Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul into blossom.Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross
I’ve left my home in Colorado to spend time with my family before going to Bolivia. The “lasts” have begun. Last day of teaching at my Colorado school. Last Sunday with my Colorado church family. Last night in Colorado.
Leaving hurts. Sometimes it feels like a slow death. In some ways, it is.
The Physical Reality
I’m dying to my current way of life. I’m dying to being around my favorite people. I’m dying to even the godly comforts and joys that I currently enjoy.
I know that God is calling me on to Bolivia, and my love for Him and confidence in Him compels me onward in spite of the pain of goodbyes. The thing is, I can’t live in the United States and in Bolivia at the same time. This is part of God’s design. It’s the reality of the way the world works. It makes me all the more excited for that coming day when Jesus returns and I can spend eternity basking in His glory in perfect fellowship with my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.
For now, I must be separated from some of them for a time. But death to my current way of life isn’t the end of the story.
This death is just the gateway leading into a new life. In Bolivia, new people are going to grow dear to me. New students will delight my heart. I will have a new church family to serve and be served by. God will grow me in new ways and lead me through new adventures.
And I have no doubt that whenever it comes time for me to leave Bolivia, whenever the “lasts” begin again, it will be another very bittersweet season.
The Spiritual Reality
All of this has reminded me so much of the reality of being in the death and resurrection of Christ. Just as I cannot be both in the United States and in Bolivia, I cannot be both in sin and in Christ. (The comparison there is unfortunate but I think you understand what I mean. 😅)
…lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, … and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.Ephesians 4:22, 24, NASB
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.Romans 13:14, NASB
But as Lilias Trotter expounds on so beautifully in her book Parables of the Cross, it is not just the sinful old life we are to die to. Everything that passes into our hands, we give back to our Lord. Sometimes we lay these things down to die, but the end goal is never the death itself.
I’m not leaving Colorado for the sake of dying to life in Colorado. I’m not saying goodbye for the sake of not seeing those people anymore. Death is only the gate, the way out into newness of life.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.John 12:24, NASB
Death to sin, death to self, and death even to those good and godly things in life, when God calls us to lay them in the dirt. But we do not do this to be dead. We do this to gain the resurrection life that awaits the other side of the grave.
So as I am going through this process of long and slow goodbyes, I am keeping my eyes on the new life that is waiting. And through this God is teaching me to keep my eyes fixed on Him in all the big or small “deaths” I may face. Abundant life in Jesus has been set before me! And so the goodness of God calls me onward, even through the heartache.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Hebrews 12:1-3, NASB
He will never fail!
With eyes fixed on Jesus,
How you can be praying for me:
- For a fruitful time at home with my family and friends before I go to Bolivia
- For a joyful heart to serve God in every moment of being at home and glorifying Him even when I eat or drink or brush my teeth or play with my brothers or whatever I do
- For favor and wisdom as I make preparations to leave to Bolivia
Without Christ, not one step; with Him, anywhere!David Livingstone
Comrades in this solemn fight – this awful conflict with awful powers – let us settle it as something that cannot be shaken: we are here to live holy, loving, lowly lives. We cannot do this unless we walk very, very close to our Lord Jesus. Anything that would hinder us from the closest walk possible to us till we see Him face to face is not for us.Amy Carmichael, God’s Missionary