Are we there yet?

Last Sunday night was a night that I will never forget for as long as I live.

After a recent series of heartaches and trials in each of our lives, me and a few of my closest friends came to three conclusions together:

  1. Life is stinkin’ hard.
  2. We’ve been blessed with our friendships to help one another through the hard times in life.
  3. And lastly, we never “arrive” in life. We are always striving toward a new goal. The “next level”, if you will.

Suddenly faced with these three bittersweet realities, we could think of nothing better to do that evening than to climb up to the very top of Buffalo mountain, call all of our fears out by name, write them down on paper, and burn them all with a pathetic little pocket lighter. Then we all grabbed hands and yelled at the top of our lungs into the oblivion until our throats throbbed more than our aching hearts.

And I can tell you now, there’s nothing more beautiful or satisfying than setting your fears on fire and watching them turn into ash as they float away in the wind against a glowing, pink sky.

But one of the things that stood out to me the most about that night was conclusion #3. “We never ‘arrive’.”

Lately, in preparation for my trip, I have been giving this statement a lot of thought. Often I’ve thought to myself, “I’m not there yet. I don’t feel prepared for this trip…” spiritually, professionally, emotionally, or even physically at times. But conclusion #3 helped me realize something very important: I’m never going to be fully prepared for this trip, or for life in general. It’s just something I’ve got to do, and I want to do it with my whole heart. I have a job that needs doing, and a life that needs living. And it’s such an amazing opportunity and a privilege to get to serve others in this way!

If I wait till I “get there” to do something in life, I will never get anywhere.

There are too many places to go and too many people that need help to wait around for that. As my previous boss Richard used to tell me, “Hey, we’re just trying to feed orphans here.” It’s a simple, but powerful statement that always brings me back down to earth and reminds me about my true purpose and most important goal. It’s not about me, and it’s not even about you… It’s about the kids.

JS_20140531_9276As I’ve been asking the Lord to prepare my heart for this trip, and for the interactions that I will be having with the kids while I’m there, the Lord has been bringing me through the chapter of James and teaching me about a theology of suffering. It’s in chapter one that He has reminded me to count all of my present suffering and trials as joy, allowing them to transform me into a doer of the word; not merely a hearer of the word. He has also reminded me that there is always divine purpose in the sufferings of this life, and that we are all appointed to suffer as Christ suffered. But it is in this suffering that our faith will be made manifest into works that testify to the faith being perfected within us. And James concludes chapter one with this weighty statement:

“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

[Mic drop.]

So if you ever wonder what the transformative fruits of suffering and trials look like, they look like James 1:27. Suffering produces faith, faith produces works (visiting orphans and widows in their distress), and these works produce faith. It goes on and on…

I pray that through this trip, my heart will be transformed. I hope that my heart is molded through suffering, and that I can help minister to the afflicted and suffering as a result. And I pray for you as you continue to follow me on this trip, and to read my blog posts, that your heart will be challenged and transformed as well through these stories I share. I don’t just want to go halfway in this life; I want to go the distance.

Will you go with me?

-Bri

Be sure to stay tuned into Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (@servingorphans) to follow my South American adventures!

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