fly the ocean in a silver plane
see the jungle when it's wet with rain
just remember till you're home again -
you belong to me
-jason wade, "You Belong to Me"
Perhaps the all-knowing deity is the only one who can claim the knowledge that, "Jealousy is never satisfied with anything short of an omniscience that would detect the subtlest fold of the heart." I'm learning how this often negative-sounding word has powerful implications of my God's love for me.
How to sum up the past 5 weeks of being "back"? Bolivia seems much the same- as one of my New Zealand friends here appropriately put it, "a million billion dogs on the street that poo in exactly the wrong spot, people throwing non-biodegradable litter out the car/bus window, men that publicly pee in the corner or on a wall...shops that carry absolutely no change, shop-owners that lie to you about carrying absolutely no change...one-way streets that aren't labelled...restaurants that serve you bacteria-infested food that cause dire bodily consequences. It's funny how there are some things that you just don't get used to." Couldn't agree more. And yet this country is remarkably more beautiful than I remember. Perhaps it's the landscape that is breathtakingly raw and dangerous, the man in the grocery store who helps me pick out the best tomatoes each week, the precious girls playing games on our apartment steps, or my middle-aged Bolivian friend who owns the postcard store who not only remembered me but exclaimed, "You came back!" when I first stepped foot back in the run-down shop.
My days consist of loving the job of teaching 12 rough 5th graders, immersing myself in the weighty concerns and needs of my students, taking Spanish classes from the one-toothed wonder Jaime, breaking down walls around the hearts of an eclectic mix of 5 senior girls, learning to love all-Spanish church that has provided such an encouraging body, and escaping every once in a while with some American staff to have a taste of the familiar in a very foreign world. I LOVE living here, truly. And I love how the Lord speaks to me in a myriad of ways through voices and scriptures that are almost painful to receive at times.
I recently asked my students to write prayers to God, sharing their hearts with Him and asking Him to help them in the ways they want to change. Some of their requests were candid and humorous, "to get as tall as a jiraff well not that big but bigger than what I am now I don't feel as tall as I use to," while others were sobering and opened my eyes to their hurt. One student wrote in his developing English, "I whant to help more my mom because my dad is not here," while another simply asked, "for a frend," and yet another confessed, "sory for all the bad things i did and the wones I will do, I need a gide to find my way."
My favorite (am I allowed to have favorites?) prayer was from a Korean student who speaks little English and rarely talks, let alone opens up. "Dear God, I want to grow, grow up and change everything and lern evething of you and I want to think about you and talk to you everyday." Gulp. Needless to say, I was humbled by my students' hearts, the reality and bigness of their struggles, their desire to change, to know Him more, to find Him in all this.
How do I even recap what God has done in my heart through all this? What I feel so strongly that I want to share with you? As I recently read in Mike Mason's The Mystery of Marriage, "What sort of love would it be if our Maker looked on tolerantly and dispassionately as we destroyed ourselves, cutting ourselves off from our own life? For the Lord knows that He Himself is our Life, and His jealous possessiveness of us is thus an expression of the greatest possible concern for our well-being." He quotes St. Augustine, who knew this truth full well when he said, "You made us for Yourself, and our hearts find no peace utnil they rest in You." As Jason Wade sings, "just remember till you're home again, you belong to me." I can travel the world, but I am not to forget that my life is not my own, that "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20), that I belong to a Heavenly Father.
So I've been so convicted lately of how often and easily I choose to withhold love from people. The verse, "For you have not been given a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of POWER, of LOVE, and SELF-DISCIPLINE," (2 Tim 1:7) has been heavy on my mind lately and I've been mulling over it in my heart daily. I've been praying to be humbled, and it's so painful, almost a scraping off effect at times. The other day during our staff devotional, when our principal Jason shared that the father of David, our Bolivian business manager who has been in a coma now for 5 months, recently accepted Christ, I began weeping! I was truly touched that this man was drawn to the Lord through the painful loss of his son, but more than anything, I was so convicted as I heard the Lord whisper to my heart, "THAT is what is at stake. When you choose to withhold my freely given love, eternity is at stake-" and not at all to say that i have any control over people's salvations, but the very thought that I could miss out on being a part of bringing someone into the kingdom of heaven because of my petty selfishness is frightening indeed.
Wow, quite a bit of thoughts I just poured out. Usually I feel that my life lessons here are more concise, easier to package and present. But today I feel really strongly that I need to get this all out there! To encourage those of you who may have forgotten that there is a Jealous and Intimate God who is after your heart. To remind us that when Christ commanded us to love our enemies, he meant nothing short of pouring out our lives for those who will spit in our face. To cause you to live and act knowing that what we do in life echoes in eternity, and that the gospel has been entrusted to us as no meager life calling.
And finally, pray for Tim and I, as he wraps up the last bit of business in the states before heading to Bolivia to join up with me here. Pray that the Lord would continue to richly provide, as He has so faithfully and abundantly, so that Tim and I can finally do ministry here together!