Today as I sat in my room, mentally preparing myself for night shift, I wondered how on earth I was going to haul my stuff back across the Atlantic Ocean. A year's worth of living in two bags. It will most likely come down to a choosing of my favorite t shirts and most loved books. All else will have to be left behind. In six weeks.
I have had a bit more mental turmoil in the past few weeks then in the entire time I have been here. Sort of funny. Perhaps it is the realization that very soon I will return to a culture which hands out similarly shaped rather uniform boxes and expects us to fit our lives inside. Like packing my belongings, if it doesn't fit is must simply be discarded.
Living on a ship for a year surrounded by cultures entirely different to my own has shed light on the realization of what of my beliefs is Biblical and what is cultural. Being removed from western culture has made me see how the concept of "security" paints our beliefs on rationality, responsibility, value, and even love. Affecting our Christianity and deceiving us into embracing the notion of entitlement.
Sailing to Liberia, hiding between the strapped down Land Rovers on the 8th deck, I remember reading this verse
2 Corinthians 12:15
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
It grinds against everything that my idea of entitlement would lead me to believe.
I have grown up hearing "treat others as you would like to be treated". Understanding the underlying tone of "treat others as you would like to be treated as long as they treat you the same way back". We are very easily offended. Indignation often ensues after we have been hurt or mistreated in small, silly daily things; we sulk and whine in penance of personal injustice. We wait to be asked for forgiveness before forgiving, because our position grants us such entitlement. Someone has stepped outside of the box we have given them.
And yet, to love as the above verse implies, to lose our personal rights, will most certainly will bring with it pain.
In Hinds Feet for High Places the main character, Much Afraid, experiences this dialogue
"Much Afraid shrank back. "I am afraid," she said. "I have been told that if you really love someone you give that loved one the power to hurt and pain you in a way nothing else can."
'That is true', agreed the Shepherd. 'To love does mean to put yourself into the power of the loved one and become very vulnerable to pain, and you are very Much-Afraid of pain are you not?'
She nodded miserably, 'Yes, very much afraid of it."
'But it is so happy to love even if you are not loved in return. There is a pain too, certainly, but Love does not think that very significant."
I think about what Christ did when He died on the cross. He left the throne of God and clothed Himself in mortal flesh. He made Himself completely vulnerable, hanging exposed and naked before His heavenly Father, earthly family, the hosts of angels and demons, and the physical world, to demonstrate His love to a world that he foreknew would despise and reject Him. He didn't want to die on the cross; we see Him sweating blood as be begged God the Father "To let this cup pass," the evening of His betrayal. But, because of His love for His Father and us, He surrendered in saying, "but not My will, but Yours be done."
There was no entitlement in His love. There were no boundaries. There was not box you could place it into. It was not reasonable. It was not rational. It was extravagant. It was completely vulnerable and it inflicted great pain upon the Giver. And yet He still gave it; and in His giving, He left us an example.
I claim to know nothing of possessing this kind of love. But as I ponder the future (or rather make myself mad in over-pondering) I don't think I can whole heartedly pursue both earthly security and learning this sort of love. The dilemma of choosing which master to serve.
The only way to learn this love is to know it; and in knowing it we find the Rock of Ages which provides the stability and security no earthly anything could ever provide. I suppose it might lead to a rather "irrational" sort of life but then again, the "wisdom of man is foolishness to Christ."
and after all, in the simple and eloquent words of the martyred missionary Jim Elliot,
"He is no fool to lose what he cannot not keep to gain what he cannot lose."