I am sitting next to a dear Canadian friend of mine, in the apartment that has been our home this week, with the three people who have been our family since last Tuesday. It’s an interesting experience to change “mom”, “dad”, “sisters”, “brothers” and bedroom each week, but definitely the best way to really get to know the culture of Bogota. A typical breakfast, for example, consists of a piece of bread, a half-cooked egg, and a cup of hot chocolate. However, one morning I woke up to a bowl of chicken foot soup waiting for me… umm, yummy? Haha.
I love learning new things, and especially experiencing new things, but I have to say… I miss my normality. This week during a counseling session for me, I said something to my leader that sounded selfish in my ears but that I needed to express, “Elaine, I’m tired of seeing poor people everywhere, I’m tired of all the trash in the streets, I‘m tired of eating this food…” and you know what she told me? “It’s okay for you to miss home, Brittany you’ve been gone for a long time.” Yes, I have been gone for a long time… but I felt guilty for not being head-over-heels in love with Bogota, enchanted with it’s every quirk and custom. Because God has already asked me to come back here, maybe for one year, maybe for many years. This is going to be my home, my city… and I like it, but I would rather just be home.
I think the most important word I’ve learned in the past six months is “renunciar”: to renounce. That is, to give up, to relinquish, to abandon, to surrender. Jesus talked a lot about renouncing, renouncing money, family, wants. And God asked for a lot of sacrifices from the Israelites as well. Today on the bus I was thinking about this, wondering why this has become such a big part of my life, why God has asked me to give up so many things, why renouncing is so important. And what I realized is that it keeps God in His place in my life, because I am constantly choosing to put Him first. In Chile He asked me to give away some money, some money that I, Brittany, needed for me… but I obeyed Him. I trusted Him instead of that money, keeping Him on the throne of my heart.
Last week one of the girls on my team asked us a question during her teaching that hit me hard: “Are you willing to renounce your family for what God wants you to do?” I’ve been renouncing my family for over a year, but I let Nataly’s question sink in anyway… imagining how I would feel and what I would do if God were to ask me to stay away from home even longer than I’ve already been away. I cried for a long time, before finally telling God, “It’s not what I want, it’s not what I want at all… but I would obey you.” Hearing those words out loud made me cry even harder, because in that moment I remembered a conversation I had with my best friend several years ago, in which I was justifying my decisions because of my desires and where she replied, “all you’re saying is ‘I want, I want, I want’ but Britt… your life is not your own.” At that time, I was on the throne of my heart, my desires were what mattered most to me. But so much has changed: I have learned to renounce, I have learned to give God His proper place in my life.
I’m homesick, I’ve been homesick for about the past eight months, but during this time of choosing God over myself I have not only learned to honor God but I have experienced what it is for God to honor me. As I mentioned, in Chile I gave away the money I had that I needed to pay my own outreach, because He asked me to. I was super broke for a few weeks, and sometimes found myself singing that rap song, “I ain’t got no money…” ahaha. But God also asked me to just trust Him for the money I needed, to be still, to not tell anyone about my empty wallet or the fact that I had run out of deodorant. So I waited… and four days before we flew to Colombia I was told that someone from the base had donated the money I needed to buy my plane ticket. It struck me that day as I was cleaning the bathroom that I hadn’t done anything to earn that money. I didn’t beg, I didn’t bake cookies, I didn’t write support letters, I didn’t do anything except honor God in what He asked me to renounce. And what He told me was that He was honoring me.
It’s really late and I’m not really sure what I’m trying to say by all of this. I think I’m trying to say that God is worthy of our sacrifices. God is worthy of us giving Him everything He asks us to give Him, He is worthy of dwelling on the throne of our hearts.
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11