13 June 2011

Not There Yet

Last weekend we took a mini-vacay to Playa Hermosa on the Pacific Coast. We figured after 6 weeks down here we should probably make it to a beach. I was excited, because, well… I love the beach! I really don’t like being in landlocked places for too long because I start missing the ocean. (And yes, when you grow up 5 minutes from a beach, anything over about an hour drive from the ocean qualifies as “landlocked.”) Also, I thought it would be a nice comforting thing to be back at a beach since it’s one of the things I associate so much with my home in Florida. I was expecting it to make me feel better about being so far away from the places and people that I love, because, hey…maybe I can’t hug my friends but at least I have a beach!

Now, I’m going to admit something here that you may never hear me say again because, when you are as brilliant as I am it doesn’t happen often:


*Gasp!* I know, I know. Astonishing! I can’t believe it either! The trip to the beach was fun and a nice change of pace, but instead of being a pleasant substitute for Daytona and making one less thing that I had to miss… instead, it just made me incredibly homesick. :-/ I know you’re probably thinking, “So what’s new? You talk about hard days of missing home all the time!” Everyone may not distinguish between the two like I do, but to me there is a big difference between missing something, and being homesick. For the most part, on a daily basis I miss people. It’s the hardest, and the most constant. Occasionally, I miss things. A favorite something will cross my mind and I’ll think “Aw, I miss Publix subs!” or “Man, I really wish I could go to Target right now.” But those are fleeting thoughts that seldom linger. And rarely I miss home, the actual physical location of my house, my church, and my beach. I usually just think of it in fond memories. 

But as I lay on the dark sand of Playa Hermosa, so different from home and yet so familiar, all I could think was “I wish I were in Daytona right now.” Honestly, who goes to a beautiful Costa Rican beach with a backdrop of lush tropical jungle and thinks, “I’d rather be in Daytona”?  In Daytona with the irksome tourists and hotels and often-murky water and red sand that gets glued to your skin and the heat…the sizzling scorching heat? Who would take that trade? You guessed it. ME. It didn’t help that I knew that at that very moment most of my friends were spending a nice day on MY beach at home. It also didn’t help that Playa Hermosa is basically an outpost of American surf culture. Maybe a half mile long and one block wide, the “town” feels like all the Americans came to surf and never left. Signs are in English, hotels and restaurants are run by Americans, everyone takes dollars, and American surfers crowd the waves. Even the hostel we stayed at had a link on its website to my favorite surf shop in my hometown.

Although I know how to surf I don’t consider myself a surfer by any means, but that surf culture is part of my hometown and so very familiar. It was nice to talk to other Americans and work on my tan, but everything there just reminded me of home. I thought about it, wondering if I was really just missing people and projecting it onto a place. I considered: if I could push a button and be in Daytona right now, but none of my friends and family were there, would I do it? Yes, I thought without hesitation. Obviously I’d rather have the people than the place any day of the week, but at that moment, if that was my option, I would have gladly taken it. I missed my pink beach chair, the flat white sand, the red lifeguard stands, the intense sun, and the swimmable water. I missed driving down A1A in my beloved Gerald, sandy and sticky with saltwater, with my sunroof down and my radio blasting. I missed my house, my cluttered bedroom, my bathroom with a BATHTUB. My church, my stores, my familiar streets and favorite places. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I was just simply homesick.

Sunday morning I woke up, grabbed my Bible and went down for some quiet time on the beach. My heart had been feeling restless for some time now, and I was looking forward to some alone time with Jesus by the water, just like I normally do at home when I need some refreshment for my soul. I flipped open the Bible aimlessly and opened to read Luke 9:

The Cost of Following Jesus
 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
 58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.”
   But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” 62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Ouch. Talk about getting smacked in the face by the Word of God. Those are some challenging statements there. Most of us have heard them numerous times, but how often do we stop to think what that looks like in our lives? It was a huge conviction to me as I sat there on that beach, missing my loved ones and missing my home. When you leave most everyone and everything precious to you behind, it’s so hard to not spend a great deal of time looking back. But what did that say? “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” I don’t know that there’s anyway to soften the seriousness of that verse, and we shouldn’t try. But I really wish I could. I wish that was one of those “ambiguous” verses with lots of room for interpretation. I want to say, well that’s a conditional command just for that one person. Because, like so many other verses in the Bible, if I hold my life up next to it for comparison, I fall so very short.

I was reminded of David Platt’s discussion of this passage in his book, Radical. (Great book. Read it.)
“[Jesus] was simply and boldly making it clear from the start that if you follow Him, you abandon everything- your needs, your desires, even your family.”

I’d like to say that I read that passage, everything snapped into place in my heart and mind, and I skipped gleefully on without another thought of what I’ve left behind. But although it was a precious and powerful time with Jesus, He is still working this out in me. Later in the week, while I was looking up a quote I once heard, I came across a website with a bunch of excellent Christian quotes. The first one challenged me. The next one slapped me in the face. The third one punched me in the gut. On and on they went. I love a good quote, but I wished I hadn’t read these. Here’s a few of my favorites:

Most people do not want to know the will of God in order to do it. They want to know it in order to consider it.

Partial obedience is not obedience at all; to single out easy things that do not oppose our lusts, which are not against our reputation, therein some will do more than they need; but our obedience must be universal to all God's commandments, and that because He commands it. Empty relationships are nothing; if we profess ourselves God's servants and do not honor Him by our obedience, we take but an empty title.
-Richard Sibbes

Most of us labor under the delusion that we have every right to our lives; that we have the right to go where we wish, do as we please, live as we choose, and decide our own destiny. We do not. We belong to God. He made us for himself. He chose us in Christ out of love, from before the foundation of the earth to be his own. He has bought us twice over, both through his generous death and also by his amazing resurrection life.
-Phillip Keller

God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will, a will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.
-Elisabeth Elliot

It is true that He does sometimes require of us things that to others seem hard. But when the will is once surrendered, the revolutionized life plans become just the plans that are most pleasant, and the things that to others seem hard, are just the things that are easiest and most delightful. Do not let Satan deceive you into being afraid of God's plans for your life.
-(Reuben Archer) R. A. Torrey

The true follower of Christ will not ask, "If I embrace this truth, what will it cost me?" Rather he will say, "This is truth. God help me to walk in it, let come what may!"
-A. W. Tozer

Yep. I got totally owned by some of those. Looking at yourself and realizing how far you are from where you are supposed to be as a follower of Christ…well that’s never fun. Thank Jesus, He’s not finished with me yet! 

P.S. I like mail. A lot. Getting mail pretty much makes my day. So, if you're bored and thinking, "Hmm, what should I do with all this free time?" Well... it's only 98 cents to send a happy note to Costa Rica. Just sayin'. And yes, this was a shameless plug.

(Email me for my mailing address here: lyndseysnewgroove@gmail.com)

No comments:

Post a Comment