“The LORD repay you for what you have done, and a full reward be given you by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge!” (Ruth 2:12)
Leaving what is comfortable and safe behind us, and traveling far, far away from home has its particular challenges. Three or four times a year our WorldLead teams are privileged to fly across the Atlantic and make our way to unfamiliar places in order to spend time with people who will invariably teach us compelling lessons far beyond anything we bring their way. We prepare our talks in advance and spend countless hours in refining the leadership and spiritual formation concepts, praying specifically for God to deposit his truth in their hearts. But what unfolds in those settings goes miles beyond anything we could ever conceive.
The remarkable occurs as we sit around tables, sharing our stories, eating their regional foods, and asking questions about their culture. As we lean in to listen carefully to the exchange unfolding in real time, an unbreakable bond begins to form, deepening with each day, drawing us close to our new friends, connecting us on a level that is anything but superficial.
Those first day introductions build into meaningful friendships that we recognize are not the norm and that don’t just happen by chance. Clearly, they are divinely orchestrated by the God of love. As our lives intersect with theirs, the distance we traveled becomes irrelevant. It is simply part of the gift we bring and they receive.
As I reflect, something about this reminds me of Christ who went to great lengths to make his way toward us and present us with his presence here on planet earth. His was a sacrifice beyond description. His showing up in our mundane world, walking, conversing, connecting and being in the middle of the everyday was part of the remarkable gift of his incarnation.
“Follow me,” he still says to us, even as he called those first followers. Watch me as I work and love and care. Go to the ends of the earth to share my story with others so they may experience my love, too. Forget about your own challenges and focus on what others desperately need. Look closely at how I spent my time, and go and do likewise. Learn from me most particularly when I pull away from the crowds to be alone with the Father. Pattern your steps to conform to mine; go the distance in my strength and not your own. Make your way to where I want you to go. Come alongside my children who are spread across this world. They have much to teach you.
Listen and learn.
Elizabeth A Mitchell
Photo Credit: My 12-year-old granddaughter Gracie Mitchell!