Our short-term mission team recently returned from a week of service in Guatemala. It was a great week. We bonded into a strong, close-knit team. We accomplished a lot of good work in the name of Jesus Christ. Two single mother led families received new houses, 52 people received new wheelchairs, and a lot of food and clothing was distributed during our numerous home visits.
To God be the glory!
My return carry-on bag was packed with filthy laundry and I was wearing the only clean tee shirt and over-sized gym shorts on the flight back home. Pulling into my driveway at 1:30 am felt nearly as good as the hot shower that followed. For the next week, it felt like I could sleep for 12 hours each day. Boy, did my own bed feel good!
Going to work was hard. My body ached. My mind wandered. I felt like it was hard to stray very far from a bathroom. After a few days of adjustment, I was able to determine that I had lost a total of eight pounds, even though we had eaten very well.
Slowly, gradually, life has returned to normal. With the passing of time, I began to discern that something had changed.
A trip to the local supermarket to obtain food for tonight’s dinner cost me about thirty bucks. My internet bill for the cottage is due, totaling seventy-eight bucks. I just paid my thirty-five hundred dollar VISA bill. On Sunday morning, I wrote my weekly pledge check to the church. “Yikes!” I thought to myself, “Money seeps out of our household like sand between your fingers.”
Then, it occurred to me.
The cost for just one good or service is equivalent to the annual income (or substantially more) of most of the families I had just been serving. Income inequality smacked me flat in the face like a shovel, and has left me with a whopper of a guilt laden hangover. I don’t own the entire responsibility for all the economic sin of this world, but I do own my own share of it. What can I say when there is no defense?
“Your honor; I stand guilty as charged.”
Recognizing my own guilt, naming it, and taking responsibility for my own guilt is the beginning of redemption.
What a blessing!
There is no shame in confession. There is no shame in conviction. There is only shame in denial and stubborn self-refusal.
I can’t fix global income inequality. I can’t fix poverty. It is beyond my ability to save the world. This is why we’ve been given a Savior, and it isn’t you or me. His name is Jesus.
It’s a blessing to live in the grace of Christ’s redemption. Jesus Christ confronts our sins, cleanses us of our sins, and rehabilitates us from our brokenness and the brokenness we have caused. He confronts us with our guilt, then leads us down the road towards the redemption and salvation of the world. The price paid for our guilt was his crucifixion. By his blood, our sins are forgiven. By his grace, our redemption, and the redemption of the world, is progressing full steam ahead.
Who could ever imagine that an admission of guilt could become a blessing in God’s kingdom? I couldn’t just a month ago; but, I can today.
I am guilty. At the same time, I am blessed because of my guilt. A difficult re-entry this month from a short-term mission trip to Guatemala taught me this. What else can serving teach us about ourselves, each other, and our God?
Sign me up for another short-term mission trip. Are you in?