The journey in the Middle East has finished, ladies and gentlemen! What an experience, what a nice fellowship we had with the team, what a power of God we saw, and what a lessons it taught. After all the talking, trying, persisting, enjoying and driving, my conclusion is that God wanted me to come here to learn rather than to teach. I was open to whatever would happen, good or bad, as I said on an earlier post, but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Now that it is all behind, I can see that our Lord wanted to teach me some things I would have never learned otherwise, and I went through the most beautiful and glorious disappointment you can imagine.
The first lesson was to learn his faithfulness. This was something crazy, since it made me
think about Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was asked an ultimate test of faith, to offer the son of the promise as a sacrifice on an altar… the kind of sacrifice that was offered in those days: death. We know the story, God provided the sacrifice and stopped Abraham just at the last minute, saying “For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.” If God is all-knowing, why the test? He knew exactly how much Abraham was willing to do for Him. But it was Abraham the one who needed to assure his own heart and faith in God, and needed to know that God would provide for any hard time of suffering if he stayed obedient to His calling. I needed to know that too.
With this I am not in any way implying I come close to what Abraham did for God, but on the contrary, that I had to learn to trust that God knows what he is asking from me, and that I need to stay at a place in which He is all I have to provide for my challenges, and that I can take on his tasks and missions with faith, obedience, dependence and a sacrificial heart.
The second one was about initiative. Paul said to preach in and out of time, when it is convenient and when it is not. Jesus sent us to all the nations, not just the ones we like. He sent us to everyone, not just to the ones we think are open. We can’t screen people at sight and distinguish with just common sense -or prejudice- who might respond, or who will be a person of peace (as described on Luke 10). Usually the ones we expect the least are the ones who respond. It was amazing to see that the ones I expected to reject us and persecute us were actually hungry, open, needy. Amazing to see how by just taking the initiative to bring healing, deliverance, and preaching repentance and faith to Jesus Christ, miracles and baptisms will happen. I had turned selective and passive in many ways. This journey gave me a practical lesson of what the power that is in all of us can do if we decide to manifest and use it instead of “letting Him” do everything. He has been given to us as Helper, not as doer.
The third one was about discipleship. After leaving every city, after baptizing in water and Holy Spirit, after finding open people, or meeting passive but hungry Christians, the question was always what will happen with them now. I trust the Holy Spirit can continue to lead them to all truth, as the Word says, as it happened with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts. But I can choose to lay back under those verses, or take all the other stories of Paul preaching and teaching, or the letter to the Hebrews that says that we all should be teachers, in a way or another.
Jesus said in the Great Commission, on Matthew 28:
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
Notice that when He spoke of discipleship He didn’t say “teaching them what I commanded you,” but “teaching them to OBEY what I commanded you.” This is not church sermons, bible studies, or seminary lessons, not even house church meetings. This is bring them into action, teach them to preach. Teach them to teach. Teach them to heal, to baptize, to cast out demons, to grow, to multiply and feed themselves.
The last one was what I have titled this post: a glorious disappointment. I am by nature in love with ruins. Where I come from we have plenty of abandoned forts and even entire cities, many ancient cultures that vanished with no record of what exactly happened to them. I grew up visiting many of these places and feeling an incredible awe about all the stories and people that inhabited those buildings. When I heard I was going to Israel, I expected that multiplied by a million… but it wasn’t so.
That was my joyful disappointment. I was there, where the Son of God walked, where the last times began, where church life was born. I saw the places, touched the stones, and felt… nothing. To my amazement, the realization that Jesus’ Holy Spirit is in me, and that I have Him closer than ever, came through walking through those places but not feeling they were bringing me a millimeter closer to my Savior. I have Him! He is in me!
The whole experience was like finding a jacket of my wife. It wouldn’t mean much to me right now, because I have fellowship with her every day of my life. Instead, if I found a jacket of my dad, who passed away when I was a teenager, I would treasure and value it so much more, because I haven’t seen him in so long and it would bring me a bit closer to him. Do you see the difference?
As we walked among those people, we saw how much many of them missed Jesus, and were brought in their emotions closer to Him by being there. On the contrary, we have the life and heartbeat of Him in us, and being there just makes us thankful and strengthens the calling to reach out to those who don’t have him. That we did, and saw unbelievable things happen.
Well, now the question for me is how will I apply these three lessons to my own life as a disciple, with my wife and my little children? I am meditating on it, but no clear idea is yet there. I still have about 3000 km to travel and work for Him. So enough adventures are on the waiting list, and still many more lessons await to be learned.