I had a friend recently email me and say that he enjoyed the newsletter and reading about our progress, but he often wondered how things really worked out, how they looked on the ground, in the community of Christ that we are working in. That is a good question, if more than a little difficult to answer, but it is a very appropriate question as we review the last year and get ready for 2013. How are things REALLY going?
This last year has been hard, and messy, and well…life. We have made big transitions, learned a lot about ourselves, and started many new things (Liz would probably say I have tried to start too many new things). As we have returned to Tanzania with new roles, new jobs, and a new family we have experienced that things are different and we have had to adjust to our new everything. In this adjustment I, at least, have grown distant to our first call and the thing that brought us all this distance in the first place. I have found myself being less patient with my family, the community I live in, and even the people I am called here to serve. My sense of service has diminished and my sense of entitlement (shouldn’t I be recognized for all we are doing) has grown. Yet this inward focus is not the type of love we originally came here for. We came because of love for others, love for the community we hoped to experience, and love for a God that calls us to follow Him with our actions and put him and others before our own desires for the comforts of this world. In the midst of all of the good and bad, smooth and rough happenings in our lives lately, this one most important thing may!?! have been lost.
However, this realization, this stop and think peek of a wonderance, has also lead to many good discussions about our new year and our goals for 2013. We have both agreed that this love for others and for God needs to be renewed in our lives. That this original and sustaining call in our lives needs to go back at the top of the list of considerations when we look at our schedule, our plans, our lifestyle, and any new projects we look at this year. We have become good at looking at our resources, our time, and the ability of those around us to carry out plans and projects. In doing all of that though we may have lost in the shuffle, the biggest question we should be asking, “Can we do it with love?” This may seem like a sappy or overly Christian question, but it is the difference between starting a program and actually helping others; it is the difference between working with someone and being in community with them; it is the difference between burnout and sustainable ministry in what can at times be a hard place.
Our prayer for 2013 goes something like this…
Lord, I repent of the times in the last year that I have failed to show your love, even through a kind work or greeting.
I pray for your help in this coming year, to focus on loving your children and your creation. When this becomes hard or starts to interfere with my life, help me to not draw back from the task of love, but to change my life to be more consistent with your will for it.
Please pray with me.