We haven’t yet arrived in our new village, and already I have my excuses.
Exhibit A: But I’m an introvert.
Guys, this is a thing. Running with the extraverts in a mission context feels a lot like running with the Kenyans in last October’s Marathon. It requires of me more effort, more oxygen, more rivers of sweat streaming into my eyeballs, and still I’m bringing up the rear. I am good at being introverty. I’m good at deep thinking and at reading your mind and intentions with freakish accuracy.
I am distinctly not good at People I Vaguely Recognize peering into my windows and popping into my house for a three hour chat and staying for the dinner I haven’t even started to cook because hello, three hour chat.
This makes me nervous and itchy, and it hasn’t even happened yet.
In any test of spiritual gifts, I pretty much flunk Hospitality. And still I’m convinced that doors flung wide open are integral to loving my neighbor just like I love me. It is hard, and I stink at it, and also it’s super important so sign me up already.
Caveat #2: Languages are tricksy, slippery little guys.
I heard/read a story once about a man who sang joyfully (but not so melodiously) to the Lord, and his most desperate wish was to have a voice that matched the fervor of his joy. And one day, bam, outta nowhere, God gives him this gorgeous set of pipes.
You can ask my friends; if I could hand-pick any talent/skill in the whole gifted world, it would be the art of language acquisition. And maybe someday God will zap me with this superpower, but for now it’s the daily grind of drill and painfully garbled practice. Failing is not my favorite, nor is Public Humiliation, but again: super necessary. Let’s do this thing.
And finally: I’m a fair-weather camper at best.
I’ve heard it said that bush-living is a bit like permanent camping, and while I’ve never had a tent that big or solar-paneled, I sort of do get the point. Buggy, with pit toilets, bucket baths, smoke in your hair—camping it is.
I like camping. I like it for the trees and the seclusion, for the wind that makes red maples shiver and sing. But also I like civilization, and going home to it at the end of the week.
I guess the thing is, God has this strange propensity to place us where we’re least qualified, where we’re flimsy and clumsy and embarrassingly needy. Moses and his stutter. Gideon quaking in his boots. I don’t fully understand (or appreciate) it, but I can see how inadequacy helps me lean into Him, how it allows me to be small and God to show up fierce and magnificent.
A few of my honest pals have said to me, offhand, that they’d never survive bush life. AND EVEN ME, GUYS. And even me. I was not made for jungles and snakes and even worse, people in my personal space. :) But I was made for God, and He can land this thing in His sleep.
Let it be said: if anything at all goes right about this, it will clearly be God’s doing. But what a lucky life this is to be swept up in His wild mercy to every nation, every tribe.