Joel & Angel Ballew

770-331-4384

joel@12degreesnorth.org

ballews@gmail.com

Joel's Skype ID: joelballew

Angel's Skype ID: angelynnballew

Twitter: @joelballew

 

U.S. Address:

1730 Sugarloaf Club Drive

Duluth, GA  30097

Colombian Address:

The Ballew's

Carrera 52 No. 90-187

Barranquilla, Atlantico

South America

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@2016 by The Ballews.

The Land of the Pretty Things

Updated: Dec 26, 2019





Every place I have lived has its fair share of pretty things. Items, places, experiences that feel luxurious. While gazing upon them or lavishing in them you feel almost wrong. This is too good, you tell yourself. I shouldn't have this type of exorbitant pleasure at my disposal.

You especially feel guilty if you have also experienced, witnessed, or lived around or as the less privileged. However, not before long, the luxuriousness doesn't seem quite so wrong. Eventually, it becomes a part of life and the glitter fades in your own eyes.


Moving to a new country has its benefits. The excitement and newness of tropical fruits year-round. A beach not far from our home. A city, with the added benefits of walking most places. Sitting outside with a cup of Colombian coffee every day gazing at the trees and palms. The squawking parakeets making their presence known. These are normal facets of our lives in Colombia, but they are part of contentment that did not just happen. Our ease in Colombia ebbed and flowed. It took time. Some times days dragged on and on in the sweltering heat as I wrestled and desired familiar creature comforts. Comfort. Material goods. Rest, even. Day after day surrender to life in a new place slowly became our call. As the days pressed on our lives began to form and tune in... monotone... The call was loud and clear: Surrender.


Coming back, the luxuries of America are obvious. General safety, protection... choice. Oh, the choices. I have a particular taste for healthy living. Healthy cleaning products, hobbies, crafts, decorating, and homeschool. There are infinite options here. Infinite, it feels.

As I walk down the aisles of Sprouts with my jaw open and this weird sensation jumping into my throat, I realized just what has been bubbling inside me this past week since returning. I have come face-to-face with my "ring".... my precious.


We left Colombia with a feeling of dread. But why? Why feel dread in returning to this familiar homeland with family and friends? The dread comes from fear.

It's an internal rewinding of the clock.


Remember this place? Remember the people you left? Remember these goods?

Remember how easy your life was? Remember how comfortable everything is? Yes, sink down into that down-comforter. Ease into that hot shower and reminisce. Yes, reminisce on what was and still is. You are missing out. Eat, drink, and be merry. Enjoy the life that should or could have been.

It's the voice of the Tempter. You miss it here. You aren't truly happy there. You can't be... you don't have all this.


Of course, that is the dread of returning and remembering...the Land of the Pretty Things.


Yet I hear another voice calling me. The steady voice we heard not so long ago before we left the first time. You will go to the land that I will show you. I will provide for you. I will show you where. I will be your God and you will be mine...set apart. I AM has sent you.


This I AM that echoes in my soul is all I need. I AM is where I want to be. The Great I AM who stripped away the unneeded stuff. The LORD who began to show me who He was and is and is to come.


I am my Beloveds and He is mine. All the treasures of the world cannot compare to the delight I feel of being with Him. I depend on Him. My faith has been made stronger. I believe with a faith I never had. I have put all my trust in Him over and over again, and the outcome is forever the same. He is my rock. I remind myself of this, and my life sings through aisles of Sprouts in Georgia or Exito in Barranquilla.


My battle is not unique to me. The Tempter would like me to believe that I am the only one struggling and wrestling with this fear.


And so... I will stand firm, as Paul said over and over. I am not going to fall into a trap. I am going to rejoice in the LORD who is the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

I will rejoice because wherever I go, He is with me.

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