Friday, April 25, 2008

Missionary or Ambitionary?

Being a missionary may seem exotic to some who are enticed by the thought of travel, other cultures, new places and people. Intrigued by newsletters filled with stories of how people have been helped and changed by God’s love they imagine the life of a missionary to be something more. Newsletters do not come out everyday. Many days are just ordinary days with sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, one day following another. Then there are those other days, the ones that will never make the newsletter. Like last Sunday, when we wondered why are we here? What was God thinking?

It was a typical Sunday morning, about 20 children between the age of 18 months and 18 years arrived early, late and right on time. It seemed the children were all over the place mentally and physically and they did not seem to be learning a thing, nor did they care. The teacher was not prepared in spite of all the helps we gave her and the whole morning threatened to turn into a free-for-all. I corralled, herded and showed more love than I felt.

After Sunday school I turn my face toward the wall for few minutes of prayer, asking the Lord to bring peace to my heart and focus to my mind and then I turned to lead the small group who had gathered for church. There was no sea of faces only the same handful of people who had been faithful from the early days of our ministry until now. My mind wondered, “Where were the new people? Where were the ones we ministered to during the week? But I reined in my thoughts and concentrated on the words of the song. “He leadeth me, He leadeth me, by His own hand He leadeth me, His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand he leadeth me.” Then why does it feel so useless? Where is the fruit? What are we doing wrong? “By waters still or troubled sea, still ‘tis Thy hand that leadeth me.”

I came home dragging my weary heart behind me. Grabbing my devotional book and Bible and went straight to the porch for a heart to heart with my Father. I told Him I needed some clear answers, real answers. Were we just ambitionaries, eager to do this missionary thing but missing something in the translation from His heart to ours?

I opened the devotional which threads together various verses on each day.
I read, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1). Thank you, Lord, I feel a lot better now! NOT!
I read a little more, “The LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isa 49:14) OK, I know you remember me.
“You will not be forgotten by Me!” (Isa 44:21) Thanks Lord, I know you care.
“Now Jesus loved Martha…" (John 11:5-6) And my tears stopped and peace washed over my soul as I soaked in the reality that, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Then He gave me the answers to my questions. He is lovingly doing His work in me to perfect my faith because it is more precious to Him than my need for job satisfaction. “Trials come to prove the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

I learned two things last Sunday, neither of them in church but both because of church: 1) Jesus loves me, He knows how I feel and He cares. 2) My faith is worth more than anything to Him, and He will do and allow many difficult things to perfect it. He also promises to lead me through each circumstance, not by a letter or email but by His hand. I recommend you go back to the first verse, Psalm 13:1 , and read the short chapter. Watch how questions about life turn to trust in His love, and thoughts of His love bring songs of God's goodness!
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD,
for he has been good to me.

And that is how it really happened.