Isn’t it amazing how many things in life are “supposed to be” a certain way? Home-making, marriage, pregnancy, church, Christianity, missions, family… the list could go on forever. Allow me to tackle just a few on the list.
Family is “supposed to be” a great big happy thing! Right? No one ever disagrees, no one owes anyone else money, everyone is interested in each other’s lives (but of course not overly-nosey), we all support and encourage each other in our dreams and endeavors, in-laws are just another extension of immediate family, and we all spend every holiday together. Blissfully playing games and eating way too much yummy food. Does that describe your family? I’ve had a few discussions with several friends recently. We all seem to be suffering from the same disillusioned thought: “family isn’t supposed to be like this…” And yet no one has ever known a family that is exactly what it’s “supposed to be.” I guess this is related to un-met expectations on many levels. But I’ve found that many times, dealing with what is “supposed to be” is not usually dealing with your own expectations, but someone else’s. The first two examples of this that pop into my mind are 1.) Christianity and 2.) Missions.
I would imagine that if you gathered 20 people in a room and took a poll regarding Christianity, you’d have 20 different opinions on what a Christian is supposed to look like. Only God knows what combination of those opinions is truly correct. If you are a Christian, you are responsible to be and act like and look exactly like the person that God has laid on *your* heart. No one else’s. If you feel that it’s wrong for *you* to wear makeup or cut your hair short or wear jeans, then by all means. Avoid it like the plague. But for you to presume to tell anyone else that’s it’s wrong for *them* to wear makeup, cut their hair or wear jeans, means that you are attempting to take God’s position in the conviction department. I really don’t think He appreciates that. He’s good at His job, and doesn’t require an assistant.
As for missions. I think it’s ironic that of all the times I’ve heard “missionaries are supposed to…” it has never come from another missionary. Generally it’s from someone who has not been-there-done-that and has no idea what full-time mission work is like! Why can’t missionaries (and their modes of operations) be as different as the people themselves? I really don’t believe that God uses cookie cutters. If you feel God calling you to be involved in missions, that doesn’t necessarily mean that He is asking you to move 3,000 miles from home and start a church from scratch. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to go through your denomination’s seminary and then language school for 5 yrs before being allowed to actually be a missionary. We serve a creative God who is perfectly capable of calling you to a specific task that He has already perfectly equipped you for. Your call to missions might mean a prison ministry in your home-town, or a home-based Bible study, or AWANAS with your kids. For us, it means (for now anyway) working with indigenous people in Southern Mexico. I think God has called all Christians to be involved in missions somehow. Either in your home town or in another country. Either doing it yourself, supporting someone else, or both. What I know for sure is that I should be honored to be called where I am, not apologizing for it. I’m working on that. I tend to apologize to people here because I’m “new” here, am not fluent in any language other than my own, and very rarely go on jungle trips with Nathan. Well, that last part *does* bother me and we are trying to find an affordable travel trailer so that we can all go. But for the rest of it, I need to stop apologizing. It is what it is, and I’m doing the best I can with the tools God has given me. I’m going to try and stop apologizing to everyone back home as well. I feel like I am so often saying “sorry I have to answer God’s call on my life”… isn’t that so backwards though? I should be thrilled and honored to answer any call from Him, and not half so concerned about what people think of it. Of course I would love it if everyone I knew was encouraging and supportive and tried to understand where we’re coming from. As if leaving my family, friends, church, Starbucks, Old Navy and beloved US of A behind isn’t hard enough, being told that we shouldn’t even be going is very disheartening! I’ve determined to stop letting that rob me of the joy of serving my God in the situation He currently has me in. I know several of you are in the same boat. Some of you have endured outright persecution for doing your best to follow God’s direction in your life. Hang in there! Know that the Lord sees your heart and understands the hard part of obedience.
I’ve ranted long enough! My mission field awaits. It’s calling me from the living room where 1 daughter needs to be fed. Another is in the bathroom needing assistance. The third (my sweet first-born) is attempting to assist me in putting clean dishes away and it sounds as though a few items have hit the floor. I pray that you will receive a fresh vision of your mission field today, wherever it is! Sometimes we just need someone to say “that looks hard… can I pray for you?” Let me be that person for you today! I would love for you to tell me how I can pray for you in your field.