Looking to Guatemala

A conversation I had last night caused me to look back over how much God has changed me over the last few years. I am still very much struggling in some pesky areas that I just haven’t seen huge strides in yet, but when I pause and reflect, I realize there are some areas where I’ve changed tremendously.

In two and a half days, I will leave my family and head to Guatemala on a week-long mission trip. That right there, in my book, is a miracle. I am what you might call an anal-retentive anxiety-ridden person. Well, that’s who am I in my flesh, but not in Christ. For most of my life, I have been a person who has held very tightly to the things of this world. And by very tightly, I mean like a person deathly afraid of heights holds onto the railing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Except that I didn’t really see much railing at the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was there. Whose bright idea was that?

I’ll never forget (unless these kids drive my already weakened memory completely into the ground) an illustration I saw at a retreat I went to. You hold out the palm of your hand, flat and open. Then someone places an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss onto your hand. It is a lovely blessing. You can smell its aroma and you get a little excited at the thought of popping it into your mouth and how yummy it’s going to taste. But then you’re instructed to close your fingers around the chocolate. You sit there for a few minutes, holding on tightly to your little delicious blessing, until it begins to turn from a tasty little treat into a disgusting glob of goo. It even looks a little like poo when you finally open your hand to see what has become of it.

But that was me. I held on so tightly to everything God had blessed me with that I failed to enjoy the blessing and I even ended up turning it into a big stinky pile of poop. I was so afraid of what God was going to make me give up (because that’s the kind of God I thought He was – mean and bent on my misery) that I failed to appreciate what I had. My life was wrapped in and overshadowed by fear. FEAR. It ruled me. Would God make me leave my family and my home? Would he give me cancer? Would my kids get cancer? Would he cause me to be in an accident that would forever disfigure me? Would our house burn down? If there was something to worry about, I worried about it. If there was something I didn’t want to give up, I agonized over it.

As you can imagine, my relationship with God was not at all what it was supposed to be. I didn’t trust Him at all. At one (or two or three) points in our lives, it looked like He was going to uproot us from our familiar surroundings and those we loved, and I was NOT happy about it. I whined and pouted and railed against Him. Why did it have to be me when all of my friends seemed to be sitting all nice and pretty and free from conviction and calling? NOT FAIR, God!

I heard all about sacrifice and how that’s what the Christian life should be, and I fought it. I wrestled with God. I fought my selfishness and pride. I knew this wasn’t how I should feel, but I felt powerless to change it. Why did God have to make things so hard? How could God be good and seem to enjoy watching us suffer so? Why did following Him mean giving up everything good? The goal just didn’t seem worth the cost it would take me to get it. I saw God as a taker, not a giver. He seemed to want to take everything that was dear to me, and I was not on board with that.

But gently, oh so gently, He drew my heart to Him. He helped loosen my grip on my house, my comfort, those whom I love, my security, my love of pleasure, my desire for control, my pride, my selfishness, my fear. And he began to show me, through experiences and glimpses of Him in His Word and through His still, small voice, that His ways truly are best. That He is a God who can be trusted. And that all those things I held onto so tightly were not making me happy. They (or the fear of losing them) were making me miserable. I had it all wrong. I was worshipping the gifts instead of the Giver. He has shown me, through a long and winding journey, that He is Who I need, all I need, and the only thing worth seeking and holding onto tightly. He has given me the ability to trust. To trust His goodness, His power, and His love for me.

At the heart of it, I was trusting in idols instead of the One True God. I didn’t think He was worth giving up all I had in order to attain Him. My mouth might have said He was, but my heart and actions didn’t show it. It’s funny how we worry so much about what we might lose while all the while we are giving up the One thing worth keeping. He was not taking to be cruel. He was taking away the worthless to give me that which is of infinite worth. It was painful. It was hard. No doubt, it is not over completely. But at the end, I have learned that to save my life, to experience Life, I must indeed give up every part of my own.

Tozer spoke of Abraham, who made a choice. A choice between his long-awaited and much loved son and the Lord. It was heart-wrenching, but he chose God. Tozer described Abraham, a rich man materially, as having everything but possessing nothing. “The world said, ‘Abraham is rich,’ but the aged patriarch only smiled. He could not explain it to them, but he knew that he owned nothing, that his real treasures were inward and eternal.”

Obviously, I still struggle with living and believing that He’s worth giving up all of it. (You just have to look here for proof.) Even in typing all of this out, I fear that the fear will return and I'll look foolish. But I know now that I am living with my hands more open than not, for I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I know that, no matter how many times I falter, I can trust Him. He is doing a work in me. The fact that I can look a trip to Guatemala in the eye and not flinch or break down in fear is evidence of God’s grace at work in me. For somewhere in my soul, I now know that I am in the hand of the only One who can be trusted, who loves me enough to lay down Himself for me, and who holds my life in His very capable hands. And, because I’m in His hands, I can open mine, releasing all I have to Him and making myself available to receive all that He has for me. Himself.

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.

~A.W. Tozer


  1. First, I do NOT understand the previous comment and second, would you please write a Bible Study? I'll be praying for your trip.

  2. I found your blog by complete accident, and I absolutely love your heart for God! The word "Guatemala" caught my eye, because I grew up there as a missionary kid for 14 years. Praise God for His work of grace in your life!

  3. Praise God and thank you for this post. God has spoiied me rotten. And now these past two years He has tested my faith. And because He has spoiled me with his grace, mercy and blessings, it is difficult. Through divorce, unemployment, cancer and depression I feel stripped of anything and everything that was the "old me." It is difficult to submit to these adversities,but Im trusting in His Holy name. I know in the end that there is the blessing of the "new me." Honestly I struggle through this transition. But I find joy and peace when I read blogs such as yours. God Bless.


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