Last Friday I drove my kids to Ruidoso for the weekend, by myself. The "are we there yets" started before we'd even made it 20 miles. Crazy thing is, they've made this trip 10 times a year since they were born. They know we aren't there yet! But, I can't say much because I've been asking myself that very same question the past week after returning from my 10 day mission trip to Romania. All too often I feel like I’m stuck somewhere between here and there (maybe around Iceland or something), both mentally and physically. Re-entry can be so hard. Why do you think so much effort is made to perfect the space shuttle re-entry? Take the wrong angle, go to fast, or attempt in the wrong vehicle and all will end in a fiery mess.
Re-entry after a lengthy mission trip can be just as difficult. The first few days are oh so hard, almost like slow motion or like you are walking with concrete boots. It feels like you are pushing a van full of Romanian children up hill (all 30); like the lemons keep coming faster than you can make the lemonade! How dare our life get in the way of all this fun we’ve been having! To complicate things you can’t sleep, your appetite just isn’t what it was (probably due to the sudden absence of meat and potatoes), you can’t hold your eyes open past three in the afternoon and that darn cat just won’t stop smelling you (I mean do I stink or something).
Then there is the coma like absence the past 10 days. Life has moved on and we’ve been stuck in pause like a good TiVo machine (what do you mean Hines Ward won Dancing with the Stars. I thought they still had three weeks left). But when we push play there just isn’t enough hours in the day to catch up. You don’t get a two day pass for re-entry, a vacation from your vacation if you will. The kids want to jump on you NOW. The wife wants you to mow the grass TODAY (holly cow do I need more proof 10 days has passed). The hubby needs his laundry picked up ASAP. Your boss and/or co-workers are ready to give you your work back immediately. While you were off “digging holes” they were putting out fires! Half the things you put off in an effort to pack and get ready for your trip are now nipping at your heals like a Romanian goose.
So how do we cope. How do you get 36 hours out of a 24 hour day on as little as 3 hours of sleep? Unless you can get a Joshua size miracle at Gibeon and make the sun stand still you’re going to have to find another way to make it work. Somehow each day makes the process a little bit easier. We wake-up a little later each morning. The pile on our desk shrinks a little bit each day. Our farmers tan from the long days on the end of a shovel starts to fade. Life almost resembles some form of normalcy. Oh, but how to get back to "normal" without getting back to "normal?"
In Ruth 1, Naomi returns to Bethlehem after years of absence. Upon her arrival she is recognized by several locals. However, Naomi does not want to be recognized and she goes on to explain how different her life now is. In verse 21 she says, “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty…” Ten days on the mission field will empty you. Much of which is probably in a good way. Like a good detox diet we've cleansed ourselves of the toxins in our body. But as we get home and things return to normal it's so easy to let these toxins back in. We've renewed our focus on the Lord. Our prayer life has improved (blame it on the Romanian drivers if you will). Our "me first" approach has gone by the wayside and we've developed more of a "HE first" approach. Now just to find that balance in our life. It's hard, especially when the demands of a job, a family, and the ever-present selfishness takes over. I must admit I took a 45 minute break on Thursday to watch an episode of Vampire Diaries. I justified it with being too tired to think!
Thank goodness for a long weekend. Thank goodness for a supportive wife and kids. Thank goodness for an understanding boss. Thank goodness for an understanding Lord. Aspire to new heights!