“Send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. Sever any tie, but the ties that bind me to your service and to your heart.”
“The missionary heart: Care more than some think is wise. Risk more than some think is safe. Dream more than some think is practical. Expect more than some think is possible. I was called not to comfort or success but to obedience….There is no joy outside of knowing Jesus and serving him.”
—Karen Watson, martyr, March 15, 2004
I was asked to be a guest writer on sacrificial living. I am a missionary, which means I live overseas in a country where people need to learn about Jesus. I work in a place where very few people have ever heard the truth that Jesus loves them and has made a way for salvation. It is a place that some would think is dangerous. Yet, I have great stories that come from living every moment to the fullest. Why do I do all this?
When I was 17, a friend introduced me to my very best friend. Jesus! I want everyone to have a chance to meet Him. Jesus is so gracious that He gives us a chance to be a part of His big plan and uses us to share His story around the world. I do not often think of the things that I am required to give up. I love my life, my coworkers, and the amazing people I get to meet.
However, every time I start to get settled in one country, God tends to move me somewhere else. The people I love and I am closest with live all over the world. I no longer fit into the country that I was born in. So, I guess I have given up some things. The biggest is relationships with friends and family. One friend observed me talking on the phone to a missionary teammate and said: “We just do not get it, do we?” It felt so good for someone to voice something I had been feeling. It is not that I cannot connect with family and friends, but it is a very different relationship than it used to be. I treasure every minute I can spend with my friends around the world.
I have given up other things as well. I have released the idea of the “American Dream.” It is unlikely I will have a house in the States, unless big things change. Some people tend to think that I have given up the idea of getting married. This is definitely not true! However, I am not going to wait in the States to get married when I know that God has called me to tell people about Jesus who will go to hell if I do not obey God’s calling to go. Besides, we know that God is bigger than we can ever imagine, and He is in charge of our lives. If He wants me to marry, if that is part of the plan for my life, then it will happen wherever I am. I have also given up the idea of a consistent paycheck in the normal sense. I “get paid” by amazing friends and churches that believe in me. In some ways, this is better. I have the privilege of meeting new people and seeing the small ways that God blesses me and confirms my calling with every dollar that comes in.
Lately, I even feel God is asking me to give up the specific country that I desire to return to. I don’t feel that God simply wants to take it away from me; instead He wants to teach me to be more flexible once again. I see a lot of similarities to the life that Paul lived in the book of Acts. With the countries I want to live in, it is not a question of if, but when, I will be forced to leave. So now I do not even have a country that I know I will live in outside the States. I do not think God is saying I will never go back to the country that I love dearly. He asks, “Are you willing to go where I want you to go even if you are not comfortable?” Well, if you knew some of the places that I want to go, you may wonder if it is possible for me to be uncomfortable. However, I am still human and want to know where I am headed and what I will be doing. But when I look to the Bible: How many times did Paul have to leave a city and the people that he loved? What caused him to leave some of those places? Where do I draw the line in my life of when to hang on and when to let go? What would be the benefit to others and myself if I let those things go? Am I allowing fear or faith to guide my decisions?
Although some would call my life sacrificial, I am amazed at the return God gives. I have the privilege of trusting God for every provision in my day. We all can do this, no matter where we live. Sometimes we just get too used to expecting what will happen that we forget that God gives us everything we have. Matthew 6:26-27 says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
I admit that I am by no means perfect. I want the newest gadgets and technology. Luckily I know that what God wants for my life is better than any thing I might want or that culture tells me I want. When I am in Africa, I want more jewelry and clothes (that is what is important there). When I am in the States, I want the latest Iphone or Ipad to enjoy. We know, though, that God gives us everything that we desire in the timing that He has already planned for our lives. When I am in the will of God, I am in the safest place in the world. I do not want to be anywhere that I will not be in the will of God. We often have to give things up for God, but the return is so much more that we look back at those small things that we gave up and realize they were not important at all.
Perhaps you are thinking, “It is great that she is going to foreign lands to share with people about Jesus. How does that affect me?” Do you have a neighbor? Have you ever had someone stop you when you are in a hurry and thought, “Man, I just wanted to get my things done?” Ever have a feeling like you really should be sharing with this person or even just saying hi and meaning it? Where can you go to talk to people and share? John Piper says, “Go, send, or disobey.” We can all go. In fact, I heard a sermon recently that pointed that the Bible says nearly 200 times to go, and the only times it says to stay is when you are preparing to go. Where can you go today?
Live Dead Challenge from the Live Dead Journal: One way that you can live a sacrificial life today is to lift others up. Try to find three people that make you feel uncomfortable or demean you, and first of all pray about how you can sincerely affirm them. Then take a step to give them that affirmation by something you say or do. Additionally, find one person who may be doing better than you—someone who has excelled to a point where you feel threatened or maybe even a little envious. Again, take a step to affirm that person with a sincere heart. Begin removing all competitive language from your vocabulary. I think you will find that a chiseling process will begin to take place.
“It will not be easy. It will take blood and boldness, sweat and suffering, tears and tenacity. Some will be imprisoned, some will die, some will spend a lifetime of labor with little credit and little reward. All will have to live dead in one manner or another.” Selection from Live Dead the journey.