Proverbs 3:5,6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
In January of 2010 Meridian Avenue sent a short-term mission team to the community of Malacatoya. Malacatoya is located in the northwest area of the Nicaraguan Department (state) of Boaco and is to the northeast of Managua, the country’s capital.
Boaco is an area of low mountains and the roads twist around, following the valleys, as they do in many mountainous areas. While there the women slept in the medical center and the men bunked in the one room Catholic Church located across the road from the medical center.
Having awakened around two in the morning I strolled outside and noticed the glow of light above a city far to the southwest. We had traveled by truck nearly three hours to get to the community but were only 40 to 50 miles from Managua as the crow flies. The light in the distance, as seen from the mountain community, could only be coming from Managua.
In the morning, as Pastor Jim and I discussed the glow seen in the distance, our interpreter approached and asked what we were talking about. I pointed in the southwest direction and explained that the lights from Managua was visible at night. Our interpreter pointed to the north saying that Managua was that direction. Pastor Jim and I shared a puzzled look as we knew that the entire Department was to the east and northeast of Managua.
Getting back to our interpreter, we said no, Managua is to the southwest. One of the men from the community then approached and our interpreter turned to him and spoke in Spanish. As he responded to her he pointed to the north. Having had two Nicaraguans respond the same way indicated that we had run into a cultural difference in how directions are thought of.
Coming from our United States culture, we view locations in terms of actual physical direction; Newton is to the north of Wichita and El Dorado is to the east. To those of us from the U.S., we accept this as the way to define direction. Our Nicaraguan friends obviously perceived Managua to be in the direction of the only road leaving the community. In order to get to Managua we had to first travel north along the road that would lead us to a roadway going east, then another going south and finally a road that would take us to the west.
As Christians, we accept that salvation is found through repentance and faith. Also as Christians, we have found our salvation in the loving arms of our Lord.
But we all took different directions and roads to arrive in His arms.
Some of us arrived by the short path, accepting Christ at an early age and did little wandering. Some took a path that was a little longer by first heading away from Christ but then finding the marked path to him. Then there is the long path that some have traveled; a path that wound through valleys, over mountain tops, across dark waters but eventually finding Christ at the end of the path.
In the end, it is the destination that matters because Christ loves us equally. He knows the path that we took towards accepting him but cares only that we have found our way.
“Life is a journey, a winding path filled with many unknowns. It’s only possible to navigate because of God’s power and grace.” Brian Houston.