Monday, June 17, 2013

What You'll Learn in Asia About Missions

There are over 7 billion people in the world. 1.344 billion in China alone. That's over one thousand million people populating one country, the vast majority living in the eastern half. So what do you learn after living as a foreigner for 4 months in Chinaand another month in Thailandaltogether five months in Asia? 

This life is not your story.

Francis Chan said it well: you are an extra in Somebody else's movie. You're that face in the middle of the crowd, slightly to the left, in that two-second scene half way through. That's you.

When the realization hits you, it's hard to figure out what matters. It’s hard to continue striving after your goals and expecting great things from yourself.

You’ll realize it’s the little things that get to you. It’s hearing another language, or multiple languages, being spoken all around you and suddenly feeling so small because you had forgotten that the majority of the world doesn’t understand you, and you don't understand them. You’ll come face to face with hundreds of people every day. The faces will all begin to look the same to you. You start being unable to tell the difference between one person and the next. Then, not only do you feel small, you feel alone.

“Where am I? What am I doing here?” You ask the questions in a general manner, but your uncertainty goes deeper. 

It’s the little things that get to you. It’s not knowing how to interact. It’s constantly questioning yourself. You're always questioning--the insecurity never stops but just clings to you like a scared little kid. You are a kid, you realize. Something about this place breaks you down. 

You'll learn that if you want to go into missions, that's great, you could go. But you cannot, under any circumstances, no matter how great the opportunity, go to prove to yourself that you're devoted enough, or that you're worthy of His love, or that becoming a missionary reflects a more meaningful, sacrificial life. 

Doing international missions to impress God is like scraping your knees a couple of hours before seeing the president. You put bandages on, and when you go to meet him, you take them off and say, "Look, Mr. President of the United States, I have these bandages for you, that's my blood." 

You would never do that. That's disgusting.  

God doesn't want your used bandaids. God wants you. He doesn't have a measuring stick where deeds are assessed based on merit. That's what you do. God doesn't care if you rescue the entire population of China from poverty. To Him, that's just another dirty bandaid. 

If in those five months you start to understand your smallness, the surface of His infinite existence also begins to dawn on you. Perhaps you weren't able to glimpse the latter without first feeling the former so thoroughly. 

If you want to make a difference in the world, identify yourself with God until you don't have to look up in the sky anymore to a strange, abstract ideato the impossible concept of the Divine. He's not "up there" somewhere like the aliens. He's within and every ordinary minute of your life. 

You don't know much about Jesus before he was 30, but you do know He was no less Christ in those years. You are called to be like Christ; Christ in all 33 years of His life. He was faithful in the ordinary. 

So don't hold out on someday. Don't plan on going out and becoming a great missionary...someday. When you find joy in what you're doing now, in the person He is manifesting Himself in nowthis very ordinary momenteternity begins. When eternity begins, God is known, His purpose is heard, and the world shakes.

Eternity begins in the mundane things, in washing dishes, in cleaning bedrooms, in saying "I love you" and really meaning it; in watching the rain fall down the windowpane and thinking, Wow, that's amazing.  

"also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me."  —Jesus (John 17:20-23) 

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