Several weeks ago I had the difficult task of cancelling a hotel reservation. You may wonder what is so difficult about that. Well, these reservations had been made over a year ago, and even though I knew many months back that I wouldn’t be able to use them, I held on. Hoping against hope that maybe something would change and I’d use them. See, these reservations were for a mission’s trip into Honduras. A trip I’ve made eight years in row, but this year would be different.
This would have been the week. A week of laboring in 100-degree heat, sleeping on a paper-thin mattress, getting little sleep, and eating food that can be scary at times and a journey that I’m heartbroken to not be taking. For every inconvenience, there are a hundred moments that I truly feel like I am God’s hands and feet as I move across the mission field. Feeding the hungry, praying for the sick, placing new shoes on a shoeless child, giving parasite medication to the poor, and preaching in open-air churches to the masses, I can feel my skin begin to tingle with anticipation at the thought. Unfortunately, this year I will sit at home, look at pictures of past adventures, and wonder if anyone will fill our gap.
This year’s trip was planned and well in progress when the unstable political situation in Honduras erupted. The people stood up for themselves and demanded their president obey their constitution. In a rather strange occurrence, our government opposed the will of the people, despite the fact that our own constitution gives us the same protection against unlawful acts by government leaders. Very quickly, Honduras became a place where Americans were not viewed very favorably, as the unrest has spilled into the streets before elections that are to be held this month.
So with a heavy heart, and with counsel from people I trust, the plug was pulled on the trip. In spite of my belief that everything would be alright, how can I take a group into a country not sure of the outcome? How could I take the teenagers who have accompanied me these last eight years and look their parents in the face before we boarded our flights and assure them everything was ok?….I simply couldn’t.
This is why I say that wisdom comes with a price. For most people the decision to not go was simple. Pastor Phil said we will go next year, so I’ll just wait. When you’re the one who holds the keys to the big picture you have to also take into account the cost of your choices and count the cost. So often we make very important decisions in a vacuum basing them on our wants and needs. When we do this we forget how interconnected we are, and the wrong choice of one can have devastating effects on another.
To push on through all the cautions and stop signs that I’ve encountered the last six months would be to tell wisdom you don’t know what you’re saying. The goal is too important, the work too vital, I’m going in spite of the warnings. When we do this how often do the results end up being so different then the good intentions we started with? How could I face a mother if her child was injured or worse, knowing I saw the caution but chose to ignore them and convinced myself and others to believe in something that wasn’t real?
So, I sit and worry about the people and friends I won’t see, but I know and I’m at peace that the right choice was made. I saw the yellow light, and slowed down and waited at the red. There won’t be any tragedies to live though…just my own unrealistic sense of failure that somehow I should have made this happen. Thankfully, wisdom whispers in my ear the sweet sound of encouragement…you listened…you obeyed…you paid the price…you’ll reap the reward.