Picture the Space Shuttle returning to earth. The friction of the life-giving atmosphere creates enough heat to kill. The wrong speed or attitude can bring disaster.
In my mind, a drawback of modern travel is the pace. It is a wonderful luxury to be able to wake up one morning in Brazil and fall asleep the following evening in Oklahoma. It all happens so fast it’s impossible to process, though. Upon returning, we find our head and heart still remain in Brazil while our duties and obligations are in front of us in the States.
Spiritual journeys will not leave us unchanged. Even the decision to spend a few weeks overseas alters perspective. It impacts the trajectory of life. Walking foreign streets and witnessing the power of the Good News that can transcend all barriers and obstacles will stretch our faith to unexpected capacities.
My soul yearns for a gradual return from this experience. Two weeks overseas can’t be unpacked quickly. Like a good Brazilian meal, it all takes a bit of time to digest.
It seems like just a few hours ago I was walking the streets of Jardinopolis, praying as an old Catholic woman’s eyes filled with tears as for the first time she began to comprehend God’s love for her. She might spend the rest of her life unpacking this truth. Minutes later I was praying with the family of a young man who had been afflicted with a degenerative disease since birth. All eyes were swollen with tears as mom, aunt, and son all accepted Jesus as their savior, knowing we would all be dancing together in the next life.
Today, my eyes open to controversies about passwords and processes. Antivirus software and divestitures. Firewalls and F-bombs. I can feel it…reentry burns.
Like the atmosphere welcoming back the Shuttle, there is nothing inherently wrong with the environment to which I return. It’s life-giving, meaningful, and necessary. Transitioning so quickly from there to here causes the unease. My soul is split in two. I appear fully here but I’m frequently still there.
Reentry is all about speed and attitude.
So I pray. I silently pray for those who so frequently come to mind. The man we visited who was home with his two children. He chose Jesus and learned about the source of hope. The pastor working so hard to shepherd his people in a town battling darkness. The little boy with the feeding tube and his loving mom who wanted us to tell his story. The man who turned down living water and instead poured himself a glass of wine at 9 AM. Our interpreters. Our missionaries. All those who sent life-sustaining messages of hope, encouragement, and prayer from back home.
As I pray, the disparate worlds begin to align. The mission field isn’t there. It isn’t here either. It’s everywhere. The heat is a reminder that things are not as they should be here or there. The life-giving message of grace and hope is desperately needed by every person. Even here, in the middle of my normal life.
Mission is something we do, not someplace we go. Because of this, I press into the pain rather than seeking relief. I allow that yearning for where I’ve been draw me closer to our Creator who sent me. I allow the longing to draw me deeper into the trust in Him…the One who has never let me down.