I’ve been thinking about missions lately especially since writing my post about my crazy tag section and pointing out that I used to write a ton about missions, but not so much anymore.
When I left college, I only had two church requirements: 1) that the church be a Bible-teaching, Jesus-loving place and 2) that the church would have a heart for missions.
Oddly enough, right when I started attending was when Lifesong was growing in a heart for missions and the lost and it was a perfect fit.
Now in the transition to Seeds, I did not feel like I had much of a say in the matter of whether we were to go or not (though my husband will disagree haha), and the question of missions crossed both of our minds, but didn’t play too much of a factor in deciding to go on the church plant. I think we both knew though from what Pastor Cory had told another couple that if missions was something we were hoping for in the next 5 years or so, it would be wiser to stay at Evergreen. Nevertheless, Kenny prayed, felt called to Seeds, and we went (though I must admit I went somewhat reluctantly, but that’s a story for another time!).
So though missions continues to be on my heart, it really hasn’t been something we’ve actively pursued since getting married. The biggest extent of our missions pursuit happened this past February when we attended two missions conferences: Passion for the Nations and World Mandate West.
Both were interesting and exciting and might have had their drawbacks, but I still felt the Lord tugging at my heart for the lost and very specifically for Japan.
And so I’m left with this question: what do we do with missions?
It’s clearly on my heart. It’s clearly on Kenny’s. I wept when I felt God speaking to me about Japan, reassuring me that He knows my heart and telling me that just as Westerners (most likely) brought the Gospel to my samurai great-great-great-great(?) grandfather who started our spiritual legacy, God would send us to take the Gospel back.
So I cried, and wept, and admitted to God that I felt forgotten, like He didn’t care to use me. I journaled furiously and didn’t want to share with Kenny because the things written on those pages seemed so impossible, so fragile.
And at the end of both conferences, when they had the classic missions style “altar call” and asked you to come to the front if your heart was crying out, “Here I am Lord, send me!”, I must admit I felt almost foolish as I followed my heart and with my husband walked to the front, and even more foolish tossing my shoes as an act of surrender to God and His missions for me.
So is it foolish of us to keep going up for these missions altar calls when missions seems like such a far away dream? Aren’t we too old for this, with Kenny now 30, me in my late 20’s, and with both of us hurdling toward parenthood and growing more and more roots in the SGV? It certainly seemed like it as I looked around at all these passionate collegians with their whole lives ahead of them, with few roots holding them down, full of passion, full of hopes and dreams.
Is it silly for us old fogeys to have college-style dreams?
I think when you’re a collegian and you go up for those altar calls, you feel so assured, so set, so determined to go and make a difference in the nations. And yes, maybe a big part of it probably is naivete, but the Bible calls us to not look down on those who are young and a long time ago Jesus Himself rebuked His more realistic, “wiser” disciples when they tried to prevent children from running to Him saying “the Kingdom belongs to such as these.”
I want to have that childlike faith and that collegian-like daring to continue to dream big dreams. It’s so easy to get bogged down and jaded by the world and “reality.” And it’s even easier to get entangled in the world’s dreams… dreams of a nice house, kids, comfort and ease. I think the more we have in this world, the harder it is to dream God-sized dreams because we get so comfortable and realize that hey I can live a pretty great life without being extreme.
I think the difference now is I’m more content with what will happen if we never get to live out my God-sized dreams. I hold my hopes more loosely now. I go on the altar calls with an open hand saying “this is what I feel You’ve placed on my heart, so now I will trust You to make it happen and be content with wherever You call me.” If God never opens doors for missions and asks us to stay in the SGV, I will choose to trust Him and find contentment. And by His grace I will hopefully still find ways to live radically for Him every day.
I think that’s one of the other differences that has come with maturity. When we’re young, we tend to think “once I get to the missions field, then I’m going to live this radical, sold-out, evangelistic life for Jesus!” Yet, we don’t live that kind of life when we’re at home, at work, at play. Something Pastor Cory wisely says is that Evergreen will never send on missions anyone who is not already living a sold-out, passionate, Jesus-filled life here. If you’re not living that type of life here, what makes you think you’ll live that type of life there once all the hype dies away?
Missions is HARD. Harder in many ways than life here. So while we are still living here, let’s use this time as a training ground for persevering and enduring even when there’s not much hype over living a Christian life.
Until then, I will continue to cry out and plead Isaiah 6:8.
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Believing this in faith. I will go, wherever His call may be.