Friday, March 21, 2014

Number One Thing?

Life in Spain would probably seem pretty normal to all of you in the United States.  We don’t have very many hardships when it comes to everyday living.  Our city is very safe, and we have a comfortable apartment.  Grocery stores here are similar to those at home, and roadway laws are also comparable.   We help with English classes, provide some language exchange opportunities for our friends, and go to church twice a week.   Seems pretty nice, right? 

Well, it is.  I am not going to deny that fact at all.  I have absolutely loved being here, taking in the culture and making new friendships.  I love this country and especially the community that we have been given the privilege of joining.  I feel so blessed to have the honor of living here with my girls.  In all seriousness, this whole REACH experience has been the best time of my life so far, but that does not mean it has been easy and peachy to walk.  We have had our struggles and hard times, but thankfully, I am surrounded by three amazing girls who push me to love Jesus more and fight for joy. 

During this time, though, we have come to realize that underneath the surface of this wonderful culture there is a heaviness….a darkness….that we didn’t notice at first.  In Catholicism, Jesus is known and loved, but Mary gets the same amount of honor as Jesus does in saving us.  She is considered a “co-redeemer” with Christ.  This takes away the significance of Jesus as our Savior and our true dependence on Him.  And not only this, but works has a lot importance in their religion as well.  They don’t have an assurance in their faith.  For us, Jesus is our Hope.  His coming, life and resurrection are essential in our lives, and through these things, He has given us eternal life with Him if we just accept it.  Without Him, we have nothing.  So many people in this city are so close to the Truth, but they lack this true Hope.  And since it is so close and they are under the umbrella of “Christianity”, they don’t see a need to change anything.  It is so hard to go deep in conversations with people here because generally they don’t really care.  Catholicism may change some things they do, but it rarely has anything to do with the heart.   It can be very discouraging and frustrating at times because we haven’t really seen any fruitful results from being here even though we are with people all the time. 

Amidst these discouragements and differences, though, I have been learning a very important lesson.  Actually, Antonio, one of the leaders of a Catholic community group that we attend called Fe Y Vida (Faith and Life) shared this in his message on Friday night and it really got my attention.  He asked, "What is the number one thing in your life?"  Most of us would probably say God, although I don’t know how honest I would be in claiming that at times.  Then Antonio said, "But, really, God doesn’t want to be the number one thing in your life.  Nope.  That means that the number two thing is right behind Him.  What He really wants is for Him to be your ONLY thing."  Powerful stuff. Sharing His Love and Truth should be what I do each second of my existence in how I act, talk, and even think.   Family, friends, jobs, hobbies……all of these things are a part of life, but Jesus should be oozing out of me as I partake in all of them.  If any of the previously mentioned things were stripped away from me, it would be very difficult, but Christ is enough for me.  He is what matters in my life, and I want that to be evident in everything I do.  So while life here in Spain may not be the most hard core living I ever do, it certainly has taught me a lot about sharing Jesus in everyday life.  Sure, most of the time it feels like nothing is really changing, but it’s ok.  It’s not up to me.  I can’t force anything to happen.  I am powerless to change anyone’s heart.  All I need to do is be faithful in the small stuff and make Jesus my only thing.  It may mean drinking tea and speaking English with people, helping a nun wash spools of thread for 2 two hours, sitting on the sidewalk and eating a meatball sub with a homeless friend, or just laughing together as a team over the amount of salsas one can use to flavor stir-fry.  The action is irrelevant; the Love behind it is what makes all the difference. 

I ask you to please stand with us in prayer over the country of Spain.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working in the lives of the locals here and filling them with a desire and love for the true Savior.  Pray for the long-time workers here, that they would be faithful in sowing seeds of Love and not be discouraged by the darkness.  And pray for Light and Joy to overtake this place, and that He might be glorified here.  

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