Sunday, December 19, 2010

How does God call people to give their lives in missions?

John Piper says, “He does it, along with other influences, by the mysterious and wonderful awakening of fear-conquering desire for the work through the preaching of his word. He does it by helping us count the costs so there is no romantic naiveté about missions. And he does it by filling us with a longing to know these blessings to the full”. I would say that this is an accurate description of how God moves in the heart and draws people to the special calling of missions. I would also say that this is how God moved me so many years ago, first through the ministry in Mexico, later in Argentina and ultimately in my sorority in college. All “foreign” lands, all needing the love and truth of God and His word.
I was recalling this morning my commissioning the Sunday before I left home to give two years of my life to this calling, when I was asked, “Why do this? Why give two years of your life to this work?” I remember my response clearly – that beyond God moving circumstances and drawing me to this ministry, the greatest reason was that 60 years from now I didn’t want to look back on my life and wish I had done more. I used to be passionate, full of vision and possibility, not thinking about the risks but of the blessings. Maybe my response to Brian’s question two years ago was cliché, but it was true in my heart.
Now with only five weeks remaining in Peru I look back over my time and can’t help but to reflect and give an account of the two years I’ve spent in this church-planting ministry. Someone asked me once not long ago to describe in a nutshell my time in Peru. And as I thought about the question and gave my response, I couldn’t help but feel a bit discouraged at how I summed up my time here.
My missions experience in Peru has been passionless obedience, for the sake of obedience, to God’s call and God’s design on my life.
Where did that wide-eyed, passionate and visionary little girl go? Deep down I believe she is still there, but why did she leave me when I most wanted her to be present? As I think over my time here I have to admit that I am somewhat ashamed of my selfish grumblings and negative attitude driven mainly by dissatisfaction with where I am now that my formal ministry responsibilities have ended. I’m tired, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually and when it comes down to it, I just don’t want to be here anymore. How’s that for a super un-spiritual confession?

This morning I listened to a sermon by John Piper entitled “I Am Sending You Out as Sheep in the Midst of Wolves”. He preached on the passage of Matthew 10:16-31, and addresses the dangers, and the blessings of living out a calling to frontier missions. As he spoke and dissected the passage, as the blessings greatly outweighed the dangers I was convicted of my selfishness and lack of desire to be here. He notes that the first blessing is “The Blessing of Being Sent by Christ” – what a great privilege to be called by Christ and sent by Him to do a good work. What a great privilege. How must Christ feel by my dissatisfaction of this great privilege?
I was speaking to my mom the other day and was struck when she reminded me that God’s timing always has purpose, that there is always reason behind when we leave and when we come home. She was right, and I needed to be reminded of that. I have five weeks left and I now am faced with a choice to continue living these last days grumbling about how I would rather be home with my family, friends and fiancé for Christmas, or I can remember the blessings of being here, I can pray with all my might that God would reignite the passion I once felt for missions and I can move forward in forgiveness and grace remember that God has reason behind His timing.
I humbly ask for your prayers in these final weeks that I would choose to be “the better man”, and press on in spite of missing my loved ones during the holidays, in spite of being tired, and in spite of feeling unworthy to be here. Pray that I would take every opportunity to share the love of Christ with those I am around and that I would not waste a single minute that I remain a missionary of Jesus Christ.

24 comments:

Vic Webb said...

You must read "Radical" by David Plat(if you haven't) It is awesome for anyone passionate about taking Jesus Christ to all corners of the world.

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Evan Nehring said...

Enjoyed hearing Piper in person when I was in college. Good stuff!

Anonymous said...

Bethany, although I have never left the border of the US I have experienced the very same emotions and what you called "passionless obedience." I am just now coming to the conclusion you have already made. I will be praying for you!
May the Lord supply you with the most amazing time !

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