"The Bible says not to covet, even if it is your friend's trip to Africa," were the wise words a friend told me earlier this year. One of my dear friends, who happens to be married to my husband's cousin, making her not only a friend, but family, was moving to Africa as a missionary, and I was very jealous. So, why was I coveting my friend's trip to Africa, you may wonder. Well, let me tell you.
As a jr high girl, I read The Star of Light by Melissa M. St. John. It is the story of a missionary nurse in India who cares for street children in a very large city. A brother and sister (who is blind) run away from a terrible situation at home, in search of this nurse. The story recounts how the boy learns about Jesus and what happens both to him and his young sister, who is blind. It captured my heart and set my direction for the next several years, until I completed my nursing degree, even determining my summer plans for three different summers. For most of my life, it has been my dream not only to work as a registered nurse, but to work as a registered nurse as a missionary in Africa.
Somewhere between graduating from nursing school and getting married, I got off the road I'd so carefully planned. Instead of heading to the foreign field, I ran into road-blocks. Honestly, I don't remember what they were, but somehow I didn't make it to Africa like I'd planned. Then, when I met this increcible man and fell in love, it suddenly wasn't just about me anymore. My husband had his own set of dreams and desires. Not only that, but I totally under-estimated his determination and desire to do something besides go to Africa!
So, instead of going to Africa and working as a nurse, I stayed in the US, busy with a different kind of nursing. My husband and I joined the staff of a large non-profit organization and began working as life coaches focusing on the spiritual needs of college students. It is a wonderful way to invest my energy, as is pouring myself into raising my children. Yet, part of my heart still yearns to go to Africa. Thus, when I came face-to-face with my dear friend's immenent departure, I was overcome with heartache, disappointment, and (though I hate to admit it) jealousy!
My sweet friend noticed my tear-streaked face, and after inquiring as to its cause, gave me her sage, and sound, advice not to covet my friend's trip to Africa. Unfortunately, it is much easier to know the right thing than it is to actually do it. An update just arrived, via e-mail, from my dear friend, describing the trip to their East Africa location. I'm coveting their trip to Africa! Ok, not any more. But, I did. It was, of course, in the most honorable of ways. Still, it was coveting. Yuck.
The commandment not to covet was written a very long time ago, when the world was a much different place. But, it still applies today, in the 21st century, where people like me can covet things never imagined by those around when it was written. The general idea is exactly the same; don't want what God has given someone else. God is helping me recognize that I'm wanting what He has given others, while at the same time helping me appreciate and want what He has given me. Not easy, but it is a very good thing.