It was late at night... really late. And we were lost... really lost. Somwhere south of the Mexican boarder past Tiajuana and on our way to Reynosa. I barely knew her then but she'd immediatly found a place in my heart--there was something about her that was real. Her heart was real and she cared about people in this rare way that I found beautiful. We were talking about growing up and the lives we'd lived. We were talking about what we were about to do... what we were going into. We shared a love of the unknown and a sense of adventure and since that night we have spent much of our years apart, on different continents at times... but what we shared that night grew a friendship that has remained.
I know that I don't remember her exact words and I know I won't do them justice here but this is how I remember them, in my own heart... and how they profoundly impacted me.
"Have you ever just... been in tears in the middle of the night and reached out your hand to Him and needed Him so badly to just grab on? Wanted Him so badly to just take your hand?" she asked me her eyes full of a deep longing I knew far too well.
"Yes...." was all I could manage to answer.
"I've done that so many times...." she told me..
This precious girl was breaking my heart.
Partly because at that point in her life she was walking a difficult road... and partly because I knew exactly how she was feeling...... Mostly because it was healing to know that somoene else felt that ache...
We have been friends ever since. More than that, she has become like a sister to me. This precious woman has seen me at my very worst and my very best and loved me the same through the whole journey. We have seen each other off to college, and then to foreign countries... seperated for months at a time. We have seen each other fall in love, seen each others hearts break and seen them heal. We have shed many tears over lost dreams and aching hearts. We have shared each others darkest secrets and deepest pain. Together we have traveled to dark places and seen beautiful light shine through. We have seen the sun rise and set in many places together and apart. We have lived life together and we have seen His hand reach down and touch the lives of so many.
Yet, on so many occasions I remember her words... and the truth they held for me. Sometimes, in the middle of the night I still reach up my hand... tears falling... and ask Him to just take it and lead the way. The things is, I know He's never once let go.
But has anyone else been there?
Have you ever just reached out your hand?
What I'ved loved about this precious woman from the very beginning is that she was honest... raw... real. She wasn't afraid of baring her soul and her questions. She wasn't afraid to ask where God was in the midst of the mess. What I loved most about her and love still is that she continues to reach up her hand. And even when she doesn't understand why she's been called or what she has to give she extends her hand.... to anyone who comes along.
She has touched the lives of many orphans with the work she has accomplished in the country of Haitii, she has helped in the physical healing of many by translating for medical mission groups, she has put her heart on the line, her life at risk, and her hand has touched so many. She has literally followed the call to heal the sick, feed the hungry, and comfort the brokenhearted. And she would be absolutly embarressed if she knew I was writing about how wonderful she was. Because she sees herself as flawed and completely human. And there is no doubt she is. But she is also extraordinary.
Because she has never stopped reaching up her hand.
At dinner this past week we laughed and we talked and we got so brutally honest it hurt. We were real about all of our flaws and all of our issues and all that we were currently walking through. But the best part about it was that there was no pretending... we wore no vail... we hid no secret. And as I looked across the table at her that night in Mexico came flooding back. We have come so far since then... but there are still days... still moments when I know both of us feel like those girls lost in uncharted territory talking about reaching out our hands.
We lead such different lives now. Most of the time we even speak different languages and live in different countries. But we are always connected by one thing.
Our desire to know his hand in our lives.
There was a day a couple of months ago when I sat on the office floor at Grace Reguge and literally wept because I felt so unqualified for what I'm doing... felt so unqualified for these kids.. felt so unable to give them what they need and love them how they need to be loved. I felt so unqualified to be the one teaching them about Jesus. And that day... without even thinking... I reached up my hand.
And this truth opened my heart.
No one has ever been qualified.
And even the people we look at as incredible... even the people we look at and long to be like. Even people who have touched countless lives... people like Lauren... don't always feel incredible.
Because deep down inside we know we fall so short. Deep down is there any one of us that doesn't feel just a little lost and in uncharted territory? Is there anyone of us who doesn't reach up their hand, or their heart, or their hope.... or their prayers? If you do anything where you attempt to reach out your hand and show someone Jesus don't you feel just a little unqualified?
Because I do.
Every moment of every day of my life.
But what Lauren made me realize long ago still holds true.
He never asked me to be qualified. He just asked that I reach up my hand.