There are certainly experiences in each person’s life that has significant and long standing impact. Some of those we see coming like a wedding or the birth of a child… others we don’t like a car accident or a significant windfall of money or a week in intense circumstances. Going into last week, I knew God was about to do something special, but I wasn’t entirely prepared for the significance of what He wanted to do.
I just got back from Jamaica, and no not from a vacation, though no vacation has done more to reinvigorate my soul… I got back with a group of 11 people from my church that did missionary work there. We held babies that never get held. We took children outside that rarely see the beauty of their Jamaican surroundings or feel the tender roughness of grass. We were spit-up on, peed on, climbed on, and tackled. We mixed concrete in the middle of a library. We hauled rocks, sad, block, and just about anything else that was lying around up two flights of stares to build a church in which we will never worship. We ran a Vacation Bible School, made princes and princesses out of little children, sang “Jesus Loves Me” an uncountable number of times, and played “Ring Around the Rosie” until we couldn’t fall down anymore. We laughed together. We sang together. We prayed together. We ate together. We juggled together… yes juggled. And we cried together.
The work was hard but good. We came back each night tired, but in the way that you know tomorrow you want to do it all again.
I say “we” in all those statements, but truly the significance of this past week, is that “we” didn’t do any of those things… but it was God that used our hands, feet, mouths, hearts, minds, and voices as His instruments. If we had done any of it I wouldn’t have the sense of the divine that I do right now. If the Holy Spirit had not made Himself known through the lives of 11 people I would not be so discontented with the world that I occupy each and every other day and long for more of that divine touch.
There is something funny about that number 11. Just as I am writing this I am reminded that only 11 of the original 12 disciples carried on. It was from those 11 that the church was planted in the book of Acts, and the Holy Spirit used them to turn the world upside down. I have been on other mission trips before, but never before I have felt that God using 11 people could turn me upside down.
I have heard it said that the family that prays together stays together, and that is true… but I believe God builds spiritual families on sweating brows and the aching backs. I say this because those 11 people became family, and I saw God work in them all.