Lonely Glad Fear Shame Anger
Arriving in XXXXXXX last night felt very lonely. A long way from home.
My connecting flight to XXXXXX didn’t leave for almost 12 hours, and having already missed a night of sleep traveling 26 hours, I took a shuttle to an airport hotel for a shower and a bed. The loneliness of this leg of the trip was interrupted by two guys on the shuttle who spoke English (sort of). One was from LA (lower Alabama) – he’s the one who “sort of spoke English” but since I’d lived in Alabama before, I had no trouble understanding what he was saying. When I told him I used to be the chaplain at the University of Alabama, it was like he’d met his best friend and we talked “insider” Alabama football. Roll Tide.
I am feeling physically and emotionally tired. Besides the long flight, I think it’s mostly from having taught two four hour courses (Raising a Modern Day Knight and Voice of the Heart) back to back on Saturday and Sunday before leaving Anchorage at 4:00am Monday.
I used to panic when I’d feel this internal “empty” or “off” feeling with a huge ministry challenge like this in front of me. For many years, I believed it was a spiritual condition confirming my greatest fear that I was walking into battle on my own, the Lord of Hosts having moved on to strengthen another more deserving of His attention than me.
Especially when (like it felt this weekend) my teaching (my service to Him) was a little “sub-par” or certainly not “GREAT.” So I’d conclude that I’d failed and although the Lord still loved me, He wasn’t delighted in me and was not going to continue to be “with” me.
I cringe writing this having to see my own words and the sickness of my thinking for so many years. My theology was not the problem. I knew the Lord would never leave me or forsake me. It was my heart that was the problem. What I understood about God in my head, I could not apprehend about Him in my heart . . . emotionally, spiritually, or relationally.
I know the Lord is not only with me on this trip, He is NEAR to me and wants to be. He is delighting in my need of Him and quick to give me all that I need in any given situation . . . just as I would be if I’d brought one of my children with me on this trip. I also have a stronger sense of being prayed for (bc of the growing numbers reading this blog and FB) than I have on previous trips.
I’ll meet Al Henson (Commpassionate Hope Foundation) in XXXXXXXX later today. He’s been here for a week already and relayed the following which will give you a taste of my week to come:
I have found the church in XXXXX is hurting, lonely, fearful, and somewhat discouraged. But without question there is a purity of heart and the fields are ripe. In XXXXXX where I have been, the believers have not assembled together for over a year in fear. They have been told they can believe but cannot meet together or share their faith with anyone else. The spiritual leader of this region has been missing for over three years. Outside the city there are a dozen or more Hmong churches. Very strong. We met with one pastor in a private location after determining it would bring much risk to them if we were seen together. There are 1000 believers in his village but they cannot meet together and he is prohibited from meeting with the pastors of the other Hmong churches. He was definitely glad to have fellowship with us and to know we are here to serve and strengthen them. With our help, we may be able to bring a group of these pastors across into Thailand, thus allowing for fellowship, training and strengthening them in the Spirit.
We are going to XXXXXXXX to meet over the next few days with ones who have knowledge and influence in the churches in XXXXXX. While we are there, we will meet with a sister whose husband was taken 3 yrs ago by the authorities he has not been seen since. We all pray he is still alive. He is/was the spiritual leader in XXXXXXX city and the XXXXXX Province.
Where am I? Physically I am in XXXXXXX. Emotionally I am glad, sad, afraid, lonely, angry. Spiritually, I am being held near by a God who knows who I am and who most significantly to me, knows who I am not . . . and who delights in my honesty with Him and dependence upon Him.
The gift of loneliness is into-me-see.
I'm a long way from home, yet as near to home as I could ever be on this earth.