Blessed and Broken

A life on the road in ministry for others is a life of adventure. There are people to meet, places to go and, in Uganda at least, beautiful animals to see.

My mission with Team in Faith has taken me to Africa four times since 2012, with another trip just a few weeks off. My relational ministry style has been a blessing to many as I have brought gifts from the Holy Spirit in addition to practical items, like computers, smart phones and money for school fees.

The wonderful thing about it is that by being a blessing to others, we receive abundant blessings. As a pastor friend put it, “we are blessed to be a blessing (to others)…”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, please and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Leaving home, friends and colleagues, for months at a time, doesn’t come without a cost. Relationships are broken, communication is distant. The reality is by losing myself in my work and mission, I lose others, too.

kasese group

Great satisfaction comes when you see lives transformed. In Kasese, Uganda, this year, Team in Faith awarded a grant of $1,000 to four women’s micro-finance groups. The money was to be shared among members for small business loans, family expenses, school fees. Two months later, more than 100 people showed up (photo above) to thank Team in Faith for its support of their livelihoods, with songs, dances, testimonies.

My return to California has been met with a much cooler response. Busy, distracted lives separate me from friends and family. It’s a price I pay for my work on the other side.

When Jesus called his first disciples, he saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. They were fishermen, casting a net into the lake. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Whoa! How do you think that went at home? “You quit your job for what??”

Their faith in the Lord turned their lives upside down. The world has never been the same.

After the Mountaintop

Luke 9:28-37

In the referenced Luke passage, Jesus’ appearance changes and he becomes glorious. It is called the transfiguration. Several apostles, including Peter, John and James, went up the mountain with Jesus to pray. It would become a great spiritual experience that would strengthen their faith in the days to come.

Who doesn’t like a so-called “mountaintop experience” where your faith and joy are expanded?

mountaintop

I am reliving the mountaintop experiences I enjoyed in Africa for five months earlier this year. My relationships and my travels were wonderful and God-inspired. I give thanks day after day for the blessings, thrills and love I received.

But after the peak period, we must descend the mountain, as Jesus did. The writer in Luke says, “…when they came down from the mountain, a large crowd met him.” The wonder of those moments on the summit was replaced by the chaotic events of everyday life.

Let’s call it “the big letdown.”

That is where I find myself today.

The memories remain, the people are in my heart, but life at home proceeds at a different pace with little or no fanfare.

I know that this time now is important for the days and weeks ahead. I must plan, persevere and produce before I can return to my work in Africa. I don’t feel the rush of excitement that was present during those great events. I must be intentional about keeping my focus as I grieve those days gone by.

Faith sustains me. It is the constant that existed yesterday and today, and will continue through tomorrow.

I don’t know that we can predict when we will have those mountaintop experiences. Through focus, prayer and preparation, we can be ready to enjoy the moments God gives us to strengthen our spiritual life, whenever they occur. They can be like the wonderful days on the top of the hill, or the quieter ones that occupy me today.