22 08 2013

As I write this week’s column, I do so in the midst of our annual venture to San Marcos in Puerto Plata of the Dominican Republic. I am surrounded by 18 other young people and adults from The Lighthouse Church and we have been spending this week immersed in loving and being loved by our wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ in our adopted neighborhood in the Caribbean.

We have been coming here for the past 10 years and since the journey began, we have not only seen the physical building of a church and a community center and water wells all throughout the area, we have seen God knit together the hearts of the people who belong to two distinct and diverse cultures who would have never been brought together any other way except through the power of God’s amazing grace, mercy and compassion. The Lord has made a real family out of a people that would have stayed strangers without the intrusion of the awesome intervention of divine love. When God stirs your soul, it is important to allow yourself to blend right into what He is doing for the mix will change you for good and the aftertaste will last forever and a day.

What I love most about our time here is that every day is really all about relationships. Back home in the USA, the clock seems to dictate what we have to do and where we have to be and if we are honest, time is not always on our side especially when we choose to be run by hours, minutes and seconds. Here in a much slower paced society, the most important project of each day may not be getting the job done as much as it is allowing the task to bring us together.

At times we Americans are so driven to check things off of our “to-do” lists, we don’t even know we are missing the magic of the moments while they are happening right in front of our very eyes. The conversation that we are having with our family, friends and neighbors needs to become as much a priority to us as the completion of the assignment that was given us. When I am in the Dominican, I eat breakfast, lunch and supper with loved ones. I can’t even remember the last time I did that here in Jersey. And it is not the food that I miss the most but the fusion of our hearts and souls and minds to the precious times that are flying by much faster than I care to admit.

I also exercise. I get out and play with the kids. I do physical labor. I move my body. So much of what I do can be limited to an office and God didn’t make men and women to be stuck inside. I know that I am probably at the worst shape of my life because I don’t allow myself the simple of pleasure of taking a walk with my wife or playing catch with my son. I live so close to the ocean and I haven’t been in it once this year and that shouldn’t be something to admire, but actually feel bad about.

We need to stop wearing our workaholics tag like it is a badge of honor. I breathe in the Dominican Republic and I actually feel like a kid again when playing baseball till dark was the primary reason for the day. We play ball with grown men in the park in the middle of the day. How cool would it be if men of our community would take off one afternoon just to play some baseball again down at the Goshen Rec Field? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Is it that farfetched an idea?
And when we worship in San Marcos, we are not in a hurry to get it all done in an hour.

There are churches here in America that use as a selling point that they get you in and out faster than Jiffy Lube. Why are we always in such a hurry to move on to something that is not as important as our relationship with the Living God? How many times have you been in a church service and you are just beginning to sense God really speaking to you but rather than linger in the presence of the Lord and see where the directive might lead you, we look at our watch and realize it is time to go home and watch the ball game or go shopping or get to some other responsibility that will never be as important as just being with the God who loves you.

I hear God and I see God and it has nothing to do with the surroundings as much as it has to do with the difference in me when I am there and not here. Sometimes I hear us saying that we have been blessed with so many more material things than those in much poorer places in this world, but I wonder, are they really blessings if they keep us from all that matters most? Would we be better off with less stuff and more soul? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Every time I come home I determine in my heart that things will be different, and then before you know it, I have been sucked right back into the rat race and I have to admit I am tired of racing rats. I am asking the Lord to give me discernment so that I can live the San Marcos life wherever I may be planted and in doing so, God becomes more real to all of us. I love our family in the Dominican Republic and I am thankful more for what they have done for me, than anything I might have ever brought them and in it all, I see God and smile.

Let Pastor Rudy know what you think by emailing him pastorrudytlc@comcast



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