The Ultimate Culture Shock

This last Christmas I spent a lot of time thinking about the differences between Jesus’ life in heaven, and what he stepped down into, to be made flesh and live among us.  Let’s see, from being able to dive into the rainbow of glory and the embrace of the Father, to walking by faith and not sight.  From being a focal point of heaven’s adoration, to growing up a poor commoner of an oppressed nation.  From the fellowship of mighty beings calling out the holiness of God, to being jostled in dusty streets by those doubting His goodness.

That, my friends, is culture shock.

Learning life here in Costa Rica, I feel some of it, too.  After four months of “no way,” I honestly got emotional the other day in the grocery store.  I let myself use my fun money to buy a favorite treat: Swiss cheese at $8 a pound (in Nebraska, you pay $4).  I cried the first time we test drove a car for sale because I missed my “Ferrari”—our nice used minivan purchased with 90,000 miles on it.  When my dear mentor was dealing with a sore hip and couldn’t reach her toenails to cut them, it broke my heart.  The offer to stop by every week for a little pedicure was on the tip of my tongue, but nail clippers don’t work over the phone.  These are small things, I know.  But life in a new culture is full of them.  They pile up around you, and sooner or later you have to work through them if you are going to move forward.

We know that Jesus dealt with changes much greater and more profound. He gave up his face time with the father and all that he had, to walk out God’s calling.  He even did it without sinning.  What does that mean to us?  To me, it means that he is worthy to ask us to live in a new way to bring the Father glory.  When something is hard for us, Jesus understands.  We don’t have to hide the struggle. He’s ready and waiting for us to invite him into the furnace, and he has the power to help us walk through the flames.  Swiss cheese or no Swiss cheese.

Light of Dawn

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:15-16

In all their suffering he also suffered,
    and he personally rescued them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them.
    He lifted them up and carried them
    through all the years.  Isaiah 63:9

Trust Falling

My hands are outstretched, ready to catch him.  Poised a few steps above me on the staircase, our toddler pumps his arms a few times, squats his legs, and gives a little jump, falling into my arms.  I cuddle him close and praise him.  “Good job!”  I rest my cheek on his head and and he contentedly sucks his thumb.  I’m proud of him for pushing against gravity, for letting go, for trusting me in the fall.  And the Lord whispers on my heart how I am doing the same thing in my walk with Him.

This summer I had a chance to do it for real, to jump off of a 15-foot cliff into a Guatemalan river pool.  It was terrifying.  It was glorious.  I got water up my nose.  I had to do it a second time so that I could really enjoy the experience, because the first jump was purely to prove to myself that I could.

Now, as our family walks out the path that the Lord has set before us, as we engage his heart for the nations and hear His call toward full-time global outreach, I feel like the toddler at the top of the staircase.   The gravity of our stuffed house, our stable income, our life-giving, English-speaking church all feels so comfortable.  But the Papa’s hands are outstretched, and His voice is encouraging me, “Trust me, I’ll catch you.”