This past Christmas break I allowed myself to do something I have never recall doing before. I went on vacation. Of course we have had family vacations over the years but none like this one. For maybe the first time, that I can remember, I left work behind and spent a week with the family without the occasion mind drifts back to church/ministry life. And in the end, I lived to tell about it.
After the crazy Fall that our family endured and with Carter’s eye situation finally seeming to be sort of normal, I looked forward to getting away for a little vacation. I doubt it was a coincidence that this year’s Christmas festivities were already set to take place in the mountains of New Mexico. Now when the in-laws first bought the place I was informed there would be no WiFi. Whether that be due to the inability to access it or the parentals simply wanting to stay disconnected, it was a decision that I was going to have to deal with and a decision that was clearly going to alter my ability to stay in touch with the real world. Thanks to cellular service the occasional Tweet, text message or phone call to family in Houston was possible but less frequent.
So what does a city boy with technological dependencies do in the mountains? Every day started off with a great cup of Columbian coffee, thanks to my Compassion International trip last November with Jason Paredes, and a view that screamed of the greatness of God.
And each night ended with a designed playlist of worship songs streaming from my iPod and laying in the darkness of a world a lot less polluted without all the city lights. The many moments in between were filled with casual conversations with Amy and her family as well as moments of watching the boys play with their cousins. And then there were the random times I found myself looking out the window staring at the view and having scripture flood my mind. Some were versus I learned through the growing up days in Southern Baptist world and weekly Bible drill practices. Some were passages sent by friends over the recent months to encourage us in light of our situation. All of them pointing me to the very reasons we have them; to glorify the One who inspired them.
I think it is safe to say that over the course of the past months, I have found myself drawn closer to God. There is no doubt my prayer life was much more active with each and every step of Carter’s journey. With that said, I look back and remember so many prayers asking God to help us understand what He was doing. I remember the many prayers for healing in Carter’s life. I recall those moments humbly asking Him to bring glory to Himself even if we did not understand what all was going on. But during this sabbatical in the mountains, I found my prayers turning less from a cry of help in a desolate time to more of a genuine adoration for who God simply is. Worship songs that meant one thing through internal perspective a couple months ago seemed completely different when the lyrics pushed forth a more external adoration towards God.
I’m not sure how to translate the thoughts into words but what started months ago as a “God help us” eventually morphed into a “thank you God” but even then was focused on us and our voyage. But this week was different. As I spent the week in the mountains it never seemed like it was about our situation. It truly played out as a week of admonishing God, not for what He had done for us, but clearly for who He is. I would find myself tearing up just thinking about God giving up His only son. I remember those nights full of fear thinking that Carter could have cancer in his eye and how threatening that was. Just the thought made me physically hurt. And yet God was not dealt a situation where His son developed some illness. No, He chose to send His one and only son because of our illness. Who does such a thing? Who is so selfless? So I cried, I prayed, I sang songs of adoration, and I thanked Him; but not because of Carter, but because of Christ.
As we drove off that mountain and headed back to the real world, I distinctly remember hoping that this be a year where God doesn’t need to use some life altering situation to get my attention and remind me where my focus should be. I may not be able to turn off all the city lights but maybe being disconnected isn’t always such a bad thing.