A Life Spent Dying

Last Friday, us out on the Mesa Team headed up to Tepeyac for another retreat.  Usually this would include a large group of spastic middle or high schoolers, 22238498 different duties, and approximately 3 hours of sleep. 

I love it, but it can be exhausting.

This weekend, rather than leading a retreat, we joined the students of Arizona State’s Newman Center on (yes, on!) retreat.

What a freaking blessing!  In the midst of such a fast paced, Spirit led (read: completely random) lifestyle, we were called to just rest in His presence for 2 days. 

Rather than leading worship, I participated. 

Rather than leading prayer, I was prayed over. 

Rather than facilitating a small group, I was able to simply converse.

So anyways… (I’m all about smooth transitions) we started off the first session of the retreat with some questions to pray on.  Two of them really stuck.

How is my relationship with God right now?

          and

What are the obstacles keeping you from a deeper relationship with Him?

As I prayed into these questions, the Lord revealed to me that, while He delighted in me as His son, He wished that I would offer Him my whole heart, my whole trust daily.

Now I know that this is something a lot of us missionaries struggle with.  Our thoughts and prayers are often directed towards our futures, our vocations, our desire for more control over our lives.  In that, though, the Lord is constantly calling us, calling me, back to the present: the vocation to be missionary now, to be fully present today.  To trust Him that in living out the present moment to the fullest, He will take care of my tomorrows.

It’s a struggle…

As we entered into our small group conversation I shared all this with my group, how God was calling me to deeper trust.  For some reason though, this didn’t stick well with one of the guys it the group.  He began to tell me how, in his eye’s, my becoming a missionary, leaving school, selling all my crap, and moving across the country, obviously meant I had some great trust in God.

This didn’t sit well with me, but I don’t think I could verbalize it well then. 

Thankfully, I was on retreat, so the Lord provided plenty of time for me to reflect on it.  This is a little something of what I got:

I think there’s beauty in moments of great sacrifice, and honestly, becoming a missionary took a lot of trust.  I know those moments of anxiety through the discernment and application process and that final “yes” to this mission will be one of those life defining moments for me.  It took all I had to leave my life behind. 

But that is just one moment.

I think about the martyrs of our Church and their moments like this.  The moments they were faced with that choice to affirm their faith, to say “yes” with the consequence of death, or to back out into comfort.  While that is a trust I pray I will have some day, I can’t help but think that what makes these people saints is not this moment of death, but the life they led up to that day.  Not the day they died, by a lifetime of days spent dying.

It’s along the same lines as virtue.  Virtue is not a spontaneous burst of effort, but a firm and habitual disposition towards the good.

I don’t want to be content with these moments of great faith.  I want them to be a reflection of a life spent dying to myself daily.  And honestly, I’m struggling with that.  I get caught in my worry, my anxiety, my hope for things to come.  But I think that struggle is a grace.  It’s in that struggle that God is working.

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”         – 2 Cor. 11:30

After all, it’s in our weakness that the abundant grace of God shines through.

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