Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Time to "Walk the Walk" - Stepping Out of the Comfort Zone

Blog post written by Kathy Laws
Edgewood, Kentucky


One of the things I often tell my children (especially the one who first "made me a mom") is that true growth in any area comes from being uncomfortable. Whether it's relationships, sports, or your profession, the truly good stuff can only happen when we get out into the messy places where things feel a little scary and unknown. This is also true in the area of my relationship with God. How can I expect to become closer to him and to serve him if I remain in my safe little "bubble" saying the same prayers and doing the same things every day? Wouldn't I be a hypocrite if I don't occasionally heed my own advice to my children and "walk the walk" to get potentially uncomfortable to draw myself closer to him? 


I am currently serving with an amazing group of humans in El Salvador. While I won't bore anyone with how I ended up here, I can say that without a shadow of a doubt,  God's call to me to go on this trip was clear. I KNEW in the depths of my being I was supposed to go on this trip. I cried tears of relief when I contacted Jenni because after years of reading about past mission trips, God let me know it was time for me to go. I cried because I knew the Holy Spirit was in me and it felt like a blessed relief to follow God's urging. What I did NOT know was the depths of the impact that this trip and the people of El Salvador would have on my heart.


God's light shines radiantly in so many of the people I have met on this trip. There are volunteers I have met with Sus Hijos whose faith is palpable. They relentlessly work to serve the poorest of the poor and the broken-hearted just as Jesus did. There are teenagers who exude a love of the Lord that is awe-inspiring. Their fervor for serving and passion for a close relationship with God is a joy to encounter! One example of this was listening to a beautiful testimony from one of our young team members. This young man has dealt with undeniably difficult things in his young life which could have hardened his heart. Yet, he bravely stood in front of a church full of strangers and shared how those difficult things had lead him to Christ. I could not believe how poised and powerful his story was and knew it would impact many. Also during the service, a sweet El Salvadorian girl sitting in front of me had turned around and we'd smiled at one another multiple times. I spoke to her in my limited Spanish and she smiled and seemed to encourage my effort. During this young man's testimony, she turned around and noticed I was crying. She instinctively reached out and kindly began to rub my leg. It was a tiny moment, but spoke volumes to me about how simple it is to share the love of Christ. It was the beginning of the trip and a reminder of what we are called by God to do: to simply love one another. 


We have been very busy this week. We fed the homeless during a dark, rainy night. Some approached our bus joyfully, bowing and thanking us repeatedly for the "comida" (food). Their smiles and gratitude shocked me given their dire circumstances. We visited a boys' orphanage and special needs home. During these visits, I played soccer with boys whose hearts have been broken, and again, despite the most difficult circumstances, they appreciated our time and attention.  I had the opportunity to dance with people who were overjoyed simply because we came to spend time with them. All of this moved me deeply. 


I'd love to be able to say I bounded into each of these experiences filled with the Holy Spirit with no trepidation or uncertainty. While I've been continually inspired by those who fearlessly and fervently share Christ's love in this way, I have felt a bit unsure and unsteady at times. I have felt unworthy of the challenge of this difficult work. Yet in those moments, I have reminded myself that I don't have to be enough and that it's not about me. I trusted in God and in one instance, I found myself bonding with a young man over his infatuation with my Fitbit and all its buttons. His infectious smiles let me know he enjoyed our time together despite his inability to speak. When we entered a special needs home yesterday, I wasn't sure what I should do or how to connect with anyone.  God led me to a young boy with Down's Syndrome in a wheelchair. We danced. And we hugged.  And he laid his sweet head on my legs for a long time as if thanking me for the attention. His huge smiles made me feel God's overwhelming presence, and I felt all my discomfort rapidly fade. I didn't need to worry about not being enough for this task, I needed to surrender to God and allow myself to be "His Hands and His Feet."  


The things that I'm doing this week are small in comparison to the amazing, inspiring work many people do here in El Salvador every day. Yet my heart is full knowing I followed the plan God has for me.  Today our team helped to finish a forever home that Sus Hijos is building for two families. There was torrential rain during the day and we got drenched and filthy.  Yet standing there in the driving rain, dirty and soaked to the bone, I felt insanely grateful for my life, my God, and the Jesus loving people with whom I'm sharing this week. There may be more uncomfortable moments this week when I'm unsure of what I should do or say, but I rest in the confidence of knowing his plan for me will be made clear. In my discomfort, I pray to grow closer to Him and depend on him relentlessly to guide my way. 

Jeremiah 29:11  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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