One more post and we're all caught up, people.
Since I've written about what I did, I'll talk about what I've learned. I'm sure a lot of it is going to sound super cliché and typical, but I think a lot of the time things are cliché and typical for a reason. And you know what? Because I like how simplicity makes things significantly easier, I'm gonna be really straightforward.
"If you are saved by Jesus, you are part of a global Family."
I've said it before, but it's so worth saying I'll do it again. We serve the God of the universe, which certainly includes the whole of planet Earth. We are part of a global Church, it is our global Family, we are part of the Body. All those descriptions are whole things, yet when I was confronted with my outlook before I left or the majority of those in the States (at least what I see), I see a weird, totally unbiblical apathy to/distance from our distant fellow Christ followers. It doesn't even have to be that far, I see it in comparing churches across the street from each other. When was being a part of THE Church traded for being a part of a specific congregation, like it's some fan club and you can't support another church as being part of your Family? Of course, we have to use wisdom in who we support, but this is kind of ridiculous. Let's make it stop, people.
"Never outright judge people, you don't know them."
I am so guilty of this. Not that I would hate people, or even deny them opportunity, but I would absolutely assume what they were like before I got to know them. As if I, a tiny human, could know the depth of personality or knowledge or integrity in another person. Of course, you do get a sense of what someone is like based on how they CHOOSE to present themselves to the world, because the choosing says something. Would I trust a super tattooed guy who listens to his screamo music super loud and swears like a sailor to teach a fifth grade small group? Heck no. (Sorry, potentially super tattooed, screamo listening, swearing, potential Reader.) But I can't assume that's all he is, he could possess exceptional generosity or honesty or compassion for all I know. I'm simply saying that impressions only get you so far, and in no way tell the whole story. Once again, wisdom is fantastic.
"Missionaries are just like *insert whatever your job/role/education/status/disposition/skillset/interests are here*."
This is something we hear and agree with in our heads, but we hardly ever live with it as truth. Is it something special to "be a missionary"? Sure. But what makes it special? That we would "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" and really treat Jesus as Lord. When we say, "the Lord", that's a pretty serious deal. A lord is served with honor by his subjects of their own will, who seek to meet his purposes first, or he tells them to do something, and they do it. To be a missionary all you need to do is follow Scripture: "love the Lord your God", and obey what He's commanded. So to be a missionary really just requires that you love God and serve Him, which we should be doing everywhere.
(Side note: This is not a copout paragraph to feed how people to flippantly say, "Well, I serve in my church," and do nothing more. If you're not going, you're supporting. But if you call yourself a "supporter" and God tells you to go anywhere, even if it's just across the street, you'd darn well better do it.)
Seriously. Let's stop it, please. It accomplishes nothing, breeds laziness and selfishness, and makes us soft. Wimps. If you complain, you're a wimp. If I complain, I am a wimp. Jesus was not a wimp. We need to stop complaining and start thanking God for what we have. Whining about things is a slap in the face to a good God who has blessed us with every good thing we have, and continues to bless us despite our ridiculousness.
"Stop looking through a screen and look with your eyeballs."
Some background about what brought it to my attention might be good, I suppose. For the first month in Panama, I decided I was going to go without any form of communication/media from back home. That meant no Facebook, phone calls, email, news, whatever. And in this time I had the purest times with God, enjoyed new sights and sounds more, and just overall applied myself to life. We waste our time on our technology and use it to escape into a cheap, laughable copy of what we want out of life, rather than striving to actually live. Bored? Get out and do something you always say you wish you did, like running, or learning an instrument, or find a solitary place to talk to God and give Him the attention He deserves. Speaking for myself (because speaking for others in this coming statement would be kind of harsh), if I don't find something to do it's either straight up can't because I'm stuck in an empty room on the bottom of the ocean, or I'm lazy. And I don't think I've ever been stuck in an empty room on the bottom of the ocean.
"Stop freaking out/caring so much about...stuff."
Really what I've been learning about this is how wrapped up we get in stupid things. Petty arguments, preferences, what whoever said about whatever and how much we disagree with it. Too often we (I keep using this word because I'm included here) take up some cause or situation as our cross to bear without stopping to think if it's really worth it in the end. There are real things to get really upset about, like when Jesus actually DID something about the moneychangers in the temple (an actual problem worth his time). Jesus did something about whatever bothered him, or else it wasn't something he needed to jump into. We need to pick our fights for the glory of God.
"The 'all things' in Romans 8:28 means exactly what it says."
That's why it says, "all things". Nothing coming down the pipe surprises God, even if it's a bad thing like war or illness (...or a lost passport), and He works everything out for the good of those who love Him. I don't know about you, but I'd sure like to be one of those who love Him, because if you believe God is who He says He is, you can bet on that promise. On our end this means (aside from loving God, as it says so explicitly) to be teachable in all things, no matter what, and to choose to remain thankful. So hang tight and take God at His word.
So there you go, the main things I've learned since flying off for Panama until today.
Good golly. That took forever. And I see I'm quite fond of parentheses, run-ons, and a blunt writing style. I'll think about changing that, but no promises.
Onward, to serendipity.