21 May, 2006

On being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see.

Tonight I talked to my future teammate/roommate Allison on the phone for the first time. She is really nice and everything, but the conversation was brief and a little awkward, as can be expected from such encounters. It was hard to know where to begin and what to say about Croatia and life and ministry here, and what she can expect in the year to come.

I certainly wasn’t prepared for this year, and I doubt I could have been. But what did I learn? If it was so unfathomable and unforgettable and defining, how can I capture it and communicate it and remember? What is the point?

The other day I was talking with a friend of mine here and she was telling me about her family and the things she’s struggling with and how she’s depressed and that she’s thankful she can talk to me about it. And when I asked her what she would ask God if given the chance, she said, “I would ask ‘What’s the sense in life?’” I guess that’s my question, too. Because this year has to have been about more than English Workshops, cultural faux pas, missing home, playing pranks on the guys, or describing the oddities of our lives via our beloved blogs.

It’s nearing the end of May already. Where are we and how did we get here? I feel triumphant for having made it this far. I feel grateful for my incredible teammates and the fun memories and the things I have learned and the ways we’ve all grown. And I feel disappointed because I’ve lost sight of why I came here in the first place.

I have not seen first-hand a Croatian life transformed by the power of Christ. I have not seen the city of Rijeka turned upside down by a sudden hunger for the truth. I have not seen friends I continue to meet with and pray for be set free by the grace of God.

What have I seen? I’ve seen a seagull attack and capture a fish and proceed to peck at it, then lose track of it under a tarp. I’ve seen my flaws exposed like never before. I’ve seen a new friend rapidly approach an unexpected death. I’ve seen people with opposite personalities and chronic conflict choose to learn to love and care for one another. I’ve seen students who swear they’re not interested in Jesus or spiritual things keep coming back to hang out and talk about what is important in life. I’ve seen how desperately important truth is, and how badly we all need love and grace and Christ. I’ve seen how maddening apathy and blindness can be and how heartbreaking life is without real hope based in truth. I’ve seen that there is work to be done here, but the task is infinitely beyond my capability. And I’ve seen my own lack of faith revealed for what it is, plainly and unromantically.

So where does that leave me? Humbled. Saddened. Repentant. Hopeful. Praying for greater faith. Faith that things will somehow change here. Faith that God is able to open eyes and soften hearts and make reality clear even when everything we try fails. Faith that He is still the greatest and that in the end, good will win.


Matt said...

OK that was a really cool post. Sometimes I read your blog and it inspires me to be more real. I hope it doesn't last. J/k. So Yeah, I've been catching up with my friends blogs lately. I have played 22,551 hands of poker in the month of May so far, but who's counting. For a couple weeks there I had enough to come for a visit. Then I got creamed.

But anyhow this really long comment is supposed to be about your blog. It rocked my world. Keep up the good work. And how you manage to post 5 times in 5 minutes is beyond me. BTW did Brian give my notes to you guys? Hope you are doing great and we are definately going to some concerts this summer, I think I am going to buy tickets for shows on the 10th and 11th of AUG. You are so There.

Alexis said...

Awesome, I'm excited about this summer. It's going to be a busy few months. Yeah, we got your notes, and we sent some back to you with Brian. Thanks for the gift, too.
Sometimes late at night I get all introspective and write a bunch of stuff and post it all before I really have a chance to think through/edit, so I'm glad you appreciated this one.
22,551?!?! That's insane. You are a master gambler.
As for my 5 posts in 5 minutes, well, I'm a master blogger, so what can you expect...
Music in August = yay.

Anonymous said...

I think we're at similar...seasons (?) right now. I hestitate to use that word cos it sounds so...ecclesiastical. I think we're beginning to discover that it will always be harder for us to communicate and relate to others, now that we have been on STINT and we've experienced our utter depravity and our absolute need for the grace of Christ. Not that we're now part of some elitist Christian group, but we join Paul in boasting no more - and when you can boast no more about the things of this world, you automatically have a lot less in common with this world.

I'm praying for you Alexis, but I'm not praying for you to have greater faith - JC says you need it only as big as an itty-bitty seed. I'm praying that you will continue to expect great things from your great God.