The breakers

If you are really quiet here at night you can hear the surf as it comes in and breaks up on the reef near the shore. It is a beautiful sound. During the day, you can see the white caps of waves a fair distance away from the shore. When the white caps contrast against the blue sea, it is one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see. That which sounds beautiful at night and looks beautiful during the day is actually a pretty violent process. The reef seems to beat water up pretty hard by the time it gets to the beach. I suspect that if one were trying to get through there in a boat, you might find out the hard way that this seemingly beautiful approach is rather perilous.
I have discovered a similar truth in the last week. The place that we live in is beautiful. The people that we live with are dedicated and wonderful Christian missionaries. We know that we are supposed to be here. But coming here is difficult and learning to live here is costly. If you don’t know the way, there are plenty of breakers. I have been trying so hard to hold it together the last couple of weeks – it is time to let a little bit of out here in these pages. I’ve been rushing around trying to keep language school, work, missionary work, parenting, and Christmas for our family all in some sort of balance and doing a terrible job of it. It is just too much to do and instead of recognizing that, I’ve just kept going and going.
The stress of living in a new country is a constant, tiring stress that says nothing is really familiar, nothing is common. We love the newness of it and the “differentness” of it – but it carries a price in stress and worry. Is it safe? Does it cost too much? Can I eat that? How do I say that in Spanish – how do I get what I mean across to the person across the counter? Are my kids safe? Are they happy? What street was that on? How do I get there? Questions like these are just never ending right now. It brings with it a tiredness of the soul that I wasn’t expecting. Christmas has magnified this a bit. We feel obligated to try and get the right gifts for the kids. We want to send meaningful cards off to our friends and family in the states so that they know how much we miss them. The normally busy La Ceiba has turned in to a mad house of traffic and people. There isn’t a mall in every city here – the mall and the shopping in La Ceiba serve a huge surrounding rural area. All of the people in Northern Honduras seemed to be in La Ceiba last week for Christmas shopping. We are out here in the relative tranquility of the hospital now, but I hear from those that went to town today that it was even worse.
As someone who has been pretty good at worrying before ever coming here, I’ve found many new ways to do so and frankly, I’ve been losing my grip on reality over the last two weeks as I’ve rushed around to try and meet too many deadlines, too many expectations – all placed on myself by me. The thing that I’ve lost is that sense that God is in control and that I just have to follow His leading. A counselor once told me that I was trying to “elbow my way into the Trinity”, I still think that it is the best description of me when I’m struggling that I’ve ever heard.
The sin of trying to control one’s own destiny may not be very high on the list when we think about sin – but I guarantee that for me it is dreadfully evil. I completely deny God’s sovereignty over my life when I try and be sovereign over my own life. Business and burdens become the “breakers” that my efforts crash over as I try to accomplish everything, leaving nothing undone but the most important things. When God says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”, I believe He means that we are allowed to cease striving when we come to Christ. We don’t have to impress anyone (or everyone, in my case). We don’t have to control everything. We can recognize that God loves us simply for who we are in Christ. We can realize that Christ is in control and that we no longer have to try and maintain that illusion that we are in control. What a wonderful blessing! Cease to strive; rest in the completed work of Christ. What a beautiful concept. This thought rescues me just as I am about to be strewn to bits in the breakers. Suddenly a pathway through the reefs appears before me:

John 15:5 (New International Version)
5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

The sound of the waves grows louder as I end tonight. They are a blessed reminder in that they toil without ceasing, yet they never cross the boundary that God has marked out for them. Please help me to abide in you Jesus that I may bear fruit and please help me remember that apart from you, I can do nothing.