In less than two weeks, Kevin and I will be adventuring in Costa Rica! The church team we'll travel with has met together several times to discuss the details. We received a packing list, had a mini Spanish lesson, handed over money to our leader, casually looked for our passports...then, frantically looked and tore the bedroom apart in search of the essential credentials (found them in an envelope-hidden in plain sight-whew!!), and heard about culture, taboos and large-sized insects! Armed with knowledge and Cutter with DEET, we are prepared! Well almost...
There is the shopping ... I'm checking things off the list everytime I Walmart, Walgreen, Goodwill or Amazon. Outfits for hot humid weather, but long sleeves for the agressive insects, a hat, lip balm -sunscreen fortified, wet ones, anti-diarrhea medicine, laxatives, bandaids...Up to the hour we leave, I'll be thinking of the one item we missed or need to have, but when the plane takes off, there's no turning back and our packing will be over.
What if we lived our lives with more awareness of our final journey? How would it change our focus, what would we spend our time and money on in preparation? Do we possess the passport of salvation that will allow us to cross the border? Are we keeping it up to date, paying attention to not let it expire?
I'll spray on a coating of kindness and gentleness to ward off the sting of rejection and the biting words of those who are hurt or insensitive. The anti-bacterial medicine of the Holy Spirit will anoint my skinned nerves and brusied feelings.
When those interruptions happen or the train crossing arms come down just as I'm about to cross the tracks, I will whip out the wet wipes of God's Word to wash off frustration and grumbling. I'll drink from his water bottle of Love and Mercy. These wipes came in handy yesterday as I rushed from Walmart to my car with 3 minutes to spare to get to my hair appointment that was just across the street. As I returned the shopping cart to the end of the parking isle, I recognized a woman who used to come to our church. I didn't know her too well, but I wanted to be friendly so I said hello. She had no "fine, how are you response?" to my greeting, but proceeded to tell me about the many trials of ill health, financial battles and hurts she was dealing with. I really did care, but I also knew my hairdresser was waiting for me. I told her I needed to go, but I would be praying and suggested she come to special prayer time at church where she could be loved on and prayed for. She paused briefly, but then continued to explain why she doesn't get out much, but misses church...on...and...on. I was reminded that people are more important than appointments and I tried to expel the tension, silently asking Him to work it all out. I tried to get some current contact information so I could follow up, and left, still able to get my hair cut.
I'll be prepared for any weather or circumstance if I pack the following outfits:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Co. 3:12. Show me where and how to get these, Father, no matter how costly they are to obtain.
Can't forget to pack the vitamins: G-ratitutde, J-oy, and L-ove.
A flashlight charged with time plugged into his presence will chase away the darkness.
I look forward to the times I spend with friends and family journeying with me. We'll stick together in unfriendly territory. A suitcase mentality will help me know that adding one more piece of 'stuff' may be a zipper breaker and will make the load heavier. I don't want to get bogged down with heaviness.
In the last two weeks, on Facebook, I've followed the journal of a long ago friend who was posting her experiences with a mission team from her church in another state, who were in Costa Rica. I was all ears to hear how things were going, what they were encountering, what they ate, what kind of service were they called to give, details, please! I sent her a personal message and peppered her with lots of questions. What were the sleeping arrangements like? What did she take that proved to be invaluable, what did she wish she had taken? I asked everything I had been wanting to know, even things I had already been told the answer to on the handouts we had received at a team meeting, because I wanted to hear from someone who was there, who had first hand experience. She gave me many helpful tips, and I'm packing accordingly.
Likewise, we have Someone who lives in the place we are headed. He gave some clear directions on how to pack and what to expect; he even offers himself as a personal guide.
Here are some of the things he says not to be without:
Love for your neighbor
Gifts to freely give to others along the way
Constant supply of Holy Spirit oil
Expectation of suffering and persecution (I'd like to pack that on the bottom, Jesus)
And what not to bring:
Thank you for overseeing the journey, Jesus, and promising your presence always. Teach me how and when to use what I've been equipped with. I look forward to the adventures.
Wherever you may be traveling this summer, pack wisely, and be prepared.
Wherever you are in the journey to our homeland as believers, may you discover the amazing, sufficient Grace that your Guide will always have on hand.