Monday, March 19, 2012

A Fading Tan

Coming home from a long trip can be difficult.

There's jet lag combined with plain old fatigue from traveling 30 hours straight, including an 11-hour lay-over, a 3-hour layover, and a 10-hour all-night flight.

There's the dismal weather that greets you when you return to winter after a southern hemisphere summer.

There's the unpleasant surprise of a 4-pound weight gain (and I even jogged every single day of my trip!).

There's all the unpacking and the piles of laundry to be done.

There is mail, newspapers and messages to catch up on.

There is an empty fridge to re-stock.

There is a job to go back to (I've always thought it would be such a wonderful luxury to return from a trip and not have to go to work for two or three days).

There are church and ministry issues waiting to be resolved.

There is the mundane routine of life after the excitement of exotic places.

There is the drop in euphoria that comes from the high of good ministry.

There is the very full calendar demanding your immediate attention and attendance.

There is the fading tan.

I've experienced every single one of these in the last few days since returning home.  It took me two days to unpack my suitcase and do laundry.  I was scheduled to work the very day I returned, after 30 hours of travel.  I had to go grocery shopping and start cooking again, after 10 days of having my meals prepared for and cleaned up after me.  We've only had one day of sun since returning and it wasn't even a warm day.  I had an all-day woman's conference to attend on the weekend, when I should have been catching up at home.  I'm still struggling to stay awake past 9 p.m.

And today my tanned skin started to flake.

It was helpful to blog and upload my pictures.  Just looking at them made me feel the warmth of the sun, taste the dark Brazilian coffee, and remember the wonderful people all over again.

Although it's nice to come home, sometimes it's hard to re-enter the home routine.  But I've decided it's much better to come home with the wistful feeling that you wish you could have stayed a few more days than to come home feeling like you were dying for the trip to end.  When you stay too long, you begin counting down the days left in your visit and find yourself tiring of the food, the weather, the people and the accommodations.

I wasn't tired of any of those things and instead found myself experiencing the wistfulness of a "too soon" end to our trip when boarding the plane home.  But that's a good thing.  That wistfulness becomes an appetizer or teaser that whets my appetite for the next trip.

And if I wasn't planning another visit, many others are planning it for me!  My dear 93-year-old pastor asked me about my trip and I gave him a report that pleased him.  Then he asked if I would be willing to go again, and I said, "Of course!"  I told him that we were asked to come again in a year, but it was a very expensive trip so we would probably go only every other year or maybe even every third year.  He squinted his bright blue eyes and leaned forward to look at me intently and said, "Never say no to an invitation.  If you've been asked to go every year, then God will provide."  I thought I had given a practical and wise reply, but to my pastor I had just limited God!  I quickly recanted and told him I would most certainly believe God to supply the resources for a trip anywhere and any time He pleased.  His gentle rebuke actually excited me!  Maybe I'd get to go sooner rather than later!

So though the color on my skin is starting to fade, the call on my life is stirred by faith!  Instead of tanning oil, I'm applying anointing preparation for the day when I'll follow the Son to another exotic location in another beautiful nation, to minister to His precious people whenever and wherever He desires.

{But I'm still sad I'm losing my tan!}

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