How India changed me
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 § 4 Comments
I should have written this weeks ago. But when your mind’s in a limbo, when you can’t find words for what you feel, when you don’t even know what you really feel, it’s not fair to drag someone else into your messy mound of unnamed thoughts and emotions.
But my writing now doesn’t mean to say I’ve got everything defined. In fact, I’m not even counting on the day that I’ll understand everything, because I won’t and I can’t. Let’s just say, everything is starting to make sense now. And I find that as I read my prayer journal from last year and early this year, and view my prayers in light of what happened recently.
Let me back up a little here and give you some history. I went to India on a mission trip last April. And this, my friends, is a big deal for me, not only because it’s a mission work, but also because I’d had the desire to go there on a mission trip since 2010. It was a long time coming, and it’s partly the reason for my restlessness that stretched for years.
I’ve been told that missions would change you. That it would make you do it again and again. But nobody warned me that going on a mission is an emotional journey. That you would arrive home knowing that you left part of your heart, part of yourself in that country you served. That it would take you days, weeks, months even to get a grip on what has just happened because it’s overwhelming and you couldn’t believe that you went through a lot in just a short time. That you couldn’t pinpoint the reason why you want to burst crying one moment and you end up crying in another. And that you’re asking God why you’re feeling what you’re feeling and you find no answer except for his comforting presence.
All of it feels weird. But it’s a beautiful kind of weird.
If there’s one thing I can say with definite clarity, it is this: India changed me. From start to end, it changed me. From the moment I prayed for this mission opportunity to the time I was raising my funds, it roused something in me. From the time I boarded the plane to Delhi to the moment I met my family after two weeks in Manila, India messed with my life—in a subtle, gentle, and divine way.
How would you feel when you’re aware that something significant was going to happen in your life but didn’t know it yet and then you went to a new place and after a time you realized something and could say to yourself, “I think I have an idea what this might be”? The nagging feelings finally made sense. The prayers of long ago found an answer. The desires that you easily dismissed as random were not random after all but had been ingrained in your inmost being—and although they seemed diverse in nature, they fit together in God’s master plan.
It’s so amazing how one act of obedience could be an answer to many of my prayers. It never occurred to me that the prayers are a lot more connected than I allowed myself to believe, and they all point to the same things.
Changes. Transition. Shifts.
I am reminded that one act of obedience puts us in a good position to acknowledge and receive God’s plans for us. In that act of obedience, we get acquainted with our own desires and dreams and view them in his perspective. We see our confusion melt away as we begin to understand how faith is required to live out the plans of God. And with an attitude of total submission and self-abandonment, we can freely let go, leave the safe place, and move in the direction he’s leading us.
I’ve been asked what the highlight of the mission trip is for me. I could think of a lot. Vacation Bible School. Praise dance with the kids. Home bible studies. Dinners with the church members. All the time I spent at our host church. Strangely, as I think of it now, the highlight really happened after the trip. It’s when I got home and sought God about this restlessness and these desires, and when God gave me an answer in the form of a glimpse of his plans. That sparked a greater, powerful sense of purpose and direction in me. He planted seeds in my heart long ago, and only when I went to India and came back home did I really have a good look at them.