Before settling in under the mosquito net for the night ( and I’ve counted literally like four total mosquitos ) I’ve been walking to the edge of the cliff each night to listen to the distant jungle mountains on the opposite shoreline.
Last night as I made my way across the grass I shone my flashlight out in front of me and peered into ten million little eyes reflecting back at me in blues and yellows. Upon closer inspection, I realized the ground was carpeted with countless little spiders.
Cool and creepy all at once. Also apparent where the burning filament of the starry night over my head. Even with a waning full moon, their collective brightness cast a glow over everything Satisfied to go no further into the sea of spiders I retired back indoors.
As Karina sat under the net, working out the finances of boat crossings and food for the team coming in a couple of days, I picked up my imaginary guitar and practiced my Spanish with songs of amazing grace and be thou my vision. It was a calming way of learning pronunciations and a time of worship.
What struck me was a conversation we had with a local pastor a couple of days ago. He was stressing the difficulty in communicating the witness of God to a people who’s word for God meant their pagan god. Much as folks will use Allah and God interchangeably as the same person, yet they are incomparable in their nature. The Muslim God, or the BriBri god are cultural worlds apart from the Christian God.
As I was singing the words of a particular song the person and nature of Jesus stood out as such a completely and wonderfully unique identity. All at once personal, and yet with a universal appeal that calls the very spirit and longing of humans as to transcend all the lofty and at times misguided connotations that the concept of God invokes.
There stands Jesus. Simple, relatable in His humanness and yet carrying the treasure of grace that every human craves. We don’t know how much we need him until we find him and that salvation is the key that unlocks our hearts. Like the perfect harmony that meets the human melody of our malady. So that’s the song we sing into the lives of strangers and friends alike. Once my heart is an open channel for Jesus he sets his tune into the hearts of others. Things at the Bambu base have taken on a sort of rhythm. The days slip by and I haven’t thought of home and work and Bay Area schedules for more than a nanosecond. When I do get back there I’ll want people to care about what’s happening here, but I know from personal experience that the busy cares of life will almost immediately overtake the thoughts of everyone but my own surroundings. Life has a way of demanding one's attention or at least an unconscious attempt with the distraction of daily chores or pursuits of vanity.
I’m not clear as to why my thoughts seem more focused on the mission here as opposed to back home. There are plenty of opportunities to surrender my will to God's will in both places. I may need some spiritual surgery in this area, or at least a heart transplant. Here in Talamanca, there’s a singular purpose to my actions. A kind of pair of glasses that tints my view of the world and gives me vision.
Back home it’s muddled with differing demands at work, at home, at play. When someday I move here permanently it may occur in this place I don’t know. I do know that wherever I go, there I am. I carry like a load, the character assets and defects that makeup who I am. But maybe just like makeup that a woman might wear, all those things are applied and practiced, highlighted and accentuated for the environment I’m in. And the environment down here, carrying a mission of eternal significance, the primitive nature of both the people and landscapes requires less of me and more of Jesus.
Like the makeup is covering my truer nature found in my identity with Jesus. As I said, it’s not yet crystal clear for me, but I’m working it out. Like I prayed last night. “ Jesus son of God, have mercy on me a sinner. Keep me, guide me, guard me. amen “
Author: James Beach, Co-Founder