No electricity. No running water. No reception.
I could have reacted two different ways when our friend Matt presented the idea of a weekend getaway to his family’s cabin in the Boise National Forest. Good: a nice break from reality, a chance to connect with a more primal version of myself, a place of still and quiet. Or bad: isolation from everything comfortable, a chance to prove that I have absolutely no survival instincts, a place of boredom.
I chose the “good” route, as is to be expected as I have a track record of being foolishly optimistic. Whatever your reaction might have been, I can make one assumption based on the fact that you’re reading this post.
This is not regular life.
Living in a Western nation, I have so much that I often take for granted. I can heat my home at the touch of a button, take warm showers daily, chat with my friends each from the comfort of our own couches. So many people around the world don’t have these luxuries. Thinking about my life compared to those in other parts of the world, it’s easy to want to think I’m lucky.
I bet you think you know where I’m going with this… but I’m not going there.
I don’t think I’m lucky. I think I’m deceived.
The author of the book of Revelation says that the devil “deceives nations,” and I think he’s done a pretty fantastic job in Western nations. I have so many things that it would be so easy to look at my material life and call myself blessed. For most of my life, I have been fed the message that because I have things, I’m better off than people who don’t have things.
As I share more and more about my journey into mission work, I want you to know where my heart is in all of this. My heart is for people in developing nations, in places of religious persecution and poor living conditions. But I do not want to be sent out to give them “things.” I do want to help these people – the best way and only way that I really know how.
They do not need the “things” I have. They need Jesus.
And I believe that the best way to communicate who He is, is to represent Him. Jesus sat with people, talked to people, ate with people. He performed miracles only to earn trust with and begin relationship with His children. Jesus didn’t regularly give handouts – in fact, He talked quite a bit about His thoughts on money and possession. There’s one thing that Jesus did that sticks out to me the most:
Jesus accepted people exactly as they were.
I think if I showed up in a developing nation simply to give them things – things that I already have – that could miscommunicate the idea that those people have to be like me to be validated as humans. That once they have the things that I have they can be in relationship with me and, ultimately, God. It’s easy to create subconscious barriers by continuing to treat people like they need something else first.
The main thought I took away from a quick trip to a life without luxury was this: I’d like to get to a place where these things don’t define me one bit. Where I don’t rely on any of these luxuries to sustain my life. Where I still feel 100% like myself whether or not I’ve had a shower recently, whether or not I’ve gotten a few likes on a pretty picture of trees. It’s nice to have some time away just to realise that my friends are still my friends no matter if we’re in a coffee shop or in the wilderness. It makes me feel like I could be in either of those places and start up a conversation with someone new. Because if Jesus came to prove one thing, I think this would be it:
We’re all human.