I’ve been trying to figure out for the past several weeks how to describe our experience in the SPLICE program. As the program continued, it’s impact cutting more deeply into my life, I found it harder and harder to adequately describe. I’m not sure that I can do it now, but I need to, so I’ll do my best.
If I had to summarize the program, I would describe it as a stripping away, pulling down all of my walls and filters and then forcing me to look at what remained. The program began by asking our class where our values would be challenged and which of our values were Biblical Absolutes and which were simply North American. The answers in many cases surprised me. It would have been easy to blow much of this off, thinking of the Western European culture, but that doesn’t mean nothing is different, only that the differences are more subtle, the currents more dangerous.
We had to face our fears, accept the losses we will sustain, years with friends and family we will never have, relationships our children will never know. We had to be brutally honest time and time again about who we are, what motivates us, and how fallen we are. Time and time again, I watched myself choose to try to do things my way, and time and time again, I faced the futility of that choice, and my need to lean on God.
I saw parts of myself, patterns of behavior, I haven’t seen in many years and did not honestly remember where there. Some I hope to hang on to, others I’m eager to let go.
There is no question it was an amazing time of growth, but also very very difficult. We forged deep relationships with missionaries most of whom are not even headed to the same continent we are. We said tearful goodbyes to friendships we never imagined could become so deep in three weeks, and I find myself powerfully motivated to seek the kind of transparency we attained in that environment without all the walls and filters that carry us through life.
It has been hard this week, trying to reintigrate into my former life. It’s hard to explain, but suddenly when all your walls and filters are stripped away, all the things you hide behind to protect yourself are gone, people who you love, who are dear to you suddenly seem dangerous, and what was home feels foreign and alien.
As the final week of our pre-field training finished, we had a powerful time of worship, and for the first time in my life, I understood the final verse of Genesis 2. I used to think that was some odd reference to their clothes, maybe a comment on the innocence of Adam and Eve. But I now believe that their nakedness was not just physical, but spiritual. For a few moments, as the SPLICE program came to an end, I was naked before God, and though I was ashamed of all that that revealed about me, my brokenness and falleness, somehow in that moment, I was more free than I think I have ever been. My hearts desire, my earnest prayer, is that I can find someway not to rebuild all those walls and filters, to lean on God to protect my heart, and to stand before Him naked, gradually stripping away the dark humanness of Ted and replacing it with the love of Jesus Christ.
This is Josiah Chapman. He doesn’t have filters or walls yet. I want to learn to experience life the way he does. Photo courtesy of the brilliant Trace DiCocco