Many people have been praying and helping Drew and I prepare for our time in the U.S. for the holidays. We are so thankful to be here and so thankful for the rest. In fact, Drew was saying to me the other day that he thinks he is done with school. Life here is so great. I think I am done with work as well, let’s just live like we are on a vacation with our families taking care of us and our friends visit all the time!
Checking out the World of Coca Cola with our friend Jacob who came to visit.
Okay, reality check…
As much fun as this time has been, (and believe me, we are trying to soak up every bit of it because we know this time is such a gift) we have been challenged and are learning in the comforts of the U.S. just as much as we were learning in what many would deem a more uncomfortable life in Zambia. In fact, there are many things that have made us uncomfortable here, and we are again longing for the comforts of the place we called home the past 10 months.
Why is the U.S. not as shiny as we fondly remembered? I mean it’s Christmas for goodness sake — the shiniest season of them all! Although there are conveniences we missed like Target and Chipotle (yum!), it is still another piece of our fallen world in desperate need of a Savior. Though our surroundings here seem pretty and much less dusty, the buildings, cars, and well-organized streets are still full of broken, sin-stained and wounded people. We cannot escape these marks of our humanity.
However, as Christians, we know a deeper humanity. We know a humanity that has been redeemed and a people who are deeply loved by a holy God. So, in whatever world we find ourselves in, shiny or not, what will we do with ourselves? Where has Christ called us in all of this? How will He make his name known in our lives?
I have been challenged by these thoughts as I think about my American life and African life colliding in this season. Reflecting on these two worlds brought to light Jesus’ parable of the two sons in Matthew 21.
The parable of the two sons isn’t one that I have memorized, but as I came across the story this week I was struck by its simple truth. Basically, Jesus presents choices made by two different sons and how they obeyed the instructions of their father to work in the vineyard. One son refused initially, but quietly obeyed in the end. The other son quickly agreed to obey, but failed to follow through with his actions. Jesus’ listeners concluded that while the first son refused initially, he honored his father more by actually doing what his father asked. Check out the full story for yourself in Matthew 21:28-31.
I forget that doing the will of my Father is much more important than agreeing with it. Of course I remember when I actually think about it this way, but I don’t always remember when it comes to thinking about how I want to live my life. As I am surrounded by such a neat and tidy society that I often long for in Zambia, I must remember that its not about the initial impression so much as it is about backing up the impression I want to make.
It’s so easy to know the answers, but it’s a challenge to live out that truth. Especially when many in our world would be satisfied with the right impression, we must long for the right impact. It is not enough to know the will of our Father, He has called us to be a part of it. We must see past the shiny American dream and the romanticized African adventure in order to understand the purpose behind the life Christ has for us.
Jesus concludes his parable with this humbling message,
“…’Truly I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you.’” Matthew 21:31
The truth is none of us have it all together, but those that seem as if they are most in need are often much farther along than the most polished and perfect Christian. Shininess fades. The work God has called you to is much more important than the image you may be trying to create. Our world seeks after the ideal, shiny image, but our God has work for us to do. May we spur one another on to play the part rather than just to look it.
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God… But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:11-13
I am thankful our time here hasn’t been as shiny as we thought, we are longing for our Christ to come again.