myMISSION

Just Being Present

During my freshman year, I went on a missions trip with my church over spring break to Haiti. As I prepared, my team leader, Matt, called me to discuss the logistics and clarify any of my questions. I remember immediately asking, “What does the schedule during the trip look like?” Matt casually replied that we didn’t have a schedule because our main job was to be with the children at the orphanage.

No schedule, no to-do lists, just being.

Uh, excuse me? I signed up for a missions trip. In my mind, this should involve a lot of doing. I was ready to be the hands and feet of Jesus and do some serious serving in Haiti. I didn’t understand how being present with the children equated to the missions part of a missions trip. I wanted to be doing. And just being present did not feel like missions to me.

A few weeks later, my team finally arrived in Haiti. As I surveyed my surroundings at the orphanage, my first impulse was to look around and see what I could do. I saw so many needs and things that could be done. But then I remembered—be intentionally present.

Enter Another’s Story

Being a leader isn’t easy. But then again, being a follower isn’t always easy either. Maybe “easy” isn’t what we should be going for.

I work at WMU and it’s a huge blessing. My team recently had the opportunity to visit a ministry site where I made a new friend. God gave us a moment together on a bench outside. “Easy” wasn’t in her vocabulary, if you know what I mean. What she shared was more like a journey. She is trusting God in new ways and taking one step at a time. I look forward to going back and seeing her again. But what if I had missed the opportunity to make a new friend, to enter into another’s story?

It isn’t easy to slow down, to listen, to act, to love, and to find the time. As leaders, we sometimes feel the pressure to be a few steps ahead, setting the pace, being responsible. What if we could learn to be more intentional in our presence with people? What would it look like to lead others to do the same?

Called

Last month I broached the topic of my calling. This is one of those topics that remains popular in the Christian world.

But what happens when you have no clue what your “calling” is? As I mentioned last month, we as Christians are all called to share the love of God with all people, but what about you specifically? How will that calling take shape in your life, especially as a mom?

I was recently at our Arkansas WMU Annual Meeting and heard a missionary say, “God gave you the talents and hobbies that you have so that He could use them to share His love.” That’s something I think I sort of knew in the back of my mind but never really took to heart. Are you a baker? Do you absolutely love fitness? What about reading? How can you use those fun things about yourself to glorify God? (Can somebody say book club?!)

One thing we know about Jesus is that whatever He was doing, He knew what His calling, or mission, was. He even told His own mother as a preteen, “I must be about my Father’s business.” (That’s not exactly what I was telling my parents at that age, but He has always been pretty special.) He didn’t make a move without God’s guidance.

Identity and Purpose

Jesus was aware of who He was. He knew why He had to humble Himself and take on the likeness of man. He was obedient to the point of death and died on a cross for our sins fulfilling the requirement of the law. And because of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave, we have hope of life eternal with Him.

Just as Jesus knew who He was and what His purpose was here, those of us who have believed in Jesus by God’s grace can also know who we are and what our purpose is here. When we read the Bible, it is easy to see that our purpose is to bring God glory. The difficulty comes in knowing how to use our gifts and skills to bring Him glory.

God has made us each with distinct interests and gifts, and we can look at those and begin to see what the Lord has in mind for us.

Identity Crisis

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6–7).

During the summer of 2014, I walked the streets of Chiang Mai, Thailand, with a campus ministry. As a very recent college graduate, I was worried about the next phase of a new post-graduate life. What was I doing in the middle of Thailand? Where would I be after this summer?

One of the challenges I faced was asking complete strangers if they knew the name of Jesus. I saw the statistics. I knew Thailand was considered unreached. But surely someone on the street would recognize His name!

Not one soul I asked knew about Jesus. Surprised by the anger welling inside me, I escaped to a coffee shop to pray. Why did I know Him, but they did not?

Upon my return to the United States, I delayed my entrance to graduate school. I felt confused and guilty. I felt selfish for pursuing a goal that didn’t immediately put me back on the missions field.

Mission: Involvement

Get involved.

