There’s a funny thing that happens when you desire to leave the situation you’re in, but you’re stuck there for a long time. That place becomes home without you really realizing that it’s happening. Your heart is becoming molded to that place and those people and that culture whether you choose to recognize it or not. I wanted to go home the first day I entered Zambia. Home to the USA. Sure, I wanted and often prayed that that feeling would go away and that I would start enjoying my time abroad, but that never really happened to the extent that I wanted it to. In the middle of my doubt and homesickness, I was met with the beauty of our perfect Father. What a generous God who would not dismiss our frustrations, but also not allow them to affect the good work He planned to do in us through the fire. He’s so good!!
I tried for a long time to figure out how to sum up all that God did in me in this time abroad so that I can share it with everyone. There were so many things and so much has changed that I’ve come to the understanding that there is no way to do that. This frustrated me at first, and it’s why this post has taken me about two weeks to write, but I have peace now that the ability to share each of the things I learned will eventually come. For now, you get the snippets and to see the changes and truth being lived out.
So while I surely have a home in Zambia now, and more than likely I will be back someday, I’m back at my other home in Holland, MI. And the first couple days back were some of the most beautiful in my entire life. I can’t explain to you the love that is here, I really can’t. There’s nothing like sweet reunions happening in the midst of the exchanging of wedding vows and Sunday morning worship gatherings. Call me a sap, but there’s just something about being surrounded by that much deep love. Not to mention all the hugs and dancing and laughs that came along with all of it. Homecomings are beautiful. And I was reminded of just how dear and wonderful that final homecoming is going to be… with seeing sweet Jesus and knowing I never have to leave again.
I think one of the greatest parts of this homecoming was the worship. Feeling so loved by this family and knowing the love each of us has doesn’t even compare to the love we all have for the Father. Because HE’s what it’s all about. And when I think about this fact I also realize that one of the biggest things that happened to me on this trip was falling even more in love with my God. I’ve become irrevocable (at least that’s what I’d call it). So deeply stuck on the gospel–so deeply stuck on Him that nothing really phases me as much as it did before. I know who I am and who He is in a way I’ve never quite so boldly known it before. A lot of people keep telling me that I look different, and I’d hope so, because I spent so long looking into the face of Jesus that I’d expect not to look the same. It was beautiful and it was painful and it was 100% worth it. One of the songs the Lord spoke to me through this summer says this: “Your love tears me up and when it’s done puts me together.”
There’s a part in The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader where a fearful and self-seeking boy named Eustace is turned into a dragon. It was only once he saw this ugliness on the outside that he started to realize the ugliness that was always there on the inside. It was also only after trying to get it off himself that he realized there was only One who was going to change him back into a boy again. This is how Eustace explains what happens when He allows the lion, Aslan, to begin the process of changing him back into a boy.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.”
This is Eustace. I’ve always disliked him as a character. To me, he didn’t seem to have much point. He starts out so disgusting on the inside and, sure he changes, but I was always stuck on how awful he was at the start. And yet, I now realize that I am Eustace. And after all the beautiful work of allowing me to turn into a “dragon” and then the hard, painful work of making me new again, He took it one step further. Jesus turned to me and asked, “Now, who do you say that I am?”. Okay, maybe He didn’t use those exact words at first, and I know there’s a lot of deep, theological truth in that question when Jesus asks it in the gospel, but there was something uniquely rich about when and how He asked it of me. It started in the middle of Him ripping the dragon skin off of me and, though I’ve answered Him, He hasn’t stopped asking me yet. He’s forced me to think deeply about who I actually proclaim Him to be… who I say He is. What do I say and then what do I really, truly believe about the man, Jesus, and have I allowed what I believe to affect every part of me and the core of who I am? Or have I let it be something that has changed me once, but doesn’t continue to change me every single day? It’s in daily situations now that He keeps asking me, “Brooke, who do you say that I am? Do you believe it? Is it affecting how you’re acting and how you’re thinking?” And when I answer, now, I’m pushed closer to Him than every before. Fear and doubt don’t have the same room in my heart as they did before, either. I’m tempted, but there’s simply not enough room for them to stay.
I watched the movie Interstellar for the first time on the long flight home. I loved every second of it and the small part of my brain that caused me to double major with Physics had an absolute field day. Since then, my overactive and overdramatic brain has decided to equate the epic of the movie with my own life. (Ya…. that happens sometimes. Give me a few more days, it’ll cool down.) And while maybe what’s happening in my life isn’t quite as ‘stellar’ as Interstellar, I’ve found myself in fearful moments repeating the chilling snippet of the famous poem recited in the movie:
“do not go gentle into that good night,
old age should burn and rave at close of day;
rage, rage against the dying of the light.
though wise men at their end know dark is right,
because their words had forked no lightning they
do not go gentle into that good night,
rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Let me be completely honest… I’m scared to start this next season. I was all ready to leave the last one, but moving forward is a much different story when you’re living it. I felt validated in my fear when reciting this poem to myself to muster up courage. And as long as I did move forward, I could build up the darkness into as looming of a state as I needed for that fear to be validated, but when Jesus keeps asking me, “Brooke, who do you say that I am?”, He’s been making me realize something very important. Living in fear, even over the littlest things, will always lead to capital F Fear, and capital F Fear is a deep pit that you can’t climb out of on your own. While I do have a savior that’s willing to get down in the pit with me and boost me on out, I don’t want to keep falling into those pits because it hurts and even once I’m out there’s bruises from the fall. I need to keep my eyes on my savior when I’m up on solid ground. He promises to guide us around those pits, although we can’t forget: That doesn’t mean it’s not a scary route. It just means I shouldn’t start guiding myself, because as a human I tend to lean into fear and fall into Fear as if it’s my job. My courage comes from never looking away from my savior. Your focus is what makes all the difference. So, I leave you for now with our EXP video and with the poem from above, rewritten with the mindset only a daughter of heaven can have.
do not go gentle into that new dawn,
courage should grow and thrive at early morn;
rise, rise and see the shining of the light.
though wise men with set minds think dark is right,
because their world had forsaken light… we
do not go gentle into that new dawn,
rise, rise and see the shining of the light.
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brooke Jeries • 2015 International Immersion Intern