After this semester, I want to go home. I’m tired of being gone. I’m tired of feeling transient and rootless. I want to go home, start my career, live with my family and figure out the next step as it comes. I want to have a rhythm, and maybe start looking at grad schools. I want to start my life.
But I feel like there's a chance God might have a different idea, I’m not happy about it.
First, it seem to start while thinking about my family, specifically my brothers, and the choices I've made to stay close to them. I figure anyone reading this blog probably knows these things but I’ll restate them anyways:
What was one of the biggest motivations for choosing JBU? To be close to my brothers.
Why was I in Tulsa this summer? So I could be close to my family and support them.
Why have I never really considered overseas missions? Because I can’t bear the idea of being away from my family for that long.
In the midst of these reflections God asked me… “Is your family an idol?” Laughing, I dismissed this question, “Of course not, I just love them a lot.” To which I felt Him reply, “Do you love them more than me? Because that’s the definition of an idol.” Drat. *Sigh* I don’t know…
I Don’t Feel That
On top of that, the theme of evangelism in other countries has been showing up in most things I've read lately. For example, this last week I read Through the Gates of Splender by Elizabeth Elliot. The book recounts the story of Jim Elliot and friends and how they worked towards the evangelism of the Huaorani tribe in Ecuador. I began reading the book out of duty as it was an assignment for a class. As I started, I assumed that I was already overly familiar with the story and the whole thing would just be a review. Of course, I was wrong. The book inspired and challenged me. One thing in particular that stood out to me was the men’s passion for people to hear good news of Jesus. They yearned for the Huaorani people to know the gospel, they hungered for it, they risked their lives for it.
That yearning, that hunger, I am not sure I know what that feels like. I’ve studied missions. I’ve been on mission trips. I’ve shared the gospel with people. But, I am unfamiliar with the urgency that these men felt concerning people who hadn’t received an opportunity to know the truth. I don’t feel it like they did. Maybe its because I don’t consider the gospel to be that big of a treasure, or perhaps I don’t actually believe in hell. Whatever the reason, I don’t feel the urgency that drove the lives of those men. I want to feel it.
Don’t Miss The Point
Then tonight, I was reading Radical by David Platt. In one chapter he asks what is the central message of Christianity. The most common answer he receives from people is “God loves me.” What though are the ramifications of such an answer? Note the object in that sentence: me. A obvious result of this thinking is that the central message of Christianity begins to revolve around us.
In contradiction to this reasoning, God makes it pretty clear in the Bible that He is actually in the middle of it all. Consider Ezekiel 36:22-23
Therefore say to the Israelites, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you have gone. I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I am proved holy through you before their eyes.
It is for the sake of His glory that He works among us. Our salvation is a tool through which God will glorify Himself, and this doesn't connote that He loves us any less. It is just that He must glorify Himself for He is worthy. To make all of reality revolve on anything else other than Him would be unfitting. God is God and He deserves to be in the center of every story, receiving the glory. Speaking into this reality, Stott claims, “The message of biblical Christianity is not ‘God loves me, period.’ The message of biblical Christianity is ‘God loves me so that I might make him- his ways, his salvation, his glory, and his greatness- known among all the nations.’”
It’s got to be about Him. Life can’t be about my dreams, my career, my future family, or my ministry. All of life must be about Him and His glory, and we must have lives that declare this reality to the farthest corners of the earth. This is what we are called to do, and also the acting in it brings us the most joy possible. We are fulfilled when we live for Him, because that is what He designed us to do. Its like we are screwdrivers and our whole lives we've been trying to hammer in nails. I'm sure we can manage to get some stuff done, but imagine the satisfaction in living they way we were designed to function. We were not made for the American dream, but for the Kingdom of God and for the spreading of His great and exciting glory.
But I Don’t Want To
All of these thoughts have led me to ask the question: What if God doesn’t want me to go home and start my life? What if instead He wants me to go out into the world and declare His goodness? Missions. Evangelism. These are words that seem hard, that seem like they would take more faith and effort than I am currently able to muster. And at the risk of seeming like a bad Christian… I don’t want to. But what if I want you to? I feel like God asks.
On one hand it makes sense. I’m young. I’m single. I have no debt. I have no responsibilities or commitments. I’ve studied a little of culture. I'm able.
But on the other hand: I’m tired. I don’t care enough. I’m weak in my faith, nowhere near where I’d want to be. I’m not “called.” Plus, if this counts for anything, I don’t want to.
I want to be willing though. And this is definitely something for which I’ll be praying (please pray as well!). Maybe I just need some time to rest before I go back out, but this life isn't mine right? It's His. And a soldier during the time of war doesn't always get to take leave whenever he wants. Instead, sometimes He must deny his desires and do what He is able for the sake of that for which he is fighting. This isn't all drab either. There is beauty, life, and joy awaiting those who are obedient. Its all kind of exciting actually. At the same time, I would want to act not out of perceived duty, but out of obedience.
May I live for Jesus! I pray He keeps messing with my heart. And regardless of what the next step turns out to be, I want to find joy in the willingness to obey, and not just in the big things, but in the small things of today as well.