I’ve done a lot of reflecting since returning home from a mission trip to a third world country. Reentering my reality was nothing like I expected. I expected relief to be home, happiness to be back to the lifestyle to which I am accustomed and a feeling of comfort and security in returning to my familiar environment. I’m not really sure why I expected to feel these emotions upon returning as months before I left God had shaken me out of my comfortable reality. Being catapulted to a place of no longer feeling secure in my own environment, which also led to being depressed and desperate. In fact, there was very little peace in my life when I left on mission.
The emotions I witnessed while being on mission were also very different from what I expected. In my identity of a middle class American I expected to see these people, who have so little in comparison, in a state of desperation and unhappiness. Instead they taught me the meaning of joy. We tend to connect joy with favorable circumstances and being comfortable, but the only true joy is joy in Christ. God given joy.
Psalm 68:3 says “But the righteous shall be glad; they shall exult before God; they shall be jubilant with joy!”
I saw people in what we would describe as desolate circumstances joyfully praising and worshiping God more passionately than I think I have ever seen here in my home country. The emotion in their voices, their closed eyes, their outstretched arms and up turned hands transcended the language barrier. You could feel their joy, praise and gratitude to Jesus in every song, every message and every prayer. And their joy was transferrable. It completely resonated with me and I was joyful, humbled and felt the very presence of God during the entire trip.
So upon returning home I felt void and miserable, nothing like my preconceived notion of how I would feel. It took time to process why I felt this way and didn’t want to be here, all while I longed to be there. In conversations with others it became very apparent that returning home to routine daily life just felt mundane in comparison. To feel God’s presence so strongly for that length of time and be amongst such joy now felt like a huge piece of me was missing. I was also shown that when we are too comfortable and in need for nothing then it is easy to nonchalantly thank God for our abundant blessings and praise Him, but when you have so little then you desperately seek God and His presence in every aspect of your life while truly thanking Him for everything He has given you.
Jesus told us in Matthew 19:24 “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”
Jesus illustrates to us how when we are in need for or want nothing physically that it is difficult to truly humble ourselves before Jesus and know that it is all worthless. To recognize that He is all we need. We become attached to material things and a certain lifestyle and don’t see our spiritual need for Him.
I haven’t sold all my possessions since getting back, but I do now see that all my life I had put too much emphasis on having things in an effort to be fulfilled. And that it is all worthless in comparison to Jesus and having a close, personal, intimate and dependant relationship with Him, as that is the only way to feel fulfilled. I also had to be shown that my being miserable while home was selfish as God had given me this incredible gift to have this experience and if I don’t come home and use everything He showed me while I was there then it is like not being appreciative of or redeeming His gift. That I need to live out the lessons that He taught me while I was there, wherever He has me at the present moment.