We all sit around, most more disheveled than usual. It’s been five weeks since we’ve all been together in the same room. We all still look the same, but the reality is that we’ll never be the same again. The jungle has changed us.
We share our stories. About some we laugh and smile. About others we cry. There is brokenness here today. We have all dealt with aching bodies, and many of us with aching hearts.
I listen as brothers and sisters tell their stories. Stories of sickness and isolation, loneliness, frustration and confusion. Their own hardships, unquestionably unique to and dare I say created for them. This orientation course wasn’t designed to break us- that’s all God’s doing. You see, God is breaking down our roughened places and making way for beauty. Smoothing out the bumps- he knows exactly where they are. And it hurts.
I think back to the beginning of this journey about the decision we made to place our children in the Father’s hands. I think about how we’ve given up so much, so much of what we hold dearest. We gave up comforts and ease and control, beloved friends, church, and family. And there is pain in these offerings.
Tears roll down my face as we share how we had to pull out from the village 3 weeks early, how we watched our daughter, the Joyful one, go through so much and that it was hard for us recognize her, how we battled the fear of leaving early, the fear that maybe we weren’t cut out for the jungle life, the wondering if we can really do this. How we had to admit that all this is hard- harder than what we could have imagined. How we feel weak and unqualified. But also how He’s been faithful and near. How He’s been loving and kind and tender in His care.
And I start to wonder why we are all so incredibly scared of weakness.
Because I think I’m learning that weakness is a gift. It’s this reminder that we’re not alone. It’s a prompting to look upon our Father. It’s an invitation to come and know Him deeper. And I know I have got to stop thinking about all I’ve supposedly given up and start thinking upon all that I have gained. Yes, more weakness. But beyond the weakness, this opportunity to know Christ more fully and deeply.
Weakness isn’t wrapped up in bright, shiny paper with a huge bow on top. No, weakness is one of those gifts in the small, plain box, the one that might get lost in the Christmas tree or forgotten about. It’s not flashy and it’s not obvious. It’s a soft calling, that whisper- the pain lasts only but a moment, surely joy will come in the morning. It’s the act of letting go of the weight and passing it back to the stronger Man. His yoke is easy, His burden light. His power, perfected in our weakness.
It’s the beckoning of God, all you burdened ones, come and find rest. It’s the light found in the Valley of the Shadow. It’s the reminder that I’m simply a jar of clay, imperfect and breakable. It’s the truth that this world is not my home, that I am pulled Heavenward, my heart created for eternity. It’s knowing that we who live will always be given over to death so that the glorious life of Jesus can be revealed.
How good it is to let myself slink down into the arms of Jesus, to give my shaking, frail legs a rest, to be carried for a while. To lean in, face to chest, ear to heartbeat. To enjoy the gift given- to know Him in suffering, to love and be loved by Him.