|Underground crypt at Santo Domingo Ruins, Antigua Guatemala|
I awoke to the gentle slosh and splash of the ornate concrete fountain that masked the typically abrupt sounds of roosters, dogs, horns, sirens, alarms, fireworks, screeching birds, unknown explosions of industrial collision, and the occasional Mariachi Band that is the beginnings of conciousness in a Guatemalan morning. I pulled the hand-woven blanket snug against my chin and tight under my toes as I curled up against the early morning chill. I smiled as I buried my head deep into the pillow as I realized that I was back.
We made our way into the city that has withstood disasters heaped on disaster. Although it has been destroyed by both fire and water, it stands as a testament of tenacity and the beauty of scars as it whispers the wisdom of the ages to all those who enter with listening ears.
Our subgroup of 5 made our way to a place that floods my mind with the enormity of apparent history that is a juxtaposition of ironic beauty in desolation... we made our way through trellised flowers, vaulted walls, open sky, and subterranean crypts. Colorful parrots and pits of dried human bones from centuries past caused my imagination to be matched only by the emotion of the storied realities.
We were short on time and unlimited on adventures. With a final pause and look back, we made our reluctant escape. We began our rapid walk back on the centuries old stone streets underneath the mountain framed expanse of blue and mist.
After 40 minutes of stumbling a 20 minute trek, we turned to a passerby for advice and a help to get us back on path to our rendezvous with the larger group. The path that we had chosen had taken us to an unexpected result. We had momentarily lost ourselves.
Have you ever lost anything? This has been a theme for me on this trip. In fact it is to the point that others on this adventure have taken to laughing at my expense a bit about it. And I don't blame them! I lost my seat on the flight from Atlanta to a double-booking, lost my two checked bags to a mis-sorg that allegedly sent them to Los Angeles, miserably lost basketball games to a bunch of girls, and now I had lost our little group ingo the outskirts of an ancient city prone to destruction.
All in good fun, of course.
But... tonight it all came into focus as I listened to the words of two men I have come to respect a great deal. One via video and the other live and in front of me. I realized that I, in fact... have been called to get lost.
This message was driven even farther into my thoughts as I sat across the table from a man with 20 years of insight and perspective from watching familes come and go over the years in this realm of what is called mission work. He explained to me the difference between those who are able to leave the marks of their work like fingerprints from the hands of a potter... and those who come with great intentions and simply fail.
He told me, "there are those who come with emotion, and there are those who come because tbey know in their hearts that they simply could never do anything else. If you think you can do something, or even anything else... then that is what you should go do." He went on go add, "if a perwon can do anything else, he should not come... but if he is called, then he must come."
The message earlier was taken from Luke 14:25.
Following God may mean that you give up on everything you seek and never gain anything. You may lose even your own life. We are asked to lift a splintered cross onto raw shoulders and follow a condemned man into an arena of torture and death. We risk rejection from those who call us strangers and even those who call us family. We do this because of God's great love for us.
And so... I, and you... we must decide who we will be. To what will we get lost? God tells us that his way will lead us to that which goes beyond anything that we could ever come up with for ourselves...it is not easy, or even safe, or fair, or understood...but, we must not quit halfway through. If we allow him to lead us to the end...we must give up everything to be called his disciple.
To the true believer...there simply is no other way.
As I think back to the bones in the reliquaries, I wonder which path they chose... and I wonder if their journey allowed them to lose their lives to salvation or death?