I remember wearily boarding a flight for Newark and hearing “Good Life” by OneRepublic as the plane took off. It sounded bitterly ironic. To what, and why, was I returning? A culture suffering from, and reveling in, an epidemic of excess? “First-world problems?” The “good life?”
Yes. I returned to other things, too: caring friends, promising opportunities, and renewed vision on one hand; bruised relationships, a sense of entrapment, and many a wakeful night on the other. A lot of blessings and a lot of pain.
The answer will take time, but there have been traces of change. I returned determined to tell the untold stories, compelled to defend what God intends for the life of every child, committed to seek justice, and most of all, to seek Jesus.
You wouldn’t believe what can happen in a short time when you let love go unchecked. There are times when I need the little ones’ love like I need light and oxygen. Times when I am lost without them. Times when I know I’m a foreigner. Times when it feels like home is oceans away in a place where joy and pain are not contrived, not imitated, not denied.
I’d like to think this longing could be satisfied simply by returning to a village in rural India. But what if the true object is something beyond the temporal? Perhaps the desire itself is a gift in strange disguise — grace to walk valleys and mountains for the hope of what beckons beyond. Maybe it’s the call of an invisible kingdom.
And what is the response?
To walk that road and take whatever it gives you. To love for the sake of love Himself, even when it means heavyweight heart pain along the way. It takes a Spartan heart to love recklessly and shoulder the consequences; to get hit and keep moving forward. I’m not there yet.
“Don’t cry,” said a certain Spartan-hearted 15-year-old before I left, tears sliding down his face. I did cry. The road does that to you sometimes. It can break you.
But it will make you whole.