This is dedicated to friends who have taken the call to go into the world literally, either full-time or short-term, including such folks as our dear Hannah, the Z’s, Baby Sister, Madman and his family, the Guatemala team from First Cov, the Barbers, Bubba and his bride, Mr. Z, Wally and the amazing folks from Compassion Int’l, and the whole host of others who have left home to see the world through God’s economy.
Also to that great group of friends, the Living Witnesses, who traveled to Jamaica for 21 days of concerts, and having our eyes opened in ways that stay with us, 30-some years later.
“Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; But he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”
Proverbs 29:18 (ASV)
We need you.
We need what you’ve seen and heard.
We need to be reminded that the Kingdom comes, not just to folks who look like us, who live near us, or who have the stuff we have, but to folks who don’t look like us, who live far away from us, and haven’t even heard of some of the stuff we “can’t live without.”
Some of them don’t speak our language, or they speak our language in ways that we don’t recognize or understand.
(“Hey, mon – take it easy!” – a phrase we heard a lot in Jamaica. I also heard the phrase “Hey fat mon – how much you weigh? Four, five hundred pounds?” I was closer to three than four back then, thank you very much. But, to those folks, I was a sumo. Good times indeed.)
When you get back (or got back, whichever applies…), you’ll be dazed. Then spilling over with sights, sounds, tales, and challenges. Perhaps some of us who haven’t been where you’ve been, haven’t seen what you’ve seen, might get a little impatient with you.
(Dare I use the word “snitty?” Is “snitty” an official word? Is there some dangerous potential for an epic typo in using the word “snitty?” Am I eternally thankful that the Lord chose a proofreading ninja to be my beloved spouse? Oh heavens and great gravy bones, yes…
And so are you. Trust me.)
Truthfully, you’ll probably get a little impatient with us too. Having been through what you’ve been through, you’ll come back to us and our “first world problems,” and you’ll want to yell at us and smack us upside the head, because you’ve seen reality, and returned to the plastic, pretend world that we think is “real,” and you’ll want to scream.
And that’s alright. If you don’t want to yell at us, you need to go back and spend more time in the “real” world, so that you come back ready to be all up in our grills about all the piddly poopy we hold so dear.
See, that produces a couple of good things, that kind of indignation at how “our” world is…
In YOU, it produces patience, as you learn how to communicate the urgency and passion of what you’ve seen, without the head slapping and yelling.
(Right, Baby Sister? Love ya, little one… *insert hand hug here*)
In US, (As in the group of people you return to, not the U.S.A. – though the country I live in could certainly use a big dose of your vision..) it slowly opens our eyes, helps us begin to see God’s world through God’s economy (Thank you Wally, for teaching me that phrase!), and gives us a gentle (or not-so-gentle) butt-kicking into what Kingdom life looks like, right here, right now.
And we need that vision. Just as much as you need the patience to share it with us.
If you think about it, it’s a symbiotic relationship. Not in a gross, parasitic kind of way. Or even a “bird living on the rhino’s back, getting rid of bugs and such” kind of way. Nobody’s chowing down on anybody else’s bugs here.
Unless that’s how they roll where you went / are going / are preparing to go. *whew* Tenses are… well…
(Did you hear about the fire at the circus? It was “IN TENTS!”
Get it? In TENTS?
Say it out loud…
There ya go. Now you’re groaning. You’re welcome. Dumb jokes are always a shout-out to Elder Niecelet and Neffypooh. Always.)
Anyway, back to the parasites…
“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.”
Proverbs 29:18-19 (MSG)
When we don’t see what you’ve seen, we stumble all over ourselves. We’re tripping over furniture in the dark, stepping on Lego bricks, and muttering choice words, keeping them well below hearing threshold, lest they fall upon sleeping ears. We’re fancy like that.
– BUT –
If we who were “left behind” (Note: NOT capitalized, lest the pileup of copyright lawyers be nigh unto deafening…) hear the stories of God at work all over the world, then slowly our eyes open, our hearts open as well, and the body of Christ becomes aware of just how far His hands and feet need to reach.
And every time you encourage us, challenge us, remind us and enlarge our vision, you do the same for yourselves. After all, if we don’t raise the stones, if we don’t tell the stories again and again of how God has moved, how He showed up in marvelous, real, tangible ways, we quickly forget.
“WHAT?” I hear you cry… “After all I’ve been through / am going through / am about to go through, how could I possibly forget how I saw Him at work / see Him at work / will see Him at work?”
Well kids, it’s been 4 years since God totally rewrote my whole story, changed me from the outside in, and reversed my history…
And I forget that on a daily basis.
The phrase he put in my heart right after surgery, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free,” becomes a dim part of my past, a memorable phrase in a song long-forgotten. Those promises, the ReBirth, becoming Tabula Rasa, all the stones that I HAVE raised… gone with the next flush of the biffy.
Only when I re-tell the stories, only when I dwell in the places He has led me, only when I remember that “the old is gone, the new has come,” only then do I live in the “real” world, right here, right now.
Your mileage may vary. But, if I might put my reputation as Cal the Questionable Prophet on the line here, I don’t think it will.
If we don’t remember the stories and tell the stories, we fail to live the stories.
To those who remain, listen. Drink deep the vision of our loved ones who’ve seen things we can only imagine or see on social media. And see the world through God’s economy.
To those who return, tell and live the stories. It’s for your benefit, as much as it is for ours. We all need to tell, we all need to hear, we all need to live the truth of the Kingdom…
God at work. Right here, right now.
“All believers, come here and listen,
let me tell you what God did for me.”
Psalms 66:16 (MSG)