The Art of Following

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I have some big thoughts building.  They haven’t quite coalesced yet, but they will soon.  Stay tuned.

Tomorrow, we ride a bus to Costa Rica for our high school teams’ basketball tournament.  Everything I’m doing right now feels like it’s my last time.  We’re in Transition.

But this one had an added complication:  Nicaragua unrest continues and we had to decide whether we should cancel the trip due to all the protests and the threats (and sometimes acts) of violence.

Our school’s board, administration, and athletic director prayed about it and weighed all the pros and cons and concluded we should go ahead with our trip.  But it drives home that we’re in a very tense time here and need prayer.  I’m glad we’re going; this trip is the culmination of our basketball season and we’ll get to spend concentrated time with our players for these next five days.  God does great and surprising things on trips like this.

But in the bigger picture, Kim and I are preparing to leave a country that feels like it has a very short, smoldering fuse.  We’re not leaving because of the current tensions and I feel inordinately offended when people ask, “Is that why you’re leaving?”  “NO!”

I’m offended because this is such a crucial, volatile, and shatterable time for our adoptive country (though more accurate to say that the country adopted us).  I’m offended because I don’t want our neighbors, or any Nicaraguans, to believe we would bail when things start to look tense.  I’m offended because it’s hard to leave and even harder when so much seems at stake for this country we’ve grown to love.

Kim started talking with me about how we might need to move back at the beginning of last school year.  She was right, as she so often is, but I’m struggling with the decision nonetheless.  Perhaps the biggest issue for me is trusting God: with this timing, with the transition, with letting go of things here.

Then you add what Nicaragua is going through right this moment–tomorrow could be a crucial point in this developing conflict–and I understand the timing even less.

Pastor Bismarck, in his signature pose.

Following God is an art form, not a science.  Hearing from God is more like learning music than learning math.  I recently spent some time with Pastor Bismarck, one of my closest friends here, and he encouraged me, as he always does.  He reminded me of some crucial things–even quoted to me from a sermon I preached four years ago!–and helped me get my focus back where it needs to be.

The circumstances don’t make a lot of sense to me.  But they don’t have to.  We pray and we listen and we walk where we believe Jesus tells us to walk.  Sometimes it’s hard to hear anything, maybe because my own thoughts are so loud in my head.  I was just talking today with a young man who expressed that it’s so hard to trust God with the things we care about most.

But as Bismarck reminded me, we see only a small part of the whole picture that God sees.  God can see this whole, enormous painting, and how each thing we do adds a dot, like pointilism.  The painting belongs to God, not us.  God is the artist.  God is Creator, not just once but always.

Therefore, the fact that sometimes even big decisions won’t fully make sense to me should come as no surprise.  I can’t see what God’s painting.  I can’t see how the little dots of my calling add to the whole.  I love this country and I don’t want to move away, especially when they are on the verge of either a great step forward or a very different step.  But I’m not saving this country; I never was.  I’m walking with Jesus.  Trying to follow, trying to hear.

I’m loving the people I’m with, as long as I’m with them.

The rest of this week, that’ll be basketball players.

 

After that, God knows.

 

 

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