"Come in, we've been expecting you."
She probably just said those words because people in scrubs had been strolling around the streets for the past week. Yet, I couldn't help but think how those words meant something more to me. God has a plan for each of us and he is expecting us to arrive at our destination. When we arrive at that place, be it at church, or at home, at work, or at school, in the arms of another, or in the comfort of our own solitude, He will invite us in. If we could learn to conduct our lives with that grace for others, how wonderful the manifestation of God would be.
Conversely, the road we travel is not always easy; it's fraught with difficulties, conflict, inner turmoil, external sin, pain, loss, etc. That's not to say many of us haven't "arrived" at grand things. We've all been recognized for our intellect, or beauty, or humor, or kindness. And these things are good, they are truths that are needed to be met and greeted along the way. But as she said those words "We've been expecting you," I knew this is what it’s like to be recognized as a brother or sister in Christ. This is the type of generosity of spirit that I have been experiencing in fellowship with my fellow SMI students. And it was for this spirit, the idea that I wasn’t just serving her, but I was also serving God, that created a kind of arriving that is not fleeting, not transitory, but altogether, and at once, life affirming and altering.
The first week of SMI we had a speaker come and tell us that short term mission trips transform very little of a community, but very much of the hearts of those who serve. This couldn’t be more true. I met a family of ten living in one home, without reliable AC or electricity, that still offered me water. I met a self-proclaimed “gang member” who bought me water ice because it was close to 100 degrees out. I met a young pregnant girl, just a child herself, who offered me parenting advice, “The diapers are so expensive!” I met a toddler who played in the fire hydrant with me and gave me the penny he found. This community knows what it’s like to truly live, the way to spread the Light of The Lord to others, the way to feel connected to humanity at large. When I arrived in countless homes (as I write this, probably about fifty so far) as a stranger, and was welcomed and loved, I felt my heart being transformed by God and my soul being called to do His work in whatever way I can in my career in medicine.
And the original lady who opened her door and her heart? She shared her testimony, describing how God had kept her severely premature (born at 24 weeks) grandson alive. And the wisdom she imparted? She looked me right in the eye, and gesturing the circle of people in front of her, said, “God is not just above, he is here. He works here.”
We all end up choosing a direction in life by following something: truth, beauty, love, faith, hope, dreams, etc., but if you follow God and work for God, you get all these things and more. Another speaker and guest at SMI told us that his previous SMI director would write on the last day of SMI "SMI begins now". And it will, in just over a week's time, when God expects us to return home, but continue to arrive at the doorstep and knock at the heart of everyone we meet.
1 Peter 4:8: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.