, “Well, what do you think?” and clear as the voice of the tour guide I heard God say to me, “He’s not here.”  I knew immediately that he meant my future husband.  I said, “I didn’t ask you about that,” and we didn’t talk about it again.  I went home and applied to North Central Bible College in Minneapolis, my hometown.  I met Josh a few months later and two years later we got married.  What I thought I wanted pales in comparison with what I got instead.

Fast forward to 2003.  We were on a missions trip with our youth group kids.  We knew this would be our last trip.  We had already felt God starting to stir our hearts, change was on the horizon.  But we didn’t know what it was going to look like.  Sitting on a bench on the campus of the University of Mexico UNAM we felt God speaking to our hearts.  “This door is open.  Will you come here and work for me?” he asked.

I thought about my Europe.  I said, “Mexico??  But God, I took FRENCH!  Remember?   Is this one of those times when I say yes to what you want and then you give me what I really want instead?”

No.  Then he took me to the altar of my heart.  He reminded me of all the times I had knelt before him and said, “Lord, send me!!  I’ll go ANYWHERE!  Just send me SOMEWHERE!”

And he asked me again, “Did you really mean anywhere?”

“Yes, Lord.  I will go anywhere you send me.”  I humbly replied.  Europe slipped from my fingers.  And I had the sensation of falling backwards off a cliff and landing safely in God’s hands.  That free fall, stomach in the throat, adrenalin rush that you get just as you jump was me putting my trust in God, knowing that he was going to catch me.  Faith.  A leap of Faith.

Last year I had a very vivid dream.  The Lord was speaking to me.  In my dream the Lord and I were hovering over a globe of the world.  He showed me Europe.  I saw and felt and experienced in one moment everything I love about Europe.  Then the globe spun and I was over Latin America.  The same thing happened, in one moment I saw and felt and experienced everything I love about Latin America.  Then the globe was pulled back a little.  Looking at the whole world, God gave me a choice.  “Knowing what you now know, do you want Europe or Latin America?”  I was being given a choice, a permanent, real choice.

I hovered over the globe for longer than I thought it would take to make this decision. In my dream I cried over the agony of this choice.  Finally I said, “I can’t bear the thought of leaving Latin America.  I love it more than I ever thought I would.  I choose Latin America.”  As soon as I made my choice, the globe was removed from me and I felt that my decision was made final.  I would not be given this choice again.  But oh the peace that flooded my heart!  I knew I would be happy with this decision.

Something deep inside of me resonated like a bell.  There is a part of me that was made to respond to Latin America, and it thrills me to hear it ring like a bell in my heart.  What I thought I wanted was completely different from what I got instead.  And I am happy.  So happy.