Sunday, May 20, 2012

Nostalgia & Pain - Part II

After finishing this last week with tears, and after further reflection, I realized there was something more.

More to say.

More to chew on.

When my Maasai friend hadn't seen someone in months, he 'greets' for a LONG time. He 'chews the news'. So join me in chewing on some thoughts...

Yes, I dread moving again. Ironic for a missionary. I lost track after 15 moves... It's pure selfishness. Moving takes so much work. Not just physical lifting of boxes. It's the months of goodbyes and hellos, the emotional work of moving that exhausts me.

I used to think it would get easier.

But it doesn't.
Talk to any veteran missionary who has lived in tens of countries.
They will confirm that moving doesn't get easier.
That's not part of the deal.
Stability and familiarity are sacrificed.

Amy Charmichael often writes on themes of sacrifice. [Check out her life if you haven't already.] Her poem 'Hast Thou No Scar?' hit me like a ton of bricks, especially this line:
 "pierced are the feet that follow Me."

Last week as I 'chewed' on sacrifice, this post came to my mailbox. Impeccable timing really. Hard things are good. Good for us like medicine.

Ann writes:
The surrendered accept that pain is always but growing pains.
And growth is always a gift —  even when trials are the tutor.

Wait! Doesn't that mean that pain is essentially a gift?
I could spend a decade trying to wrap my mind around James 1:2

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you
face trials of many kinds..."

Pure joy? Trials?!
It's the paradoxes, the puzzles, in Scripture that make me fascinated, curiously digging for how that WORKS. Then falling on my face in awe, because I will never fully uncover the whole of it. God's ways are so much higher than I can grasp.

During a dark season in my life this song was produced by Indelible Grace, using the words of John Newton from 1779. It is not fast, but the words require reflection. Note: The end is the best, but it won't make much sense if you don't go through each verse in order.

Those were dark days for me, but God used them greatly and I wouldn't trade them to go back to where I started out. I needed to go through them to get to today, and I am truly thankful for the difficult things (at least in retrospect).

So how are trials a cause for pure joy? Knowing they grow us should be cause for joy. But even when I can't see or even imagine ahead to the good, I can remember that I follow in the footsteps of wounded feet.

The scars and sacrifices are gifts of devotion. When something hurts. When my kids bear the wounds of moving away from friend after friend. When my wedding momentos are lost by the airline. When we get tropical illnesses that may never heal. When we can't attend a family funeral. Life hurts.

I imagine boxing up all this pain. The pain of what is missing. I box it up carefully tucking it in, put a pretty ribbon on top, and lay it at my Savior's feet. Lord this hurts, but I have given it up for You. Please accept this gift. Gifts worth giving have to cost you something, right?

Honestly, I recognize the grief and grit of moving across the world over and over are not among the most painful things on earth. It's not cancer or violence. My gift looks small compared to others.

But you don't have to have the biggest gift at the party to give one. 

Whatever little sacrifices you are making?

They are beautiful gifts too.

1 comment:

Mrs. bradlie said...

May we all come to our Lord with such lovely gifts, for he would be well pleased.