Monday, August 20, 2007

Mission Joy

One of the things i thought a lot about in Bulgaria was the cost of being a full time missionary. This really hit me one day when i was praying, and i realised how for the first time in my life i was properly homesick, to the extent that the deepest longing in my heart was to be sitting at home with my family, reading the paper and shooting the breeze.

This was not good. Not good at all, and mercifully the Lord delivered me from it very quickly. But that was the first time i realised the scope of what missionaries are called to give up. Big things, like most of my close human relationships, the vast amount of social and political security you get from living in the west, seeing my little sister grow up, being with my parents when they get old, through to the little things, like the view over the chilterns from my parents back garden, food that i enjoy, waking up with Moyles and getting home with Mills...everything really. At the time i was reading a biography of Hudson Taylor, a man who went through so much for the Gospel that it really is impossible to summarize, and who was able to say at the end of it all 'i never made a sacrifice'. There, surely is the essence of missionary joy. Thats what i longed and continue to long for in my heart.

And i'm glad Jesus knew that, and i'm glad that, as ever, He has the answer. He says, in Mark 10:29 that no one who has left anything will fail to recieve it back...but those who give up for the Gospel will not simply get back what they gave up, they will get back one hundrededfold what they gave away. Isn't that remarkable? Anything and everything we give up we will receive back abundantly, with persecutions, which are there to make us Godly, in this life and etenal life in the age to come.

If this isn't a Christian hedonist call to missions i don't know what is. Yes, there are sacrifices, but as ever in the Christian life, you sacrifice the lesser joy for the greater. Yes there's pain, but what joy to come in eternal life. Surely this is a call to missions that our satisfaction hungry hearts can not ignore. Surely the call is to fling away what we don't need but cling to in this life, for the sake of the glory of God now and forever, and our joy forever. That's whats being promised here...everything you give up, you will get back. Jesus is not made famous by people who hold things more valuable than Him, and lament the loss of those things for Him. He is made famous by a people who have their eyes fixed firmly on the Heavenly city and are willing to do anything to secure thier eternal, exceeding joy there...

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