I believe that God is teaching me to be a friend, and in that way, opening a door on my friendship with him as well. In my opinion, the fact that I flew halfway around the world to see some friends says a lot about my values. Some people seem to be a bit awkward with this bit of information, for while it seems totally acceptable to spend vast amounts of money and time touring the world and that is thought of as adventurous, using your resources to visit some exotic place mainly to invest in people and relationships instead of seeing the sights just seems sentimental or needy or I don’t know what people assume it is. Frankly, I don’t care. I was privileged to live with a family for two-and-a-half weeks and have lots of good conversations and get to know them better by listening and watching and playing and eating together and seeing what adventures and challenges they face in their adopted, temporary country. I feel I gained much more than I gave (they gave me non-stop nutritious meals, regular swimming lessons, introductions to their friends, taking me along on jaunts around town, arranging day trips, praying for me, going shopping with me, and in general, taking good care of me in a strange land), but I pray that in some way they are richer as a result of my visit and know how much being in their home as an honorary family member meant to me. Their acceptance and love remain the highlights of my trip.
I was also privileged to stay with another family for 4 days that I did not know very well at all. They, too, embraced my presence wholeheartedly and offered that unique combination that I love so well: accepting me while challenging me to try new things. Though our time together was shorter and not as profound, I felt the weight of God’s hand on several conversations and encounters and I hope that I cross paths with these folks again.
Whether we live in Africa or Canada or anywhere in the world…the main struggle in relationships is how close will we let people come? How much will we trust? How much of ourselves are we willing to show? How far out on a limb will we go for one another, especially if we do not know them that well? The example is clear: while we were strangers, God died for us. Let me offer my heart and life just as freely – that is the greatest gift I can give.