They didn't tell me about the burden I would have when I sat in a bar in Spain, having purchased a ticket only four months prior, thinking I was going on a surfing holiday, thinking that I was going to get the world out of my system, to come back and get on the straight and narrow of fatherhood and a mortgage.
They didn't tell me that I'd be burdened sitting at that bar, looking around at the locals sprinkling salt and olive oil on their crusty bread and sipping beer and coffee at twelve minutes past ten in the morning.
They didn't tell me that even the taste of tomato and salt on crusty bread in the morning would prompt me to think of eternity, that eternity would be mixed into the olives and anchovies I would have later in the afternoon and the lemon on ice I'd gulp despairingly late at night in the village plaza, in the thick heat of the Spanish night. I didn't know.
They didn't tell me
They didn't posit to me that in the murmur of Spanish conversations I'd have the time to dream and to despair all at once, to dream about my future and to despair at the thought that I would be once again burdened, burdened by the idea that my dreams entailed reaching further, ploughing deeper and harder, and that it's just reality that growth hurts.
All at once thoughts of trips to India and Africa and Vietnam come crowding in, but the feeling that life is too short, and that Priscila's (my wife) goals come into play here too, grip me crushingly and leave me choking for air.
They didn't tell me that dreaming would now come at a price, that the challenge of refinement meant that my eyes would be pried open to see the bigger picture of a dying world that needed me to take the step, and another, and another, and another, and another. I always understood that Bible verse about running and not growing weary and walking and not fainting as this extra assurance I had that if I chose to run, I could do it confidently.
They didn't tell me that it wasn't an option, that for the rest of my life I would in fact be moving and not growing weary, dreaming without ceasing, reaching higher and ploughing deeper and wider, for in fact those who hope in the Lord will run.
No they didn't tell me
That night in the church, and every night since, they've told me about the free life, the joy found in living out of love for God and people. They rarely talk about the burden though, the burden that comes with taking a step and realising God needs you to take another.
They didn't tell me about the dissatisfaction with being comfortable, that at every point I'd be challenged to make myself uncomfortable, dissatisfied, always pressing and pushing and surging higher and forward, indeed onward toward my goal set for me by Christ, before I was even contemplated by my parents. They rarely speak about that. I don't wholly blame them for it's something difficult to articulate, this inward feeling of constant dissatisfaction, knowing that there are more people to reach, to rescue, more ground to cover.
I've never heard about the wrestle. Only now has it occurred to me.
But they didn't tell me in words
That night when I walked out the front and made my peace with the Lord I didn't imagine he'd want even the calm time. Maybe I gave it lip service but didn't think about it fully, or comprehend it fully when I said, 'Lord I give you all my days, my whole future.' I didn't imagine that I would be the one stirred at night or woken early or nudged at a bar to look around.
I didn't imagine that in the sweetest mango I'd taste the saltiness of a mandate. Not me, my wife who grew up in church, yes, but not me. When two became one I didn't imagine that our trajectory would merge so acutely, that death to self meant a marrying of ideas and motivation and endurance to run the same race. That night at the alter I never imagined life would be so fast-paced. They didn't tell me.
They didn't tell me about the tears I'd cry with new-found compassion about the youth and their experiences, things I'd dodged because I had a loving family and a God watching over me who had a plan for my future. They didn't tell me everything would be so much more real and candid, that I'd have to confess things to my God and to my wife which would hurt and throb and pass away and propel me into a new day to man up and live in Christ and do things better.
They didn't tell me about that. No one did. I didn't imagine it would be like this. That I'd mistake compassion for sheer disgust, that it would anger me seeing how some people lived, at the disproportion of their living to mine. They didn't tell me.
But no one could have described for me the experience of leading a person to Christ in a pub in the town where I'd grown up, and I never could have imagined praying for two men who I didn't know and who didn't know Christ's love, to experience it firsthand.
No one ever sat with me and told me about the joy of preaching the gospel in another country. No one told me about the magnanimity of an alter call. No one could have described for me the privilege of preaching in a church built by my wife's Grandfather, alongside my wife's uncle who translated for me.
I never imagined I'd do it. Not when I was 20 and lying in the back of an ambulance after a bar fight; not when I was 21 and living from one night to the next; not when I was 23 and building huts in the Philippines and with the idea that I alone, carried my own destiny, or when I was 28 and my Grandfather, the best example of a life in Christ I'd ever known, passed away.
I guess life is a burden either way you choose to live.
I'd rather be burdened by a life lived in Christ than a life lived for me.
David Luschwitz grew up in Bankstown, in Sydney's South West. David is currently residing in Huelva, Spain where he plans to spend the next year reading, writing and surfing on the Portuguese coast before returning home to Australia.
To read more of David's writing and to hear his story head to www.davidluschwitz.com.
David's previous articles can be found at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-luschwitz.html