My 16-year-old daughter was able to participate in a six-week program in Hungary called “A Vision For Life.” It’s basically Bible college condensed into six weeks for high schoolers. It was a mix of Bible classes, outreaches, dorms and general “parent-free living”. She had some incredible opportunities to share her story of hope in Jesus. My heart smiled when I saw photos of her talking to a group of hundreds on the streets of Vienna, hosting Vacation Bible School for kids, making new friends, and I knew she would come back changed. I’ve been on multiple mission trips in my life, and the effort is always to go touch other people’s lives, but in the process, it completely changes who we are and what we believe. The same happened for my daughter, and I was so ready for her to come home; we really missed having her around. There was one thing I had forgotten when it comes to mission trips, especially as a teenager…the culture shock.
I remember the first time I went on a mission trip was to Juarez, Mexico. I had never seen such poverty, and when I returned home, it was Christmas time. Talk about culture shock, I was angry at every bit of American excess I saw around me. I had just seen firsthand people who literally didn’t have anything, and I didn’t understand how people didn’t feel guilty for having all they had. The culture shock my daughter faced was different. They didn’t really visit poverty stricken areas, but she had done a lot of really important things for the kingdom of God and coming home just felt, well…ordinary.
It’s no fun coming home to parents and rules and chores, after you just spent two months with a group of awesome new friends who were on fire for Jesus and couldn’t wait to tell everyone they met about Jesus. Now she was back home, picking up her school schedule, locker combination and getting ready to start her junior year of high school. Along with the regular jet lag that comes with international travel, there was a bit of an aimless feeling of, “What am I supposed to do now?” I could totally understand where she was coming from, and my mama heart started asking God how I could help her navigate this moment of uncertainty. I thought about Isaiah 43:18-19 that paraphrased says, “Don’t look back on the old times as if they were the best of times, I have more ahead for you!”
God has promised that He is always doing something new in us, and so, if we keep our head stuck in the past, we may miss the new that is coming.
It would be pretty mean of God to give us all just one highlight reel to keep looking back at our entire lives. Thankfully, that’s not what He does!
What a great encouragement to us! It’s ok to reminisce about the good old days, but we can’t dwell there as if that’s as good as it’s ever going to get. I received a tea towel from the famed Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas, that reads, “The good old days are still to come!” I love the thought that in the future we could be looking back on these days right now saying, “Oh man, that was an awesome time!” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get so stuck in the past triumphs that I leave no space for new victories!
Let’s hold on to this Scripture and to the knowledge that God is doing a new thing today!