The Ultimate Culture Shock

This last Christmas I spent a lot of time thinking about the differences between Jesus’ life in heaven, and what he stepped down into, to be made flesh and live among us.  Let’s see, from being able to dive into the rainbow of glory and the embrace of the Father, to walking by faith and not sight.  From being a focal point of heaven’s adoration, to growing up a poor commoner of an oppressed nation.  From the fellowship of mighty beings calling out the holiness of God, to being jostled in dusty streets by those doubting His goodness.

That, my friends, is culture shock.

Learning life here in Costa Rica, I feel some of it, too.  After four months of “no way,” I honestly got emotional the other day in the grocery store.  I let myself use my fun money to buy a favorite treat: Swiss cheese at $8 a pound (in Nebraska, you pay $4).  I cried the first time we test drove a car for sale because I missed my “Ferrari”—our nice used minivan purchased with 90,000 miles on it.  When my dear mentor was dealing with a sore hip and couldn’t reach her toenails to cut them, it broke my heart.  The offer to stop by every week for a little pedicure was on the tip of my tongue, but nail clippers don’t work over the phone.  These are small things, I know.  But life in a new culture is full of them.  They pile up around you, and sooner or later you have to work through them if you are going to move forward.

We know that Jesus dealt with changes much greater and more profound. He gave up his face time with the father and all that he had, to walk out God’s calling.  He even did it without sinning.  What does that mean to us?  To me, it means that he is worthy to ask us to live in a new way to bring the Father glory.  When something is hard for us, Jesus understands.  We don’t have to hide the struggle. He’s ready and waiting for us to invite him into the furnace, and he has the power to help us walk through the flames.  Swiss cheese or no Swiss cheese.

Light of Dawn

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:15-16

In all their suffering he also suffered,
    and he personally rescued them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them.
    He lifted them up and carried them
    through all the years.  Isaiah 63:9

One Petal at a Time

17 Days from now we will be wheeling our lives into the airport and boarding the plane for language school.  We are excited and overwhelmed at the same time.  I had fully intended to capture the experience in words, so that others might be encouraged to trust God in their own leaps of faith.  I would love to weave a poem of the view from here, but to be honest, right now my eyes are stuck on the ground.  On the forefront of my mind is how to sort through a houseful of stuff in the next handful of days.  We’ve been working at it for months, but there’s still nooks and crannies full of decisions to be made.  I know that our everything is about to change, but my mind can only grasp one detail at a time.

Human vision works like that, too.  You can only focus on a thumb-sized amount of what your eyes see, the rest is blurry.  We are selling things hand over fist on craigslist, buying other things from students finishing up at the language school (thank you, Lord, for social media), inviting great people to partner with us in our calling, gathering and completing paperwork, spending quality time with those we love, and praying for the family who will (hopefully soon) come buy our house.


Moment by moment we conquer small tasks, but always in the periphery are dear faces of children who weren’t safe living with their families and mission team members experiencing the Father out in the nations.  Each item on our to-do list is a petal in the bouquet of our new life in Costa Rica.  We can only pray that He finds it a beautiful and fragrant offering.

When I am overwhelmed,
    you alone know the way I should turn.
 Then I pray to you, O Lord.
    I say, “You are my place of refuge.
    You are all I really want in life.  Psalm 142: 3a, 5