A big part of being a missionary is learning to disconnect and pull ourselves away all kinds of urgent and pressing stuff so we can go and spend our time in places that don’t seem very promising or productive.
Of course, this goes against every grain of our natural beings… it can seem as crazy as skipping a super-important exam you studied months for and just rolling around in the grass, as nuts as playing hopscotch with the neighborhood kids while your house is burning down, or as foolish as quitting a great job with a very good salary where you get to use all your gifts and creativity, make a positive difference in your community and world, only to go to clean toilets for minimum wage. It just ain’t what we were raised to do!
But when your mind is transformed and renewed, and you start looking at the world with Jesus’ eyes and priorities. Important becomes unimportant, and vice versa.
When swarms of people were looking for Jesus, he was off praying by himself somewhere. “The nerve!!” Then when they finally got a hold of him, he said “Let’s go somewhere else–to the nearby villages–so I can preach there also.” (Mark 1:28) “But things were going so well!! Ministry was just getting started!!” “Is this guy nuts?!”
When we know our Father like Jesus did, we start to look at the world with those same crazy, free eyes.
When you taste his goodness and realize that it’s better than anything else, his voice and his desires inside of you speak louder than all the 100s of pharisaic teachers. His passions grip you firmer than the respect and awe of the crowds.
And so as follower of Christ can pull back from all kinds of urgent, pressing, exciting, and satisfying stuff and do “nothing” but get on his knees in prayer – just like Jesus so often did.
A carrier of the gospel can walk away from a place full of family, friends, ministry opportunities, and exciting stuff, and move into a country where there’s nothing but people who need to hear that Jesus died and rose again.
A witness for Christ will have to pull themselves away from opportunities to gather the praise and esteem of people, and turn to God for some sort of miraculous satisfaction. They’ll have to turn away from an opportunity for a steady paycheck, and believe that God can supply their every need.
But to do this, you need a heart that’s dead to the typical quest for success and happiness, and free to turn away from everything and just fall into the harvest fields.
You need the freedom…
…to walk away from a big flock of sheep to make one precious disciple in a dark place
…to walk away from a promising and respectful career and dive into a life of obscurity
…to know that you can quit your job and trust God to provide financially for you and your family
…to walk away from a life of doing stuff that you’re good at and to go and waste years fumbling around as a disabled language learner
…to leave everything that gives you life and satisfaction and run to be with Jesus in a dark place
When I faced the decision to move away from my home country and get to the least reached, I realized how difficult it was to let go of all my other opportunities and plans. After all, my whole life I had grown up thinking I had to work to establish my life and future career in my home country… and could I just throw all of that away? What would happen to me?
“Maybe if I stayed 2 more years at home,” I thought, “I could get that civil engineering degree, and then I would have some profession and skill to fall back on.” I was also at the beginnings of a dream music career with my really good friend. We had just finished a recording project, were playing shows, and things were really blossoming. To get out to the field, I had to litereally crush his dreams and mine. And then there were all the other great things that could be done at church at home… It was so hard to pull myself away from this stuff and jump out into some experiment in the great unknown.
But when you meet Jesus and feel his love and direction, you somehow gain the confidence and ability to let go of everything! And of course after those first steps of away from your life and career and into the harvest field, you have to keep interacting with him and knowing him to continually walk in that confidence and freedom.
Then you’ll be able to walk away from a computer screen full of pressing news feeds, youtube videos, and endless tweets, get out of the house and see God heal and save somebody. Then you can have the freedom from whatever else is taking up your time and filling up your mind and happily wander into a park full of friendly people chattering in some strange language (which you’re trying to learn) and crash picnics, enjoy their food, and then get invited to stay in their house – with the good news bubbling in conversation of course!
What is it that allows us to walk away from all the pressing things in life - whether they be careers, worries, or whatever - and into his good works?
It’s the quiet confidence that allowed Jesus to sleep in the boat in the middle of a storm. It’s the love that drove Martha to forget about all the housework that had to be done and just enjoy sitting at Jesus’ feet. It’s the freedom you live in as you know your Father.
You can walk away from whatever you’re clinging to and is holding you in one spot, because your life, freedom, satisfaction, and portion is HIM.
If Jesus is your everything, and he promised to be with you always, then why not go and live in some dry, desperate place at the ends of the earth?
Jesus had an uncanny ability to walk away from crowds and pressing needs, and just get alone with the father.
He had also had a faith and a drive that allowed him to walk away from a thriving ministry to another village who might not even know who he was.
So what do you need to be a missionary, to carry the good news to the darkest places in the world? The freedom of the Spirit of the Lord. The freedom of the sons and daughters of God. And here’s the good news. It’s free for whoever wants it. It’s freely given to people from any country, educational or economic status. Jesus bought it for us with his own blood. Take it and run.