In case you missed my last post (which was NOT a poem), I’m headed to Uganda with my church in June. As preparation for that trip, I plan on sharing more details about this trip and reflections about previous missions trips; it’s safe to say I would not be the person I am today had I not gone on those trips, and I look forward to seeing what God will do in my own life, and especially the lives of the teens going.
Today’s poem is a memory from my first missions trip to Mexico and Guatemala in June 2000. The church where we landed after my first church split worked with a teen program out of upstate New York, which offered youth missions trips of a primarily evangelistic nature (handing out tracts, doing programs, etc.). I will freely admit that my motives were entirely selfish: I wanted to see the world. But God was faithful and used that motive to do good things in my own life anyway.
The first spiritual gut punch came a few days into our training (one week with participants of multiple trips preceded three weeks of traveling). I don’t remember the specific context, though I suspect I wrote it during one of our daily lectures.
Here’s the thing. I was a public school Christian. I had already tested my theology pretty seriously. I think at that point I had even started intentionally reading the Bible nightly. I was, to be honest, pretty arrogant in my faith based on how seriously I took it. And then all of a sudden I was one person in a room of at least 150-200 other churchy teens who knew at least as much as I did, and in some ways more. I felt oddly worldly next to all of them. So one day, I wrote this poem.
A note on the poem itself. This is objectively not a good poem. It is bad and raw and angsty, which describes about 90% of my early poetry (the other 10% are merely bad). In other words, if anyone ever looks at my poems and is inspired to pick up poetry, it’s okay to start out with terrible poems. Most of us do. And sometimes it takes you almost 20 years to be willing to share those early works.
June 14, 2000. #126.
when i first came here
i thought i was so strong
i thought i knew my Maker
i thought i knew His plans
but now that i have listened
to His voice—through others—
and realize i don’t even know
what His voice is like
i see my imperfections.
dear Lord, i feel so small.
speak to me, my Savior, please
like You did when i was reborn
i am still a sinner
i am still just a child
i need you, Lord; please come to me
i need to know Your power
and one day, maybe one day,
the day i yield my life,
You’ll say, “well done, my faithful child,”
and the glory will be thine.
Before you click away, just a couple of Uganda prayer requests.
- Pray for the team’s fundraising effort, especially the teens; this isn’t a cheap trip for them.
- Pray for me personally; I’m handling a lot of the backend pre-trip stuff, which I’m doing gladly, but it’s still stressful.
Finally, if you’d like to donate to me personally or the trip as a whole, mail a check made out to Red Cedar Church with Uganda 2020 and my name in the memo line to Red Cedar Church, 550 Grand River Avenue, Okemos, MI 48864. If you prefer, you can use Venmo to make a non-tax-deductible donation; just search for “Red Cedar Church Mission Trip” (@Uganda2020).