Monday, January 21, 2013

Never ending loop

Why I was hired by IBM is one of the greatest mysteries of all time.  I had been an elementary school teacher, a school librarian, a flight attendant and an actress/model.  I didn't really know what IBM did.  The only math I took in college was Math For Elementary School Teachers ("What is a 2?") and certainly no business or computer classes.  So you can imagine everyone's surprise when I returned from one of the 5 week training classes, the technical one, as a Top Performer and with a new found love of computer programming!  Go figure.   One thing I learned about is a programming faux pas called the "never ending loop."  This is a routine in which the computer performs a repeating sequence of steps with no way of stopping. It just goes round and round and round.  

My spiritual journey seems to be a type of never ending loop.  I start as a "baby" then mature a bit then I feel I am right back where I started as a baby again.  I guess the truth is I don't go back to square one.  It is two steps forward, one step back.   The more you learn the more you realize you don't know or understand.

I am beginning my third year as a full time missionary.  Sometimes I look back and realize I have really matured as a Christian and a missionary.    Of course, there are the "worldly" ways in which I have matured.  My Spanish continues to improve (although I still make hilariously dumb mistakes.), I know more about the Honduran culture, I have become much more self-sufficient here... Spiritually, I also have matured.  I can see Jesus more and more.  I understand more than ever that I am totally dependent on Him.  My prayer life is deeper.  On the other hand... I realize what a baby I am spiritually.  I miss seeing Jesus all the time.  I flail around trying to handle things on my own.  My prayer life is often an after thought.   

Here is one example of this.   Recently I spent a great deal of time with a vociferous atheist.  The Spiritual Baby  me spent time tsk tsk tsking, shaking my head self-righteously.  "Ha!," I would think smugly, "too bad he doesn't get it like I do."   The (somewhat) Spiritually Mature me was convicted by some of the Scripture appointed for the day:  

I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false.  You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.  Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Rev 2:2-4

Bummer.  So working hard isn't enough.  I have to work hard AND love.  Sigh. One step back...  So I began to pray for him.   My prayer is that his heart is softened enough to be open to the nudging of the Holy Spirit...  

Today was the first day of a medical brigade.  They are alot of work, very intense all day long, but I love brigades.   It is easy to be spiritually mature during these days.  The patients are so beautiful, the work of each member of the team done with love, prayer abounds, the look of relief and gratitude on the faces of the patients leaving the pharmacy with a bag full of meds is heartwarming.  It often takes so little to do so much.  And that is true in everyday life as well.  A smile, a pat on the hand, a hug, letting someone go first, reacting with love instead of anger, a prayer.

One more example:  Late last year I spent the day in a WalMart store with some of the Atlanta team asking for donations of school supplies for LAMB.  I watched a woman limp through the parking lot and into the store.   I handed her a flyer only to learn that she had just lost her job.  She would love to help but just couldn't.  She also explained that her achilles tendon had "popped" but she didn't have health insurance.  I told her I was sorry and watched her limp away.  ARGGHH!  Why didn't I pray with her on the spot?   The Spiritual Baby thought, "What if someone saw me praying for her???"  I immediately regretted it and fretted for quite awhile.  But God is good and He gave me another opportunity.  She limped past me on her way out.  "Can I pray for you?"  She smiled and nodded her head.  The Spiritually Mature thought, "What if someone sees us praying!  I hope so!"  She left with a joyful look on her face and, I sensed, a renewed feeling of peace.  Two steps forward...till the next step back!