"Isn't there supposed to be a 'honeymoon phase?' I think I skipped the 'honeymoon phase' this time." These were my words during a rare moment when my husband and I were alone this morning. ("Alone" being a relative term - we did have a sleeping toddler in the car!) We were returning from our second trip to the Agro, an overflowing market covering multiple city blocks in a downtown area of Iquique. The first trip had been to locate and measure potential dressers for our boys' bedroom; the second, to put money down on them and hopefully have them delivered as promised later in the day.
The Agro is a fascinating place. You can find so many things at a great price if you're willing to dig in and look around. One whole building is dedicated to secondhand American clothing brought in by container ships in huge bales of garments. Another has everything from knock off soccer jerseys to kitchen utensils to furniture to slot machines (lots of slot machines, as if people in this section of the city had money to spare!) There is an entire section of fruits and vegetables with great prices and variety. But like so much of Iquique where it never rains, the Agro is grimy and dirty. You can feel the dust under your fingers and see the dirt beneath your heels. The spiritual filth feels tangible as well, with exhibit A being the dingy motel renting rooms by the hour right in the middle of the market and exhibit B being an overheard conversation between two men discussing women as if pieces of meat.
Jesus looked on the crowds and had compassion. He saw them as sheep without a Shepherd. Today my skin crawled and I shuddered at the crowds. How can I call myself a missionary when the sight of an unnaturally powdered and withered face on a woman with vacant expression made me turn away, and the peddlers at street lights earned only my frustration? How hardened is my heart that recognizing the faces of beggars after a year away brought me exasperation that they continued in their circumstances, rather than concern for their souls?
I need the mind and heart of Christ. Jesus touched the lepers. He put His fingers on the eyes of the blind man. Recently we were given a challenge by the pastor of the church we attended stateside. It was to prayerfully consider the words of an old hymn on a daily basis. Today, they serve as a reminder and challenge to me:
May the mind of Christ, my Savior, Live in me from day to day, By His love and pow’r controlling, All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly, In my heart from hour to hour, So that all may see I triumph, Only through His pow’r.
May the peace of God my Father, Rule my life in everything, That I may be calm to comfort, Sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me, As the waters fill the sea; Him exalting, self abasing, This is victory.
May I run the race before me, Strong and brave to face the foe, Looking only unto Jesus, As I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me, As I seek the lost to win, And may they forget the channel, Seeing only Him.