I don’t handle change well. It comes from a heart that longs to settle, but can’t. So it was no surprise that our recent move from one home and state to another, happening in the midst of a ministry trip to Spain stretched my capacity for change.
The timing was, well, let’s just say, awkward. The closing took place while in the very middle of our ministry trip to Spain. All of it done remotely. Gradually, as I gave to others I decompressed from six weeks of stuffing boxes, and long discussions with Elaine on what would and would not fit in a new home literally half the size of the one we sold.
Conversation with missionaries, meetings with national pastors and leaders, riveted attention from myself to a country that hardly gives any heed or interest to God. I was impressed by a group of faithful servants who’ve left all to serve 5,10 and even 20 years to offer the gospel as a precious gift to hardened hearts. (An underwhelming 1% of Spain claims to be born again Christian, and the majority of these are migrants.) The highlight for us was serving the missionary team at their annual pastoral care retreat held this year in a 14th century monastery in the town of Segovia. Elaine and I taught, encouraged and interacted with twenty-eight adults, while our son, Brett, discipled eighteen teens on the life of Joseph.
By the end of this trip, knowing we’d return to a house full of unpacked boxes, my heart lay split wide open to the harshness and hardness of the world we live in. To know that we could give one week of our lives to men and women who’d given up everything to unpack the gospel, week after week, day after day to a culture who long ago distanced themselves from Jesus, reminded me again of why I am here, and why I now do what I do. My new home simply becomes a place from where to do it. That’s all. I might not be on the cutting edge of this Kingdom work, but I get to encourage those who are. Upon returning, I received this email from one of the team members in Spain, confirming to me that our story continues to belong to Jesus. “Last week I attended a Pastoral Care Retreat in Segovia with fellow ministry workers from the C&MA Spain team, and God spoke to me in one of the most beautiful ways I have ever experienced. For the last few months, I have been mulling over a specific calling that God has placed on my heart. At this retreat, amidst hearing the pastoral care couple share their testimony of suffering and how they trusted God; and learning about how they view suffering, tragedy, discouragement, and depression from their personal experience, I felt God confirm my calling with such strong confidence in Him and a burning passion for what He laid on my heart.”
Elaine and I are in conversation with the leadership in Spain to serve as pastoral care couple to the team there. This would mean a trip or two a year back to Spain. Between those trips I hope to coach, interact with and encourage team members through social media. Looking around me this morning, this home looks pretty settled. One or two boxes remain unpacked; several pictures sit unhung on the floor, but for the most part the place looks like it’s been home to us for some time.
I know this is just a temporary home. The longing to settle remains unmet, and that’s good. I’m really not ready to settle yet. There’s a world of people out there far from home who still need to know that someone, God himself, came here two thousand years ago and pitched his tent with us and gave his life for us so this cruel, harsh sin-damaged place will never have to be our home. So hell will never have to be anyone’s next and final move. As the writer of Hebrews puts it so beautifully, …God has provided something better for us…” (Hebrews 11:40). I can’t wait!