As Christmas 2011 closes in, it is (finally) hitting me that this will be my last Christmas in America for the foreseeable future. I am leaving family, friends, homes, lands for unknown family, friends, homes, and lands in Asia. This is part of the sacrifice and also part of the inheritance of the call on my life. It’s complicated though…I am filled with excitement, purpose, and clarity…but ironically, I am also filled with anxiety, a sense of being overwhelmed, and confusion. It’s a paradox to say the least. But I love living in the tension. And I know that the paradox is, ironically, completely “normal” within the call.
By this time next year, I will be surrounded by people who don’t know Jesus, that are struggling to survive in extreme poverty, and that are being sold into the sex trade to make a living. There will be no Christmas trees….no eggnog…no fancy Christmas musicals…no Christmas music blaring everywhere…no company parties…no Black Friday specials…no Santa…no Christmas sweets…no lines at Wal-Mart.
But even in the absence of all of this “stuff”, where I am headed, Jesus will be there. In fact, He already is.
I firmly believe that….He is with the urban poor, those who are suffering to survive on less than $1 day. He is with the girl whose parents sold her in the sex trade in order to feed the family. He is with the baby suffering from malnutrition because there is no food or drink. He is with the woman being raped over and over and over again by perverted men looking for a cheap thrill. He is in the suffering…and He asks us, He has asked me, to join Him there.
Dont get me wrong, my flesh wants the comfortable, familiar, safe Christmas I will have this year as I have had many other years of my life. But my Spirit…mmm…that amazing-radical-others-focused-God-presence-in-my-heart is ready for the uncomfortable, unknown, and dangerous Christmas.
People often ask me how I can do what I am doing? And to their amazement, I answer with ease. Most importantly I tell them, its not me, its Jesus in me…and…what else would I do? Meeting Jesus and following Him to the poor and suffering is what I was made for. This is my purpose. I am only following my heart. Because of this, it feels...quite...natural and right actually.
So…I am ready to enter in. I am ready to trade in my red sweater and Christmas Day basketball for a slum house and perpetual uncertainty.
I am ready to do what Jesus already did, perfectly.
Ready to incarnate the gospel where there are no Christmas trees.