Category Archives: Costa Rica

Finding a Purpose in Christ

“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment…

Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.  

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. … Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.”  (Colossians 1:16-22) MSG

This section of Scripture was one I read and meditated on during the second day into my Costa Rica mission trip this past August.  The group devotional I had helped write was going to focus on Col 1:3-14 so I decided to keep on with that theme and read a little further on in Colossians. Each of these three sections from The Message translation struck a chord in me in regards to our trip.

What stood out to me the most at that time was from the first section: “…everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.”  This helped me realize that everything – even the hard things we were going to see in Costa Rica –  can have a purpose if redeemed by Christ.  I prayed that God would help me remember that truth.

So how did that go?  How did that truth hold up during the rest of the mission trip?  How is it seeking to transform my reflections even now?  Well, I think it did shape my thoughts during rest of the trip and helped me to continue to look for hope in the midst of some hard things we encountered.

In particular, was when we met with three community leaders from an impoverished area in San Jose called Los Guido.  To hear them describe the reality of the lives of people in Los Guido and particularly to hear one woman share of her struggle to raise up her sons in such an area was heart-breaking.  But then to hear about them still continuing to fight for change even in the midst of their own struggles was also very encouraging.  Especially encouraging was the opportunity for a staff member of Roblealto, our church’s global partner, to help these community leaders began to catch the vision for the new child care center being built by Roblealto in Los Guido.  To see these community leaders realize that this project has an opportunity to change not only the lives of families right now but also shape the lives of future generations was promising.

Now, having already done my trip and had some time to reflect,  I think what hits me more is from the last two sections in Colossians 1:16-22: “…all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe – people and things, animals and atoms – get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies … You yourselves are a case study of what he does.”  So why do those particular phrases jump out of the page at me now?  I believe it is because it helps me not simply think of the hard things I saw in Costa Rica and say, “Those poor people, needing help, needing Christ,” but to lump myself into the message and realize that all of us need help, need Christ but just in different ways.

This broadens my view of what exactly is meant by “broken and dislocated” and then helps me begin to look for such places in my own life and the world around me.  This mind shift is vitally important in allowing Christ to open my eyes to how He is starting to fix and fit such places together in “vibrant harmonies.”  Granted when you read much of the news these days, with all the tragedies taking place around the world, this doesn’t always seem to be the case.

Which is why I feel it is so important for us to start small and then work outward from there.  To first recognize where Christ to making “broken and dislocated” places in our own lives whole.  Then to move on to finding similar places in our local community and within the lives of our friends and family.  The hope that can spring from such a lens can then allow us to view the broader context of world problems without becoming angry at injustice, overwhelmed by many needs or paralyzed about how to respond.  May I continue to take this lesson to heart!

“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment…

Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.  

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. … Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.”  (Colossians 1:16-22) MSG

Journal Entry Take-aways

 “Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)

This verse relates to a journal entry I wrote in August during my recent mission trip to Costa Rica:

“One thing Alex (a sixteen year old we interviewed from Roblealto’s Alumni program) mentioned was about how seeing the dream of Roblealto start from a chapel in 1930 to what it is today and then to see the dream keep growing and growing was very inspiring to him.  That brought me to the realization that one person can make a difference wherever they are put by God.  It was also personally inspiring to me to realize a dream can become bigger than you realize and take a life of its own (even if you don’t see the results in your lifetime). For if God is in it than it is really out of your hands anyway, isn’t it?!

I saw how we can “start small and just take it one step at a time.” I wanted to pray that for Alex when we prayed for him at the end of the interview but I only thought of it after the fact. (But maybe that truth/idea is more just for me anyway?) So, what have I gotten out of today? What is my takeaway? – “God is the one who causes the growth and true transformation (in our lives, in our dreams, in our relationships, in our faith, etc)!”  To realize this truth can be life changing and freeing for me and potentially for others who I can share that sentiment with and have them to grasp the concept I am trying to convey.”  (Read more about how this interview affected me here.)

Here is another related journal entry as well:

“What is my takeaway from today? – “God’s work is done in the nitty-gritty of everyday life as well as the glamour jobs!” Those teachers at Roblealto’s childcare center weren’t doing glamorous work but were showing up day after day for the hard work in order to be an agent for God’s transformation in those kids’ lives. They were not making excuses or feeling sorry for themselves like they weren’t really doing anything important or making a difference, as I was just doing myself. They know it takes consistency and hard work in an interdisciplinary team working together to change these kids’ lives.

So, it isn’t all highlights/high points in our walk with God.  Lord, help me remember this truth the rest of our trip and in the future. Sometimes just being present in other’s lives is more important than “helping” or “trying to be productive.”

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 4:30-32)