Over Christmas, I was blessed to have the opportunity to spend some time at a mission project in Belize with my friend Alex. I wish I could do justice to the experience in this post... Sweet fellowship with passionate, mission-minded believers. The satisfaction of doing hard, honest labor, of eating simple (and delicious!) food, of going to bed and getting up early. The joys of playing in the dirt with the sweetest kids in the world (don't tell them I said that). The glory of song; of full-throated hymn-singing, together with people who love it as much as you do, in a room with wonderful acoustics; of waking up singing; of singing for Saturday night entertainment; of singing while riding down the road on the tractor...
Perhaps the best description of my time at MOVE is that I felt a bit like Christian, in Pilgrim's Progress, when he and Hopeful got to Beulah. There the "air was very sweet and pleasant, . . . [and] they heard continually the singing of birds, and saw every day the flowers appear on the earth. . . Shining Ones commonly walked [in that land], because it was upon the borders of heaven." It was a wonderful, physically refreshing, spiritually recalibrating experience.
Needless to say, the readjustment to a somewhat solitary existence reading tax textbooks was a wee bit difficult. But the other day I remembered this hymn that Alex and I had discovered one evening while thumbing through the hymnal:
In the heart of Jesus, there is love for you,
Love most pure and tender, love most deep and true;
Why should you be lonely, why for friendship sigh,
When the heart of Jesus has a full supply?
In the Heart of Jesus - Alice Pugh - SDAH 577
Here I was, pining for friends in Belize, when the Source of friendship--the very reason for the existence of those earthly ties--had more than enough love to comfort me! Without a doubt, it is sad to be separated from people I love. But Jesus offers love that is more than adequate to satisfy my yearning for fellowship, and like the cord that grows stronger the more one relies on it, I believe that He becomes more heart-steadying as we learn to lean on Him more fully.
I have also been reminding myself that missions isn't simply an overseas adventure--as exciting and as important as those are--it is a way of life that may be practiced equally effectively in North Carolina, or in Belize. God has planted me in this mission field for the time being, and it is entirely up to me whether I live life here as a missionary or not.
All of those realizations have been helpful in calming the clamor in my soul and redirecting my emotions into more healthy channels, but they haven't completely mitigated the tugging on my heart. As many of you are aware, missions really has a way of getting under your skin. Somehow I suspect that I will never be completely at peace in a "traditional" career path, or perhaps I fear that precise possibility–in which case, a certain amount of discomfort is probably healthy! All that to say, I want to live like the sons of Issachar--"understanding the times"--and sensitive to God's calling.
*More pictures of our trip can be found here.
**The other verses of In the Heart of Jesus are well worth a read--particularly the third verse!