I'm here but I'm not here. Yes that is the feeling that normally happens after one returns home from a mission trip. You can leave a place physically but emotionally you are still there.
How do you express emotions and memories from 3 weeks of intense experiences where your sole focus is on God and His purposes. Re-entry is that part of the journey that one has to go through as they come down from the mountain top. Who wants to come down when the view is so spectacular on the mountain. But the Christian life is not about staying on the mountain, it is a pilgrimmage that calls us to walk through many paths--some that leads us up the mountain and others that lead us down into the valley. Re-entry to me is like a walk down into the valley. We are coming down from the mountain where we have tasted the Lord, we have seen His goodness, His faithfulness, His provision, we have been sustained by Him, we have seen His power, We have beheld His glory, we have experienced His protection. Now we are faced with the ardous task of integrating all that He has taught us. This is a journey inward. A journey of intimacy. One where deep will talk to deep, if we let Him. It is a struggle at times because our natural inclination is to be around other people, especially our team members who have shared the journey with us, but God wants us all to Himself first.
Over the past 6 months as our team was preparing for the trip, it was a time of DOING, a time of organizing, a time of activity. But now as we enter into this phase of re-entry, it is a time of BEING. A time to be re-filled, a time to be re-fueled, a time to reflect, a time for vision to be formed, a time of new birth, a time of letting go, a time to listen, a time to rest, a time to stop, a time to simply be with the One who has set eternity in our hearts. Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us that:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace
Indeed re-entry is a season where lots of things begin to change internally. We may not see it initially because the changes are intangibles that only are reflected over time. Perhaps it is a change in where we spend our time, who we spend our time with, what we spend our time on, where our focus is. It is a time where new seeds are planted by the One who calls us His own, a time of uprooting and tearing down, where the old ways of thinking are replaced with new insights about ourselves and His purposes in our lives. It involves change and transformation as we follow His lead, but only IF we are willing to follow where He calls us. This perhaps is the greatest challenge as it is so easy to slide back into our comfortable lifestyles and our comfortable Christianity. It is a choice that we are called to make. The question is whether we will embrace the choice before us. Are we open to saying 'Lord I surrender to you, not my will but your will be done.' Or are we closed to going further on to seeing what that next step will be. This is the crossroads that we will face and it is at this junction, where our experiences overseas can be short circuited if we choose to set the agenda instead of allowing Him to lead us.
Re-entry is also a time indeed to mourn, to grieve as we look back and wish we were tasting more of those mountain top experiences but it is also a time where He is teaching us a new dance. A new way to dance with Him, as He adds new steps to our pilgrimmage. Some times those steps imply more waiting for the longings in our heart to be fulfilled, other times, those steps call us to enter into another 'Jordan river' experience. Where He is leading us to take a step that involves risk and requires courage and boldness to move forward despite the uncertainy that lies before us. Either way, it is a time to embrace the future with a new level of faith, trusting in His goodness and in His love.
Re-entry is a time of listening to the voice of the Lord speaking to us about the treasures He has deposited into our hearts from our mission trip. It is a time to be still before Him in the midst of all the distractions that come our way now that we have returned home.
Re-entry is not easy for our hearts are prone to wander, prone to restlessness, prone to be consumed with the immediate yet it is a time where the Lord beckons us and says 'Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know. (Jeremiah 33:3).
Dear Jesus, let us all be like Samuel of old as we say: Speak O Lord, for your servant is listening!