“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news!”
There is something about Belize….or maybe something about mission trips (I wouldn’t know, since my only mission trips have been to Belize) that allows me to see God in a brand new way… In those trips, I discover a way to see God that I am not sure is possible for me in my comfortable, normal world.
When I was in Belize a few months ago, I was struck by the similarities and striking differences between what our 41 missionaries from our church were doing and what the Lord did in Jesus.
Let me explain. During our trip, it was HOT. When I say that it was hot, I mean it was H.O.T.
I found a website that has a fascinating archive of weather around the world. (Freemeteo.com. It’s a good way to waste some time if you’ve ever done much traveling. I digress.) According to that page, one one day we were there, it was 30 degrees Celsius…or 86 degrees Fahrenheit…with near 90% humidity. A little more research revealed that the heat index, therefore, was 102. Yes. It was hot.
We were sweaty and dusty and all around gross. At the end of each day (or really, by lunchtime) all we wanted was a hot shower and clean clothes. (One day, we returned to our camp to find that we had run the camp’s water supply dry and there was no water for showers.) We felt so uncharacteristically unclean that those feelings dominated much of our thoughts and conversations.
At night, we climbed into our bunks and laid our heads on our pillows. The mattresses weren’t what we were accustomed to, and our backs struggled to get comfortable each night (and to get moving each morning). In the morning, we stepped out of our rooms and, by the time we got to the dining room less than 20 yards away, we were dirty. Covered in bug spray, dust, sunscreen, and sweat before 7 :30 in the morning. Yes, I think we complained a little. I am not proud of that.
At one point during the trip, I had a moment which discretion requires should remain private, but which changed my way of thinking and my way of seeing our Lord. Really, it changed everything, and I’ve struggled since the moment it happened to get the words down in print. No words, really, seem to adequately capture what happened to me on that hot, steamy Belizean afternoon. Suffice it to say that it was profound, and I haven’t been the same since.
The truth is, our imperfect reactions to the imperfect conditions showed me a lot about God, and about His emergence in the world as a human being. It showed me a lot about the person of Jesus.
I have to wonder what it was like for Him. He stepped out of heaven – HEAVEN, y’all – into our hot, dusty, dirty world. He left streets paved with gold for rocky paths littered with donkey droppings and mud. He left the presence of angels, singing His praise and bowing down to all He is with heartfelt devotion, to come to a world that neither recognized Him for who He was nor knew how to worship Him.
His hands……they moved from the armrests of His throne alongside God Almighty to come and work in this rough world. Blisters from carpentry…bruises from holding on to boat railings in unthinkable storms…
……gaping wounds from nails driven in by the ones He came to love……
And those feet…accustomed to those golden roads……dusty and dirty and tired. Exhausted from miles and miles walked in uncomfortable sandals.
Pierced and bound together by another nail, driven in by the ones He came to save.
What was it like for Him? Can we even imagine? I don’t think we can, in any way, shape, or form, but my experience in the very different world of Belize showed me something about who He is and how much He loves us.
I can’t even go to another country without complaining of discomfort. Heat. Fatigue. Dirt. Bugs. All reasons to complain and long for the comfort of home. I went because I sincerely love the people there…because God called me out of my familiar way of thinking into another world…but I didn’t do it without some degree of griping. I’m human.
If my journey was made out of love, how much more powerfully driven by love must God have been? Comparatively speaking, my home in Georgia is not so different from Belize. Yes, it is very different, but think about it. How much more different is heaven than earth? Let yourself fathom it.
That difference…that gap…was undertaken out of love for you. The discomfort was endured – without complaint, mind you – because of an inexplicable love for you.
Can you even imagine it? Can your mind wrap around that kind of love?
Try it. It will change you.