When we as church family only see each other a couple times a week, we can usually pull off a false impression that we have it all together. We actually do this pretty well through sharing superficial smiles in the hallways and surface level responses when we ask how the other is doing.
But when we travel with one another halfway around the world, this false pretense shatters.
Don’t get me wrong; we have had incredible, mountain-top experiences together this week in Lebanon…literally as we haveexplored the mountains overlooking Beirut and the Mediterranean Sea and have hiked through the cedars of Lebanon in the Barouk Forest, over a mile above sea level.
And there have certainly been spiritual mountain-top experiences as well. Deep conversations about what God is doing here at Dar El Awlad. Meaningful connections with the children and staff who have not only welcomed us into our homes but also into their lives. Times of worship and prayer with our team and the various friends we’ve made along our journey.
But when you travel together, not all moments are mountain-top moments. We’ve also become well aware of each other’s flaws and imperfections.
Already, the team has seen my tendency to worry…to be anxious about the possibility of worst-case-scenarios. They’ve seen me tired and cranky because of lack of sleep, jet lag, or nausea after long bus rides with children through the narrow roads on winding mountains.
But I think it’s precisely in these moments – in the real moments – that we’re best positioned to rely on God to work through us, despite our jet lag, our crankiness, our anxiety, and our other flaws. It’s in these moments when we’re intentionally looking for God’s presence with us, because we realize we can’t do this task of mission as our own flawed selves.
Today, I was reminded that we’re not in Lebanon to “do” anything spectacular. We can’t do that. Instead, we’re here to be. To be with. To come alongside. To laugh. To cry. To listen. To be present to what God is doing here in this spectacular place. It’s in these real moments when God encounters the broken parts of my life, and God connects me with other people who have experienced brokenness in their lives, and together we are all changed. These are the true mountain-top moments. Thanks be to God.
-Mary Alice Birdwhistell