Wednesday, May 14, 2008

thy kingdom come

I'm tired.

I really love the work here. I love the patients. I love the nursing staff. I love the nursing leadership.

My brain just needs a little space to roam.

I'm leaving the ship in 3 1/2 weeks. It seems hard to believe. It feels weird to think about returning to the pressures I have been sheltered from for a year. Like care insurance and high gas prices.

Maybe it's good that I haven't had much time to think.

I remember when I decided I was going to come to the ship. It was the summer after I graduated from nursing school. I had taken the summer off before starting my job in the fall which left me with plenty of time for reading and thinking.

I went through a two week period where I felt pressed to fervently read through the New Testament. Quickly. Carefully. The entire time a small voice questioning my soul,

"Do you really believe this?"

I was made acutely aware that I was entering a phase in life where I would be making choices. Small choices that where leading somewhere. And the choices most often would not be a matter of right or wrong. They would be deeper; engaging and forming the desires of my heart. There would be choices of better and best. Matters of preferences. Expressions of
personality. Findings of security.

I heard Jesus say
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth not rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break though and steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

I saw Paul's heart for heaven
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (1 Corinthians 4:18)

Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth. (Colossians 3:2)

For I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

I saw the saints that had gone before me
These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them a far off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth...but now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly (Hebrews 11:13, 16)

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:37-38)

As I read it was impressed upon me how radical were the things that I claimed to believe as a Christian. And there was choice, a question. If actually believed that which I claim, what would my life look like? If someone who knew nothing of Christ read through the Bible would the story of my life reflect what they would expect to find? If I really place my value and security in heavenly things what earthly choices would I be lead to make?

I saw the expectations of an American 22 year old; establish your credit, buy a car, establish your career, buy a house, start a family, buy a bigger car, buy a bigger house. Welcome to your American dream.

I knew none of those things were wrong in themselves; the Bible is filled with men and women who were wealthy. Who enjoyed God's blessings. We are not trapped in legalism or condemnation; we are free to enjoy the blessings God gives us. We should enjoy them. Paul was content in little or in much. It's a matter of the heart.

But in light of eternity, in light of what I was claiming to believe, I saw potentially road mapped next 40+ years of life and wrestled in my heart with the thought,
"There must be more than this."

I spent the summer wrestling. Wondering. Questioning.

I thought about the people I loved who didn't know Christ. Would my life show them Jesus? Would it reflect that He has changed my heart? Would it attest to how good He has been to me? Would it be labeled by extravagant love?

It was a bit of divine discontent.

At the end of the summer I heard about Mercy Ships via a friend and some late night google searching. I remember the first time I saw the story of a little girl who had a tumor removed from her face. My un emotional self sat in front of the computer bawling. I decided I'd have to go on that ship.

I think I soon after announced to my family that I would be going to Africa and living on a hospital ship. At first, I think everyone just nodded and waited for the idea to pass over my head.

But after living here for almost a year I guess it was a serious idea.

I really don't know what the future holds. I know my weakness. I know my failings. I see my fears. I feel my insecurities. But I know Jesus.

I heard these lyrics today
Lord it's all that I can't carry and cannot leave behind
it all can overwhelm me
but I think of all who've gone before them and lived the faithful life
their courage compels me

And when I'm weary and overwrought
with so many battles left unfought

I think of Paul and Silas in the prison yard
I hear their song of freedom rising to the stars

I see the shepherd Moses in the Pharaohs court
I hear his call for freedom for the people of the Lord

And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them
And when the Saints go marching in
I want to be one of them

It resonates with me. Despite myself, I want to press on and simply know and follow Jesus. To learn to love Him and to love others as myself. I don't have the strength, I don't have the humility, I don't have the wisdom, but I have Jesus. And He is always enough.

And when the Saints dressed in regal attire eternally claim the kingdom of heaven; I want to be one of them.

No comments: