Tuesday, March 20, 2012

not the short end of the stick


One of the underlying fears restraining Christians from abandoning ourselves to doing what God asks is the fear that, if we say yes to His call, we'll miss out in some way; we'll be shortchanged as God strips away the best things in life.

"God is not a deceiver, that He should offer to support us,
and then, when we lean upon Him, should slip away from us."
- Augustine

I’d like to suggest that obeying God's call, even when it means huge life changes, does NOT leave Christians with the short end of the stick. Three years ago we stepped off the beaten track, as Mark left a good job with a great company, leaving it behind for the sake of the call.  Yes, there are things about our home culture, and things about our former lifestyle that we miss, but after living almost three years in this new position where God has led us, our family can attest to having found unquestionable gain.


What exactly have we gained?
* a breath-taking front-row display of God's unfailing faithfulness.
* a whole new perspective on how He works through the body of believers to provide for His work.
* an amazingly valuable adventure full of unique experiences shared as a family that has bonded us together as nothing else could have done.
* a much broader world-view; our children number their friends from many continents, and they have grown to appreciate so much about our host culture.
*  a vibrant community of fellow-workers who, though imperfect like us, share a common goal and have shown unparalleled inclusiveness.
* the daily delight of feasting on sweet red papaya and tree-ripened pineapples.
* lessons in slowing down and valuing relationships from the lovely example of our Filipino host culture
* a status of honor in this country.
* scenic, warm tropical beaches close enough for a restful day-trip.
* an experience of the universality of the Church as we worship together with believers of other languages.
* increasing compassion and respect for the financially poor around us.
* opportunities to grow in ways we never expected. 


"The meaning of earthly existence lies,
not as we have grown used to thinking,
in prospering,
but in the development of the soul."
-Alexander Solzhenitsyn


Would we trade all of this to be back in the U.S. prospering with a consistent paycheck
instead of depending daily on God's provision,
driving an unremarkable minivan instead of riding in colorful jeepneys,
shopping at Target (okay, I admit… I miss Target!)
instead of earning friends among the poor children of the neighborhood?  

Will I ever be fooled again into thinking
that some more material stuff could satisfy?

Maybe.

But our family has lived next-door to how the rest of the world lives. We've seen contentment and joy on faces of the poor. We've shared lunch with blind brothers and sisters, sat honored in National Geographic-like tribal ceremonies, worked and laughed with dirty kids who can’t afford to go to school. We've prayed with friends over illness and death and financial stress and loneliness and fear. We've held babies with lice-laced hair and rotting teeth, sung carols with beggar women, shared water with the thirsty and shoes with the shoeless, swept out flood waters, bandaged bleeding feet.
And it's changed us.
God has changed us.

And I haven't even begun to describe the ministry God called us here to do. Though I wish I could, in this context we just are not able to share about our work.  But in that too we’ve gained immeasurably!

Is all of this worth what we gave up?

WITHOUT A DOUBT.

Life is short. Eternity is long.
So eternal investments just make good logical sense.

As you answer God's call on your life,
you won’t be left 
with the short end of the stick.


*edited from archives

10 comments:

Carmen said...

I needed this today...I will email for a better explanation. Thank you.

the Kelleys said...

Thanks for a great reminder of the benefits of hearing and answering HIS call, wherever that may take us!

OliveTree said...

Not being left with the "short end of the stick" encourages me as I look back on the last two years. We left behind a comfortable ministry we'd had on the field for 8 years, and stepped out of the boat to embark on a new, more challenging one. God is always faithful!

us5 said...

thanks, Carmen! i got your email, and i'll reply asap!

us5 said...

thanks for stopping by! :) the reminder is mostly for me...to increase my thankfulness!

us5 said...

hi OliveTree! hoping you'll see many evidences of His goodness while you're in your home country. :)

Carl G. said...

Love the Solzhenitsyn quote and, of course, the ways you are finding that God is lovingly shaping your lives and enlarging your hearts!

Elysa said...

I love this, Barbara. May I re-post it on my blog?

us5 said...

yes of course, friend! :)

Elysa said...

Working on re-posting it right now. Thanks, sweet friend!