Tuesday, May 15, 2012

44 Hours

Three years ago this month I went on my first international mission trip. And it lasted 44 hours.

No, that wasn’t the plan. Our small team from Providence intended to spend five days in Haiti ministering to a group of orphaned children. Instead, I spent one day traveling to Haiti, one day with the children, and one day traveling home. You see, a member of our team became seriously ill on our second night in Haiti, and two of us had to accompany her back home.

As the drama of that event unfolded, it looked like I would be able to stay in Haiti to complete the trip. Then, only minutes before reaching the Port Au Prince airport, I learned I would be leaving too. My bag remained at the hotel; my goodbyes to teammates left unsaid; my hugs to the children not given. Luckily I had taken the sage advice of my husband and had my passport and identification in a pouch around my neck. I was homeward bound.

I confess the days immediately following the trip were filled with grief for what I had missed. For my all-too-brief time with the lovely, loving children. For my inability to “do more.” In time, however, God brought clarity and revealed how much he actually accomplished through that brief experience.

The first lesson I learned prior to leaving for Haiti. You see, I was battling anxiety as I thought about leaving my two young sons to go on such a trip. What if something happened to me? What would happen to them? Who could love them, affirm them, cherish them as I could? As I considered questions such as these, God asked, “Do you trust me?”

My immediate response was, “Yes, of course I trust you.” His reply struck me mute: “Do you trust your children to me? Am I enough for them?” I had to wrestle with that one. Did I trust that if something happened to me the boys would be okay? Did I believe God would care for them and nurture them? In the end, God helped break a stronghold of fear in the heart of this mother.

The second lesson was an insight regarding the qualifications for missioning. Henri Nouwen asks it best: “What is required of a man or a woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times and speak a word of hope?” Recently I revisited my personal blog, where I found this post dated May 23, 2009:
“As children of God, believers in Jesus Christ, and His disciples on this earth, we often find ourselves asking this same question. I know I do. And the word God has kept bringing me back to over these past several weeks is COMPASSION.”
Brennan Manning defines compassion, “The etymology of the word compassion lies in two Latin words, cum and patior, meaning to suffer with, to endure with, to struggle with, and to partake of the hunger, nakedness, loneliness, pain, and broken dreams of our brothers and sisters in the human family.” Manning’s words affirmed my mission and my qualifications for the Haiti trip: “To live in the name of Jesus Christ is to bear the name Compassionate One.”

The final lesson is one I was recently reminded of as I read through the story of Ester. As Ester ponders her situation in the palace of King Ahasuerus and the choice before her, Mordecai says those familiar words, “Who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”

For such a time as this. As we read the Scripture or examine history, we see people who God appoints for certain tasks: Moses, Ester, King David, Paul, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards, Hudson Taylor to name a few. When we think of these giants, we don’t feel adequate, do we? I learned through my trip to Haiti that God does appoint us for certain times and specific tasks, and it doesn’t take a giant to fulfill his charge. Just someone surrendered to his will and obedient to his call. He provides the power.

Looking back, I realize that it doesn’t take five days, five weeks, or even five years for God to accomplish his will. He operates outside of our notion of time. Most often it seems he operates like a farmer, cultivating crops that take time to mature. Yet, if he desires, he can bring forth a harvest in as little as 44 hours.

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