This was my mission going into my freshman year. I can remember everyone telling me the college experience is what you make it, so I was determined to give it everything I had by getting involved in anything I could. I just knew that “involvement” was the key to having a successful college career.

So when the very first week of college arrived, I hit the ground running with my mission. I registered for a full load of classes, signed up for student government, pledged a sorority, joined a small group, volunteered, and planned on attending multiple campus ministry services throughout the week. My schedule was packed, and I was pumped for the amazing college life I was about to experience through all of my involvement. Mission accomplished.

Or so I thought.

Although my schedule left very little time to be alone, I felt incredibly lonely. The positions I held were draining and I wasn’t passionate about any of them. Despite the multiple Bible studies and worship services throughout the week, I felt spiritually parched and useless to God. Somehow, my mission failed.

Who Am I?

Daughter, sister, wife, mom, friend?

Student, teacher, medical professional, sales representative?

Missionary, church staff, volunteer, leader, advocate?

We constantly need to ask ourselves, Is who I am defined by my group of friends or family? Is it defined by my status, job, or leadership position?

The Christian answer is simple: be defined by who we are in Christ. Our identity is in Him—saved, adopted, and loved forever. But is it that simple? What gets in our way?

Temptation, as in the Garden of Eden and with Jesus in the wilderness, comes at us with words that attempt to repaint reality and cast doubt on the truth we know.

In the Garden of Eden, God made man in His own image and His likeness. It was good, and everything was whole. There was freedom, choice, meaningful work, togetherness, and the absence of shame.

myMISSION, myCALLING

Exactly three years ago, I was on my first myMISSION trip. We went to Atlanta, and our whole weekend was dedicated to reaching refugees and victims of human trafficking. We’re still getting to know each other, but you can just know that this is my heartbeat.

We went around rough areas of Atlanta, handing out roses to prostitutes—women who needed to know that they were loved and valued. This is something to which I’ve dedicated my life.

Isaiah 61:1b reads, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Isaiah’s description of his calling rings so true for me. I was so excited to be in this group, fulfilling this calling, but I knew I needed to be keenly aware of the vastly different needs of the women I would meet. This reminds me of Paul’s calling in 1 Corinthians 9:22b: “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Paul knew that he was called to preach the gospel to all people, but that took different shapes as God brought him to different places.

All We Need

Immediately after Jesus fed the five thousand, He dismissed the crowd, gathered His disciples, and found a solitary place to pray. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus prayed alone—and often. As the Son of God, He communed faithfully and intimately with His Father. He left His devoted disciples and the masses of broken people for prayer.

If Jesus, Who is God, humbled Himself and prayed, I should probably do the same.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a “works” kind of girl. I like being busy. I could write a book (a very long book) about the amount of times I’ve neglected rest and prayer in order to spend more time working, serving, or trying to meet others’ needs.

You see, I like to believe that God needs me. I tend to enter a cycle that starts with me saying something like, “I’m too important for a break!”

Then after a week or two, I burn out. I stop caring about all my jobs and roles. What I really want—and so desperately need—is someone else to carry the load. Deep down I know it’s Him, our good Father, Who can replenish my soul . . . but I’m too afraid to talk to Him. What if He’ll be angry with me? I failed again.

Why Guard Our Time?

We are all busy in one way or another. Some of us may have children. We have things like jobs that take over our lives or hobbies we undertake to keep us busy, but none of these things should be the most crucial aspect in a believer’s life. The most significant characteristic of the believers’ life should be his or her time with God.

Nothing you do will be more important than being with God.

I recognize that all-or-nothing statements do not tend to go over well with us, and usually we tend to find loopholes, concessions, or reasons why those statements do not apply to us. But believer, to find an exception to this statement would be a great folly, because we know our Father by reading His Word, and we understand what His will is through His Word.

When we read the Bible, God is sanctifying us in His truth (John 17:17). He sanctifies us because He is sending us out into the world. For some, the world may be overseas. For some, it may be their job. For others, it may be their family. And He sends us out into the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ so that all who believe in Him will have life (John 20:31).

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