This is a blog post that has been rattling around in my brain for quite some time and I just haven't had time to post it.
The background: For any readers who don't know, Bill and I spend time in Mazatlan Mexico with the Vineyard Church there running outreach clinics for the poor. We have been going down for 5+years. The story of how we got started is a blog post for another day but the bottom line is that we both feel as if this is where God wants us. Bill heard God say that this is what we should do so we have done it. Three times a year for a week for the past 5 years we have assembled teams, bought meds, traveled, served, worked, sweated, laughed, loved with our now great friends who live and serve in Mazatlan. We have had teams of 4 with us being the only medical providers (shout out to Cam and Steve) and teams of 27. When I got pregnant, some thought our mission would change. I did miss one trip when Lucas was 4 weeks go but starting at 5 mo, we just took Lucas along. I find no better way to grow up than knowing that serving the poor is just part of life. Being in Mexico with Mommy and Daddy is just part of life.
The issue: Mexico is getting more dangerous. Th
e drug cartels are creating violence in this beloved city of ours. Mazatlan is having escalation in violence. Most of the violence is drug on drug with very few bystander casualties (if any) and the only way we would be hurt is if we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. To be honest, that is how you can get hurt or killed anywhere. I had been really struggling with continuing to take Lucas and my parents. Bill and I have 'bought into' this vision we have from God; the volunteers we take on our team know the risks but Lucas is just an innocent little child who we 'drag' there. My folks only come to take care of Lucas and I wrestled with the notion that I was being selfish. Putting my beloved child and parents in harms way seems some days like too big a risk. Leaving Lucas at home is an option but we now go for 2 weeks twice a year and that means missing a month of his life every year and I'm just not cool with that. So this is where I found myself and my heart a few weeks ago. I started to pray. What am I really afraid of? What does all this boil down to? Should we continue to go?
The heart of the matter: I realized I am fearful and don't trust God enough to take care of my child. I realized I don't actually believe that God loves Lucas more than I do. I realized I don't actually believe that anyone loves their child with the painful all consuming love that I love Lucas with. I know that sounds crazy. I see my friends with their kids or even my parents with me and I think 'surely they love their kids but they cannot possibly love their kids like I love Lucas'. I realized I was treating God like a buffet line; picking and choosing where I wanted to believe and where I wanted him and where I just wanted to pass and do it all myself. I am terrified of something happening to Lucas. I am terrified.of.living.my.life.without.him. The fear is IMMOBILIZING.
From that thought to today: So I started sharing with those I trusted the most and asked for prayer. I shared with a woman in Mazatlan who we work very closely with about my fears. She wrote me back an email that made me cry out to God. We don't serve a God of fear, she said. Tell Jesus to take your fear and don't live it in, she said. You have to believe that God knows the days you have with Lucas either one more or a zillion more, she said. Trust God who does love Lucas more, she said. God gave you your mother's heart and trust him with all your love for Lucas, she said. So I started. I started while running telling God that I trusted him and that I will not be afraid. The fears eased a bit slowly I felt my tight grip on Lucas in my heart loosening.
Then Bill and I started to read Romans together for Lent. I remember exactly where I was when I reread Romans 4:20-21 out loud " (speaking about Abraham) For he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised" So I am there. I am fully persuaded that God has power to do what He had promised. I know my God is mighty. My faith was coming back stronger than before. I started to repeat this verse in my head. Then I started to remember what God promises and what God doesn't promise. He doesn't promise that I won't get shot in drug related cross fire in Mexico when I am trying to serve the poor. He doesn't promise that my child will live a healthy long life free of pain or sorrow. He doesn't promise that my child will outlive me. He doesn't promise that I won't die in a plane crash. He doesn't promise that a drunk driver won't hop the curve and hit me when I'm out for a run or that someone not paying attention backs over my shopping cart carrying Lucas at HyVee. He doesn't promise me that Lucas won't get kidnapped walking two blocks home from school or that I don't get snatched out running even in daylight. He doesn't promise that I won't get hit by lightening or blown away in a tornado. He doesn't promise me that a pissed off patient who really wanted narcotics won't shoot me at work or come to my house and light it on fire. But what He does promise is to.be.with.us.always.period.
So in two weeks we will pack up Lucas, enough fruit snacks to feed a small nation, medicine, every DVD with elmo or thomas in it, our team, birthday presents, a new tricycle, running clothes, old shoes, my parents, sand toys, thomas themed birthday paraphernalia, enough chocolate to satisfy my lenten fast, treats for our ex-pat friends and we will head to Mazatlan. We will spend two weeks serving, loving, laughing, sweating in Mazatlan. We will celebrate Lucas' 2nd birthday there. We will be smart about going out after dark. We will stick close to our hotel. We will pray for safety and hold on to the promise of Christ that He.is.with.us.always.
We leave on Easter Sunday and that fact is not lost on me. We serve a God who is alive and on the move. He is here and there and with us and before us. He promises His Holy Spirit to guide us and live in us. He has risen from the grave. He has beaten death. He has overcome the dark powers of this world.
For I will not waver through unbelief regarding the promises of God, but will be strengthened in my faith giving glory to God being fully persuaded that God has power to do what He has promised.