Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Forties Top 40, #22

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#22:  A season of sending.

In my twenties and thirties, I was an adventurer of sorts.  In my senior year of college, I spent my January term with a bunch of my friends in Haiti.  There, I was bit by a bug.  It wasn't a physical bug, but it created a whole new reality inside of me.  It was a vision of a world that reached so far beyond anything I had ever known, and yet wasn't all that far from home.  The realization that I would never be the same.

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That year I graduated and began my teaching career.  Two years later that career led me to the Philippines for two years, and a few years after that, to post-Soviet Central Asia for two more years.  My passport was filled with stamps so that I needed extra pages.  And then?  It expired.  In 1996.

Sometimes those years overseas feel like a dream.  But they were exactly the dream God had for me.  I can't describe or even know the impact of my living overseas, but I can tell you this:  Our family has encountered countless families and individuals involved in cross-cultural ministry, and when they cross our paths, whether briefly, or for a more extended time, they sense that they are home.  This is our calling.  We are senders.

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We know people who are bringing the Good News to people  in every corner of the world.  Many I know because of my own time overseas.  Some we have met through our church.  One is my brother and his family.  And some God has just plopped on our doorstep as though out of thin air.  

You cannot quantify a ministry of sending.  It's a way of being, not something you volunteer at or do for a certain number of hours per week. You just do it as it comes, in the midst of whatever else you do.   It's not ALL intangible.  We pray for our friends.  We support a few of them financially.  We send newsletters.  We host them in our guest room.  We take what remains in their refrigerator when they leave and use it until it is gone.  We help them find places to live, cars and phones to use while they are here.  We send them off, and willingly say goodbye.  But most of all?  We encourage them.  We ask them questions that let them know we "get" what they are doing.  And I do get it, because I have been there.  We love the people they love, the people for whom they are pouring out their lives.  The people Christ was already loving as he poured out his own life.

This ministry of sending is very quiet, and that is truly a blessing.  Behind the scenes is a blissful place for me.  But it can be tempting to think that quiet equals insignificant.  It can feel as though in some way I am sidelined. Because here I am in the suburbs, living the American dream.  With my expired passport.  

Each of the times God called me overseas, the call was unmistakable.  It wasn't as though it was one of many options.  There may have BEEN other options, but there was no way I could have pursued them.  And then almost suddenly, the call was to an apparently "typical" life.  Transformed by a vision that makes me anything but typical.  It is a blessed calling, one I wouldn't trade for anything, but it isn't necessarily easy.  And it is no small thing.

It has indelibly, beautifully marked my forties, this season of sending.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:12-13

3 comments:

Life with Kaishon said...

I am thankful you could go : )
What a blessing!

Skeller said...

what a beautiful, thoughtful post. I love that you trust the path God has sent you down and embrace it.

sparkle100-havealook.blogspot.com said...

What a blessing you can go and it is not you before God but God leading you . Some people go before God and that is not scriptural . Right..

I know what it is to be in need and I know what Gods desires us is plenty.Right now we are waiting n the Lord to give us a car. Not him persay. Our car broke down and we cannot repair it way too much. So have been without a car for 8 months. Neighbors take us shopping . We just want not to buy a car with out waiting on the Lord to give us the peace. When we do see one. As it is bad times more so 2012. For all.