Wow, if you knew Leanne you would be as surprised as me that she posted so many posts faster than me! Click there to see some pics of my time at Samaritan’s Purse Christmas present handout!
It’s so weird to live a life where I have lots of down time yet I find it so hard to write blog posts because of all the thinking I am doing and all the lessons God is teaching me! There is so much I wish I could share with the world but I will have to limit it to one thing I want to share most. Please be prepared for a bit wordy of a story below, as I want to write this out more for my own benefit than anything. Also, I am going to be entirely honest about my thoughts involved with this experience.
Two weeks ago, Hannah and I went with our (then) newly arrived team from Simpson University to Bongolo Hospital. One of the coolest things that a few members of the team and I did was go caving in the extensive underground caves below the hospital and village. It turns out that “caving” was much more than just walking around in some dark caves. I knew I had gotten myself into something much more involved when we came to the ‘entrance’ of the caves and our leader told us to crawl on our hands in knees–in the mud–into a two-foot-high opening under the rock.
By the time we reached the first chamber where we could stand up, one of the girls on our team was having a hard time with our situation. Her panic was obvious in her voice, and she demanded that we pray before we moved on. Finally, after promising that we would go as slow as she needed, we continued on.
Let me add in a bit of a precursor to this experience by saying that as we went into this adventure, I was expecting of myself to be a leader and supporter of the other members of the group. I figured that my experience with adventure-esque things [aka growing up in Colorado] would make me one of the stronger explorers on our team. But as we began to navigate through the caves, I found it difficult to do much to guide the other people from the group because my head lamp was one of the dimmest ones of the group.
After about half an hour of wading through knee-deep pools, climbing up narrow rock chambers, and crawling through mud, we came to a large open chamber. Brett, our leader (a team leader who grew up in Bongolo as an MK) had us turn off all of our lights. In the pitch darkness that surrounded us, he gave us the analogy of how our sin is like the darkness that surrounded us, and until someone turned on the “light” (Jesus) that people wander in the darkness all their lives.
Friends, from that moment when he switched on the little flashlight, flooding the room with light, something in my brain clicked. That simple message (which I have heard numerous times) impacted me like baseball being thrown at my head. I was struck with the reality that I hold the ability, the power (from Christ) in my hands to turn on that light to people that I know. And I wondered to myself, “How many times have I held that flashlight in my hands and not turned on the light for someone wandering around in the darkness?”
Everything that happened for the rest of the time was symbolic for me about faith, my walk with Christ, and a Christian’s role in the world. From things as little as who in our group had the brightest light, who brought up the rear, and even changes in attitudes about the experience in different people all had symbolic meaning for me.
Perhaps someday I can share with any of you in person some of the things I learned, as I just don’t have the time or words to type up all those lessons. But that night as I shared about my experience during team debrief, tears ran down my face as I was honest about my realizations about my outlook on my own spiritual walk. One of the biggest lessons that I learned I will share here. As I mentioned, I from the group had the dimmest light, which prevented me from being the leader that I thought I would need to be. Instead, I found myself relying on the other people in the group and the light that they shared to guide my steps. The literal experience of relying on my teammates for light was humbling because usually I like to get through experiences on my own strength without accepting help from other people. That experience symbolized to me, though, that in my spiritual walk I am just as dependent on other Christians for support as they are dependent on me. Since going to Nyack I have seen my need to be more open to honest Christian community, one in which I can and will ask my brothers and sisters in Christ for prayer and for help. For too long I have been relying on my own (dim) light to find my way through the “dark caves”.
You can’t navigate the caves on your own. Ultimately, we need the light of the Christ to guide our steps. But God gave us the Church (worldwide, multicultural, all creatures of our God and King) to be that light of the world and to “navigate the caves together”.