Nothing in our lives is more important than a vibrant, constant, real, alive relationship with our King Jesus. We know this. But somehow in the midst of trying to live in this world, accomplish things, and deal with pain it is pretty easy to forget. In our first month of being back in the States, we’ve been able to chat with good friends by phone or Skype, spend time up at our mission headquarters, and introduce our little guy to the family. All those experiences have been great, but what really stands out to me is a moment in prayer I had last week.

Like any good spastic guy would do, my mind has wandered to a lot of places as I process Nepal and our future. In the midst of all those musings I came across Hebrews 11 and the first part of chapter 12. I was reminded of how so many people who have followed God before me have had to surrender big things and let some beautiful dreams die. It hit me hard that even our most intimate losses – the loss of sight, loss of a parent, the loss of a vocational ministry dream can become idols in their own right. The phrase that kept coming to me was “murkti puja” (Nepali for idol worship). Though these are all real losses that cannot be ignored, they can be erected as gods to which we pledge our lives. Just as idolatry was denounced in the Old Testament by telling idolaters to dash their gods to pieces on the ground, so too must my idols be.

Last week in prayer I got this gruesome picture of Christ on the cross – full of blood, despised, mocked, shamed, humiliated – He has taken on every ounce of suffering and any sort of pain that we experience pales in comparison. I felt the Spirit beckoning me to once more lay my losses and unmet dreams before Him. Without these idols being smashed, can’t reach the place of healing and wholeness that Christ wants for me.

So often the kind of worldly version of “faith or as Hebrews 11 has it “by faith” that we hear is that crap happens at one point in our lives and we bounce back, recover, and then have something really great happen in the next four or five years down the road. I think a book was written about that “Your Best Life Now” or something like that. That is such a worldly way of looking at walking by faith. We have all we could ever need and ever want – that is Jesus Himself. Nothing is more important than a vibrant, real, alive relationship with Him. When this is all said and done our dreams or desires won’t matter at all. Only Him. Not Nepal. Not rolling with immigrants in their neighborhood. Not rebounding from mom’s death. Not your divorce. Not the foreclosure. Not the attempted business failure. . . . that isn’t the point. The point is encountering God in such a way over and over and over again that He is our everything.

So that is the sermon for the day I guess. Missions and next steps will come and they will come with a lot of power when it is Christ alone consuming our hearts. Of course it is painful walking through all this and Christ purpose for our lives is not misery or failure. But his purpose isn’t earthly continual happiness either. God’s promise is that He will be all we need and that He will work all things together for our good. He never promised that we’d have a constant sense that it feels good. Hard lessons.

So yeah, He has to be supreme in our lives. Murkti pujaa. I – idol-worship. I didn’t see that coming. What a Savior who has identified with us in every way and walked down any road far before we have.

We’ll be taking a trip up to the twin Cities to see old friends, have some meetings with ITeams in the Chicago area, and then going down to Arizona to see Charity’s family. I’m really looking forward to that trip and time with old friends and relatives. Be praying with us that God uses this trip to draw closer to Him and hear His voice about the future. I am convinced that any amount of mission strategy, community analysis, or cross-cultural linguistic confidence can never be thought of as a replacement for being alive in Christ. We have one allegiance, our King Jesus.

What are the idols you cling to?? The things of this world that need to be dashed on the ground and broken into pieces? I’m excited to see what God does in you, in me, in many as we surrender. . . yes, even our losses and grief before Jesus. It has always been, and I suppose it always will be, broken people that God uses beyond their imagination.

And just one final thought. . . the cloud of witnesses mentioned in Hebrews 12 gives me great confidence of being surrounded by many who have walked down this road. “Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw aside every weight that entangles us and run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” You are not alone. I’m not alone. Standing shoulder to shoulder with you guys.