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Where Did Your Spirit Come Alive?

This morning the doorbell rang. It was a repairman. I invited him into the house. I introduced myself. He said his name was Manuel. Where are you from?” I asked. And in my spirit I somehow sensed what he was going to say. “Huehuetenango, Guatemala.” What a great answer! I said, …
By Seth Barnes

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This morning the doorbell rang. It was a repairman. I invited him into the house.

I introduced myself. He said his name was Manuel.

Where are you from?” I asked. And in my spirit I somehow sensed what he was going to say.

“Huehuetenango, Guatemala.”

What a great answer! I said, “That’s where I went on my first mission trip in 1975! My team spent a couple of months building a camp just across the river and down the hill from the Zocalo (Mayan ruins on the outskirts of town).”

Huehuetenango is where God began to pull me out of my small world-view to see what he sees: the kingdom, a place where all humans belong to him, where all are his children – many gone prodigal and in need of rescue.

Perhaps it helped that I wasn’t loving life in Missouri. My life there seemed claustrophobic. In my spirit, I was looking for a country like Guatemala to love. I needed a place to come alive.

I remember being amazed by its colorful markets. We passed Mayan ruins and volcanos to get to them. The world beckoned to me from Huehuetenango. And God began to speak to me there.

You can’t escape the places you’re from. They shape you into the person you are today. You and I are who we are in part because of the places we’ve been.

Some of us come from places of pain. Some of us have escaped them and slammed the door behind us. Maybe you’re from Toledo or maybe from Tuscaloosa. Perhaps you’ve lived in rejection or maybe you escaped from a church split. And it’s painful to go back there, even in your mind.

And some of us come from places that have deeply shaped our imagination and our sense of possibility. Huehuetenango did that for me. Without that place, I don’t know if I would have committed my life to making disciples and then to sending them to dry and hopeless places. Roots are important.

God knows I need reminders of my roots, reminders of my call. The fight for destiny and call is a tough one. It’s easy to let entropy take its course. It’s kind of like falling in and out of love. How do people move from deep romance to filing for divorce? For one thing, they lose sight of those memories where love felt overwhelming.

So God sends us people like Manuel as reminders.

The irony is that Manuel is the third person I’ve met in the last couple of years from Huehuetenango. What are the odds? It’s a town of 81,000 people 269 km from Guatemala City and I meet them in Gainesville and happen to ask each of them where they are from.

I love how God reminds us of our roots. I first got inspired to follow Jesus’ Great Commission in Huehuetenango. And this morning a reminder of that inspiration came and knocked on my front door.

Where in the world were you when God spoke to you? What did it smell like there? When was the last time you dug through the attic and pulled out that journal where you recorded what it felt like and what you pledged in response?

Christmas is a good season for that. It takes us back to places of origins. Places like Bethlehem and Huehuetenango. Places where life was birthed. If the coals of life feel like dying embers, it’s important to blow on them.

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