May 14, 2014

I love you more than I hate spiders






My spirit was crawling like the little spiders that I discovered all over my house just that morning.  It, like them, was reaching for a safe, dry place away from the sogginess of the overly saturated ground. At first I just saw one, but as my glance turned outward, I felt like the background of my life had turned to a million crawling things scaling the walls.  I immediately and with fearful urgency, set out with my broom to kill all that was scaling upward.

My spirit too was struggling to climb towards heaven, and the minimal but dramatic- in- my- own- eyes- circumstances of life was the broom smashing in on me. There had been several incidences that shook me since we moved into our house in Los Ciruelos, Dominican Republic, a small and super sweet off-the-grid neighborhood where we had landed, and my nerves were exposed and raw.    My silent screaming was desperately longing to ring out toward my Maker
"Haven't I sacrificed enough? Can't I just get A LITTLE comfort here?"
knowing that my outward comfort wasn't the plan or even my true heart's cry, knowing that my brothers and sisters that I work alongside struggle in ways I will never understand, with circumstances MUCH more difficult than these, but bending to the pressure building within me.  I had sweated out many prayers - quite literally- in the weeks preceding, and had also lingered in silent protest - an old pattern that surfaces if I don't let the Holy Spirit keep it in check.

I'd known for a few weeks that the Lord had caused me to press my lips in silence, to sit thankful and not all grumbly like, to take Him in and just breathe Him out.  But I'll admit, despite all of the beautiful things from Him in my midst, despite all the daily gifts, I was struggling with the daily uncomfortableness that was chipping away at my outward smile.

And then it was as if a plague of spiders had been loosed in my life.  In fact, literally, they had.  And the silent spirit broke the sound barrier and cried out in anguish, "REALLY GOD? ? ?"  I know that I know that I know that my actual circumstances are a tiny little drop in the bucket compared to the true suffering and difficulties of others, and also to the love that has been lavished upon those who stand with Jesus, who endured far more than any of us could imagine.   And yet, in this moment, these spiders were like capsules of fear that blitzed the core of my being.  They were vehicles of disgust, disappointment and discontentment crawling all over my heart.

Pre baby tarántulas crawling over house, there had been the internal fist pump towards the sky and the after them was like a release valve to set free underlying problems with my theology. When I thought that I could rise to the calling of "sacrifice more, rely on Him, and go deeper with God," I thought that it would coexist with living on the resort grid with constant power, water and electricity . . . ministry and comfort walking hand in hand . . . perhaps a pool in the backyard maybe?  Mingling with the materially poor but returning to my gated community with paved roads and constant power.  But a gated community on the resort grid is not what the Lord had in mind for us, instead a bumpy, rocky road and a muddy backyard.  And I was angry, and with that came spiders crawling all over my life.  (Incidentally, there are tarantulas living on the resort grid, too - and the missionaries that live there have made just as many sacrifices, struggle just the same with same and different things, and serve their hearts out in the communities and places where they give their lives.) It's not "the grid" that's the problem, it's my heart that was living with the presuposition that because of certain sacrifices there were certain comforts that I required, deserved.

This is really ugly for me to confess, ya'll.  I'm actually really embarassed with this heart problem and it's desire to keep things properly sanitized and compartmentalized when the Lord brought us - me - here to share Him.  That I could be so easily distracted and robbed by external issues is disgusting to me because I know that Jesus is SO MUCH bigger, and yet, I've been taking swings at God as the slightest breeze of the fan blows over my head on my pillow in my comfy bed because I'm mad and upset that a spider might be crawling on me! ("I need sleep to serve you, God, after all," I would mumble exhaustedly sitting up in my bed to do a spider check.)  So, I pray with all my heart that you aren't repelled by the ugly stuff that is being exposed, but compelled by how the Lord is so gracious to meet each person - to meet me - a struggling missionary - right where I am.

I am a visual person and the Lord often speaks to me with visuals, analogies, stories - these are the things that bring the gospel to life for me, and often the things that bring light to a dimly lit corner of my life.  The Lord can use any situation for His glory, and in my case, hundreds of little spiders crawling all over my house was not lost on me because they brought to the surface problems with my theology -even after 8.5 years of serving the Lord on this island!   Unearthed ugliness exposed, a gift.

But God did not stop there.  He used the unexpected . . . facebook, to send a messenger  to remind me of His love.   I had been Facebook wining  about the baby tarantula infestation in my house, and the response of an old friend snapped me into place like the string of an instrument plucked by a master musician.   I knew that the Lord was speaking to me through a comment.

"I hate spiders!  But I love you more than I hate spiders!"

The words from my friend sank into my searching soul.  What this person was saying was that a herd of tarántulas, despised and sometimes feared, would not keep them from moving towards me.  It would NOT detour our relationship, it would not repel them from me (and who could blame anyone for NOT wanting to come and stay at our house now that the tarantula issue has been revealed!  I wouldn't want to stay here either! !)

But that's what made this statement jump out to me so much . . . . God loves us so much.  He hates sin.  He loved us more than He hated sin, so He sent His son to die for us so that we could have life.  Our sins, though expectedly ugly, creepy crawly and sometimes clinging, did not keep Him from doing the most sacrifial, loving act He could do, making His son become the hated and despised so that we could be the loved and pure.

Jesus had a tendency to move towards the dangerous and despised, the lepers and the tax collectors and the prostitutes, with love and truth and compassion.  Maybe you don't consider yourself despised or dangerous, but I assure that a herd of spiders - or whatever it is in your life that makes you want to shout "WHY?WHY?WHY?" and fist pump at God, will not keep Him from you.  AND, if you have Jesus in your life, make sure you aren't withholding him from someone that needs you to move towards them despite whatever ugliness may be crawling over their lives.  I'm going to do the same.

Thank you, Jesus, for the place I live - with all of it's beauty and bumps - and for the things that you are exposing in my life and the ways that you are speaking to me, growing me, and making me a better instrument to love others as they are.  Thank you for those here on the ground that have been gracious, loving, helpful, prayerful - and for those in the states who have been fully compassionate, empathetic and encouraging.  Thank you that you love me enough to not leave me as I am, and that you pursue me even when I'm . . . . .