Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bring On The Rain

[what's brewing: half-empty? half-full?]

Email has taken on a whole new significance since we’ve been here, for better or worse. There are some emails that I feel I must respond to out of duty, some that quite honestly feel like work, and a handful that are simply enjoyable to read. Some people have the ability to write exactly as they talk when you’re face-to-face, and those are my favorite emails to read.

I received an email like that from a friend of mine this week. I recently wrote to her about how I am doing several months into this experience. I talked about the occasional waves of homesickness that catch me by surprise. I have felt frustrated and thrown over my stress-threshold when homesickness is added to the everyday challenges but I am slowly growing accustomed to it.

Her response has encouraged and challenged me this week. She writes:

I know you. You are choosing to live your life with purpose and to serve with great love despite your personal feelings about home. I admire that selflessness so much. The cause of Christ there is more important to you than your own happiness. This, my dear, pleases God's heart. I will pray for strength for you as you push through the work you've been asked to do... and that your heart will be overflowing with joy in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Joy is something He gives, and I will pray that He showers you with it this week. There's this song by MercyMe that responds to the issue of how anyone can praise the Lord in the midst of dire circumstances -- they sing, "How could my circumstances ever change who I forever am in YOU?" I love that line. It's from a song called "Bring the Rain", and I love that they're not afraid to sing it. I am going to pray that the rain in your life will bring God glory, for that is its intent (and I wouldn't say that if I hadn't been asked to walk through some rainy days myself).

This was just what I needed to hear this week.

The timing was perfect, and I absolutely love the way God can use the people in my life to remind me of his truth and love when it becomes clouded in my mind. I felt a small twinge in my stomach when I read that line from my friend's email – the cause of Christ is more important to you than your own happiness. I believe the cause of Christ is far more important than my own happiness, but somehow I forgot that this week when I was feeling overwhelmed and stretched in too many directions. My happiness is secondary to his cause and the holiness he is trying to create within me.

The rain in my life is intended to bring glory to God, and having been reminded of that, I’m ready to go dance in the rain.


Grammy said...

Homesickness is the pits and it comes in waves sometimes totally unexpected. Like at the ocean some waves you jump over and some take you by suprize and you come up laughing and others have a dangerous undertow... Sometimes I forget the big picture and want to go back to Egypt(Sarah Groves song)

CA RN to Honduras Missionary said...

I must say, having been on the field, I've come to an awareness of how far away family can seem, and yet just tantalizingly close via e-mail or video chat on-line. God has blessed this decades missionaries with the beauty of the computer and all it brings with it - so praise God for that to help me through the tough times including those "perfect" e-mails, or those care-packages that come at "just the right time". Go God!

michmer4 said...

bring on the rain - i love that word picture. the day after i read this post, my 3 yr old son and i had been outside collecting eggs when we heard the rain coming. i ran inside and turned around to see him dancing. it's been months since we've had any rain. last night, it wasn't home sickness that hit me but an aspect of my host culture that i thought i'd come to accept, but was quickly reminded how irritating it is. That night i was reading hebrews 4 which talks about sabboth rest and i was gently reminded that i am not only a visitor in this country but on this planet. i needed the rain (and still need it) to keep my focus, to watch what God is doing in this place and simply enjoy being in his will. Thanks for the reminder.

i try to read your blog weekly, but alas, internet isn't all that reliable. and i am new to blogs and how to post etc - i am writing from tanzania

Ellie said...

I love the comment from your friend, "I know you." The relief of hearing that when sometimes we doubt ourselves, wondering if we are really.... It is good to have friends.

The other feeling that I had reading this was confusion. It is not that I don't face homesickness. I do. It is just that it is such an undefined feeling. Having grown up as a MK in different countries, served in other ones, and now living in another one still, I have trouble defining what home is. I feel homesick often, but I can't figure out what I am homesick for. There is no place where I would feel perfectly at home, no place where I would not miss another place, and no place that I could imagine being "settled" in. I am at times simply homesick for memories... for times and places which don't anymore exist, groups who are now scattered again.

I feel fractured, in many pieces. At home easily anywhere, but also nowhere. When waves of homesickness hit, there is also an undefined longing for a place I do not know.

But we go on. One day, heaven. I think I'll settle there.

Kara said...

After about 8 years overseas, I am experiencing a whole new level of homesickness. My sister had twins last year, and now we watch them on the webcam, and I have never felt such a strong desire to be there with her.

My parents are here visiting, and when the babies saw them, they were so excited--more animated than I've ever seen them. I am counting the cost anew, as I realize that these nieces don't even know I'm a real person--just a face on the computer.

God gave me a special gift in your post, as I haven't even thought to call it 'homesickness' until I read your blog! Thanks for writing where you're at, to connect with where I am!

Melissa said...

thank you for this post. I needed to read this today.

JenniB said...

Ellie, When my daughter graduated from Ukarumpa High School in PNG, the speaker, himself an MK, encouraged the kids to take hold of the privilege they had as MKs to be able to REALLY grasp the Scriptures which speak of heaven as our only home, and God's exhortation to regard ourselves as travellers on earth. May more of us be homesick for heaven.

JenniB said...

"never really crossed my mind to turn my back on you" - Wow, to me in the midst of a rain-storm those words and others in the song are just so far from my experience. I more identify with David's rantings in Psalms, or the father who cried, "I believe, help my unbelief" or even Peter, when asked "Do you also want to leave?" who replied, "Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life" It always seems to me that he's barely hanging on - He's knows the truth is with Christ, and he doesn't have any choice, but it's hardly the victorious tone of this "super-Christian" writing the Mercy Me song.


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