By Jeff Goins, Editor
It’s Easter evening as I write this. Maybe it’s the significance of the holiday or the fact that I just returned from a nine-day mission trip to Costa Rica, but I’m a bit contemplative this afternoon. After twenty-four hours of being back in the States, I’m already settled again, but inside of me there’s something else… something that’s been ruined.
Last night, I had a hot shower and slept in a warm bed. Today, my wife and I celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus by going to church, stuffing ourselves with pizza, and watching Star Wars: A New Hope. Now, I’m drinking hot tea and catching up on a high-speed internet connection. Yeah, living in America has its perks.
But last week, I walked around in 100-degree heat for 12 hours, longing for the simple pleasure of a cold drink. There’s something great about being refreshed when you really need it. I ran around with kids until my legs didn’t work and loved it. I prayed with desperation for God to extend his grace to people who needed it, because I knew that was their only hope. And every night, I fell asleep, confident that God had done everything through me that he wanted to do that day.
In Belen, Costa Rica, part of my life came undone. Living in true community weaned me of my addiction to technology and social networks. It broke my attachment to emails and text messages – because I realized that I was longing for something deeper. Fervent praying relieved me of my obsession with more knowledge and information. Laughing with brothers and sisters in Christ until my face hurt restored joy to my faith and chased away the darkness of my educated cynicism.
I think that we need to fast from our culture once in awhile. I think that we take so many things for granted that it’s silly. I think that when we put ourselves in a place of need and stand in solidarity with others in need that we learn something about life – namely, that real life can’t be contained, distributed, and purchased in mass quantities at Sam’s Club. And if it is, it loses something.
The real kind of life that we’re looking for is a narrow road that few find. It’s the sort of thing that you need to really search for; and when you find it, it demands everything you have and everything you are. But in the process of losing it all, you find that you gain what is most important. I don’t know that I’ve discovered it in its entirety, but I’m learning that life itself is a journey, a sacrifice, a form of dying so that I can really live.
I’m glad to be back home in Tennessee. I’m glad to be back in a place that speaks a language with which I am a little more familiar. And yes, I’m even glad to have some of my creature comforts back. But part of me longs to stay wrecked. I think that I need it. I don’t want everything to be returned to normal. I want to stay a little strange, because when I’m out of my comfort is when I think that I am most heavily relying on God and in the process of becoming most like myself (or at least who I’m supposed to be).
I don’t know how to do this without going on a journey.
That isn’t to say that mission trips can’t be an end to themselves or that we ought not minister in our back yards. I just know that every once in awhile, I need a break – a fast, if you will – to remember that my agenda isn’t always God’s agenda. I need to remember that I’m still on a journey, still searching for life to the full.
Mostly, I need to remember that Jesus’ definition of abundant life looks more like dying or being wrecked than it resembles a perfect resume or portfolio.
Jeff graduated from Illinois College, a small liberal arts school, with a degree in Spanish and Religion. He lives in Nashville, TN. He works for Adventures in Missions, edits this silly little magazine, and loves to do new things. He just got married in January. Check out his blog: Pilgrimage of the Heart.