with nothing again

"Whoever would save his life will lose it;
and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

I read these words of Jesus this morning, and they stirred me as they have so many times before. Six years ago, on the Appalachian Trail, I wrote this saying in the log book of each shelter I visited. It became my meditation for pilgrimage. And now the circumstances of my life drive the truth of these words deeper into me than ever before.

I've been trying to understand what could cause the Mahoneys to treat us as they did. It was obvious to both Heather and me that their ministry is from God, and that they have been servants of God (and the poor) in bringing it to life. Yet their hearts seemed so narrow and hard when we entered in to help. The only thing I can come up with is that fear was involved, and a strong possessiveness of their work and the things they have gathered and built.

This is perhaps understandable. Once we build something very good, it's hard not to become very attached, to grab onto it. And as people get older and more vulnerable, there's ever increasing pressure to find a tangible source of security, often in a home or material possessions. Also, I know it's never easy to turn our life's work over to others.

Yet we can't "save our life" this way, can we?

One of the reasons Heather and I were so disappointed was that we hoped this place might be God's way of providing so that we could marry and have a family. We thought it might offer the security we felt we needed to take that next step, one filled with risk and unknowns. Yet I find myself feeling much more secure and joyful now, even though it seems we have been stripped of everything. There was even peace and joy as I watched Heather walk out of sight down the airport concourse yesterday. My heart ached and a tear streamed down, but I was not afraid. I was sincerely glad to let her go and follow God's leading for these next seven months, praying he would lead us back together in his time. I'm not even sure where I'll be when she returns.

It feels like I'm left with nothing again. Yet I trust: "Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."