Not as those without hope

In my last post I talked about how I have grieved since I’ve been on the mission field. I grieve the loss of lots of different things in my life, but mostly I grieve the loss of the idols of my heart. The idols of safety and security, materialism and greed, comfort…I could go on and on. The idolotry of focusing on the sacrifice and not the blessing,” the mess and not the miracle”  (I totally stole that quote from somebody) sometimes can almost consume me.

There’s so much beauty in the sacrifice. But it is still A Sacrifice.

Sanctification hurts. Dying to self hurts. Being a living sacrifice hurts. And I’m going to tell you I climb off of that altar Every. Single. Day and I grieve the loss when I lay my idols down.

But I don’t grieve as one without hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

It’s not just for missionaries or the military or pastors and evangelists. It’s for every single person purchased by the blood of the Lamb.

The grief is ours, but the hope is ours too.

After my last post, I had a dear friend send me a message saying that she was happy to hear that it wasn’t easy for me. It wasn’t because she was happy to see me struggle, but because she just didn’t understand why it was so hard for her when she wasn’t even living on the mission field. And she thought it was easy for us. You know, us “spiritual folk”…

And it made her feel…normal.

Nope, DYING to yourself isn’t going to be sunshine and roses. I would dare say that if you aren’t feeling the pain of taking up your cross DAILY then there just might be something wrong…

Because death just shouldn’t feel good.

Some days I struggle to lay my life down again because I keep crawling right off of that altar.  And I’m not doing anybody any favors by pretending like that isn’t the ugly truth. Those idols are near and dear to my heart and to unclench my tight fists takes a miracle from the Holy Spirit.

A straight miracle.

And sometimes I grieve the loss.

But do you know what all of that does for me? It makes me run to Him.

Sometimes I even run to Him with idols tightly in my hands.

Why?

Because His burden is light, y’all. (You can take the girl out of Mississippi, but…)

Because….And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Because the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Because the One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

Because the Father is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch you out of the Father’s hand.

Because His love reaches to the heavens, His faithfulness to the skies.

And because whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Because He covers you with his feathers, and under his wings you find refuge.

Because His faithfulness is  your shield and rampart.

And you can say “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Say it. Say it out loud with hope.

He began the work. He will complete it. He doesn’t use us because we’re somehow “worthy”. No, He uses us in spite of ourselves.

Its okay to grieve the loss, but grieve with hope that only comes from the One who can trade beauty for ashes.

Because He is faithful.

 
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Where we are…

Honestly, what I’m about to say makes me very uncomfortable. It seems God likes to bring me to that place. A lot. I have prayed so desperately over this post. I have prayed that I would communicate with humility what He has asked me to communicate, but I have also prayed that I would be bold enough to say some hard, even embarrassing things. Even more, I have prayed for you, reading this post.

I remember many times sitting at church and listening to missionaries and wanting to stick my fingers in my ears because I was afraid God might call me to go. It has been a fear in the back of my mind most of my life. I was so surprised one day to find out that there were many other Christians that didn’t dread hearing missionary reports. I’m probably the most unlikely missionary you’ll ever meet. Most of my life has been spent running from Him. It may not have looked like that on the outside, but my heart has always been wild. I don’t submit easily. Come to find out His grace is greater than the sin in my heart.

When I was a pastor’s wife I would get embarrassed just thinking about people’s tithe ending up as my husband’s paycheck. And, honestly, I would hope that all of my friends at church didn’t think about it. It made me uncomfortable.

So when He gave us the grace to obey a call to the mission field, my knees shook when I thought about asking people for money – especially people I know.

Alot of that comes from pride in my heart – it’s awkward to need something from people, but what’s worse than that is never having the ability to repay them. Never being able to square up. Saying: “Please give me your money and you will get a thank you note and our newsletter in return.” leaves you in a perpetual state of vulnerability. I’m beginning to think that’s right where He wants us.

If I (or Josh) could go out and just work harder and make more money, that is what we would do. But I am beginning to discover through this process that that would cause us both to miss out on a huge blessing. We would miss out on watching the Lord provide for us in the most amazing ways through His people and the church would miss out on the gift of investing in His economy. (aka storing up treasures in heaven.)

I never thought I would say I am grateful to be financially supported by the church, but I am.

So why am I telling you this?

Our team has to raise all of our financial support. We have about 25% left to raise. We cannot go until we get 100%. We cannot go without the generosity of God’s people. We need people to pledge to give monthly support, whether it be $20 or $100. We need your monthly support. And I’m asking for it.

I’m asking you to give. If that makes you feel awkward, please know that I feel awkward-er. But I’m not asking you to give to me. I’m asking you to give to God’s work. He has called me to be a part of it and He has called you to be a part of it. One of the greatest misunderstandings in the church today is that missions is optional.

It isn’t.

Missions has already been decided for us. The great commission was given to the church. It is explicit in the Gospel. The only question we have to answer is “How?” How do we respond personally to the only choice we are given – go or send?

God has called some of us to go and He has called some of us to watch over missions from home. Both of these callings are vital. This is the way He ordained it. We cannot go without you. We cannot. It is his plan for you to send us.

When we obey God by participating in missions, we are responding out of love for Him. The most tangible way to love Christ is to make Him known. “If you love Me, feed my sheep.”

We know He will not return until His name has been preached throughout the whole earth, to every tongue and every tribe and every nation. How much do we want to see His face? There are over 3 billion people on planet earth right now living a hopeless life without Christ. We have hope for them. Does that move us to obedience?

Charles Spurgeon was asked this question, “Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?” Spurgeon replied, “It is more a question with me whether we – who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not – can be saved.” We have the awesome privilege of giving the hopeless the hope that we have. The hope that has been given to us freely. I’m asking you to freely give – to invest in God’s economy.

The wonderful thing about this investment is that there is absolutely no risk involved. I am reminded of something Jim Elliot said before he literally gave his life for the Gospel, “He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep to gain what He cannot lose.” When Jesus calls us to give, it is actually an invitation to receive – to gain something eternal. I’m asking you to invest in this eternal treasure with us. Why? Because dying is gain. Because what we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Because He first loved us. Because we long together to see Him face to face.

Because He Is Worth It.

May His kingdom come.