In 2006 I took my first trip to Brazil and saw things I never expected. People who were poor, people who had nothing, people who couldn’t imagine the world we live in with cellphones, iPods, laptops and everything we want at our fingertips. They had nothing but pure joy. Joy in God. Joy in each other. Joy in knowing what lay ahead of them because of hope in Jesus. They have joy in relationship. It was an incredible experience and it began to change my heart and my life…and my desire to know God. I came home a very different person from the person who had first boarded the plane.
I learned early in life to maintain relationships. There was the picture everyone needed to see and there was the stuff I needed to “work on” (another time for “hide”). In my faith tradition, understanding the rules and doctrine was more important than honest relationships. James 5:16 meant we went down front to confess. Few people did because they knew a bunch of people would be talking about them at Luby’s while eating lunch…but that’s what we were supposed to do. We didn’t let people in, we just talked about what life was supposed to look like and we made sure to point out the people who weren’t doing it right. Easier to focus on someone else, right?
I came home and begin to pray that God would reveal Himself to me and open my eyes to what He wanted me to see. I asked to see things through the eyes of God, asked to hear things through the ears of God and asked to speak His words. I asked Him to prepare me to reach others and be effective in building the kingdom. I asked Him to begin to restore relationships and build new ones.
I never expected the pain that would come from my prayers.
Grace and peace.