In 2004 I went with a group of eight others to Africa for six weeks. The experience changed my life and taught me a lot about God, faith, myself and relationships.
In the midst of that trip, however, a lot of group dynamics and struggle surfaced. The source of the tenion boiled down to the simple fact that our group had become too formal and structured too quickly. We’re all still friends, but we definitely went through a lot of heartache and pain as we strove to be “community.”
Fast forward nearly five years later, and I’m still processing some of those events. On the way to church yesterday, I had a realization: a lot of my desire for structure and creating a formal organization was intertwined with a desire to do something big and important. God planted a seed in our hearts (a desire to do something in Africa), and I envisioned a great, beautiful plant that all would admire and appreciate. A plant that’s beauty would make a large impact on the world and point many people toward its creator. So I pushed for the seed to grow faster and bigger, without considering the natural pace and size God designed. I figured something more formal made us legitimate. Serious. More important.
Totally the story of my life! I dream big, envision grand designs, and for the most part am pretty good at translating them into practical steps. I don’t think this is necessarily bad unless you run ahead of God. For me, I realize it comes down to a trust and a pride issue. Do I trust that he can work through the small things in life as much as the big things? Is my desire to do big things more about me than it is about God and his fame?
I look back on our time, and I do believe that God accomplished much – both in our lives and in the lives of those we met. His work was not hindered by our humanity. But perhaps it could have been a lot less painful.
So that’s what I’m thinking about this week. How about you?