The video showed thousands of them. Thousands and thousands of people bowing, over and over again to gods who couldn’t see them, hear them, care about them, save them. The candles floated out to sea on a lucid river, flickers of hope in the dark night. Tiny beacons in the night.
I wept. For the lost the world over who would never hear, never know, never experience true hope and the Light of the World. I cried for two days straight. Not only about that, but about many other things too. Weeks earlier I had prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His, and here He was, answering my prayer. I was broken to bits that weekend.
At the end, we were asked to write on a bit of paper something that we would take with us. Something we had learned. That was easy. God impressed on me to educate myself, to learn about needs around the world and to learn how to lovingly and redemptively meet those needs and point toward the Great Redeemer.
The bit of paper was also to hold something we were leaving behind. That was harder.
It soon became clear just what it was that was holding me back. I knew I had to leave behind the deep dark demon of fear. Fear had paralyzed me all my life. Fear of failure, mostly. But it played itself out in so many different ways. I feared failure, but I also feared even trying anything lest the thing I tried would not be exactly the right thing. What if there would have been something better that I had overlooked? What if I did more damage than good? What if I didn’t know how to reach out while preserving the dignity of those I was serving? What if…? What if…? Fear was stealing the life right out of me. Fear was holding me hostage in all its chains and shackles.
And then, would we come up to the front and share what was on our paper? Really??? My legs were sticks of Jello, all shaky and wobbly. I walked up there as if I walked on stilts, even though my legs felt like Jello, and I left it all up there. My fear, my wanting to be perfect, my not wanting to fail, my not trusting God to do His work through me in spite of me.
I had been wrecked before. Close to a year before this I had been wrecked, all the props knocked out from under me. I lost what I did, who I thought I was, everything I had known for most of my life. But now I was really wrecked. Completely undone.
It’s been a journey of untangling the mess, winding the threads up neatly, and back to unraveling again. First of all, untangling the life I had built on quicksand, then winding up the threads into a neat little ball of proper priorities and what living in the bubble could look like, and back to the unraveling of my comfortable little life for the messiness and brokenness of the world that Jesus calls His disciples to. And I think that maybe I will never see that tidy little ball of threads again. Because the wreck has been too great this time.
And the fear… sometimes I find it lurking in the corners of my heart and mind, sometimes in the shadows of the brightest day. But God, holding me firm in His hand helps me to trust that what He asks me to do will be okay even if there might have been a more perfect way. I have learned to a small degree that it is better to do something poorly when God is in it than to do nothing at all. He gives me grace to bumble my way through messy stuff, and He gives me much grace to own my mistakes, my imperfections and to keep putting myself out there in spite of myself. And… He gives me grace to make things right when I don’t it as well as I could have.
What holds you back? And what would it take to leave it all behind?