This week, in our association we are holding an On Mission Celebration. What this means is that each participating church hears from 5 missionaries during a 4 day period. In our case we get two IMB missionaries, two NAMB missionaries, and one BSCNC missionary. Our church is four services in, and I am hearing some common themes from each of the missionaries. More than anything else, the theme we hear from all of the missionaries is, “God called and I had to obey.” In most cases that meant not knowing exactly what God had in store for them. They could only say yes and then wait until they got clear direction. In every case that meant having their families on board. It is one thing to say that God has called me to do this or that, but another to say that I will uproot my wife and children from where we are and go, whether it is to Pittsburgh or to Lucknow India.
I admire all these people for their efforts. I admire especially those who go to foreign lands and do these things. They have been honest with us and told us stories about how they have opportunities that people in their countries don’t have, and they have to be careful who they trust, or that they really don’t have much guidance once they get on the field.
What this post is really about is saying yes to Jesus. My pastor uses this phrase all the time to refer to salvation, but I mean beyond salvation. We need to say yes to whatever God may call us to do. Most of us in our American churches have never had to suffer for Christ. At least not more than in a slight way when we are ridiculed for or belief or painted as morons for believing in Christ. Because we have never had to suffer, we limit the ways we are willing to be used by God.
We say, "I’ll help in VBS, but only in the kitchen."
We say, "I’ll give to help send the youth to camp, but no way I’ll be a chaperone."
We say, "I'm not going to the nursing home, old people smell funny."
We say, "I’ll go to church on Sunday morning and even Wednesday, but how dare anyone expect me to go on visitation."
We say, "I’ll go to church regularly, but I’m not going to consider sitting anywhere other than my seat."
We say, "I can't be in choir, they expect me to be at practice regularly"
We say, "Witness to my neighbor? Isn’t that my pastor’s job?"
We say, "I’ll do construction work on a mission trip but I’m not going to do surveys."
We say, "I’ll bring my Bible to church and read it daily, but I’m not memorizing scripture; that takes work."
All these are ways that I have seen people limit God. Not that God is actually limited in any way but they don’t allow Him to be used in their lives in these ways.
The thing that separates missionaries from other Christians is not some super-spirituality or extra dose of faith. (Only a little is enough to move mountains.) What they have is the “Yes.” We sing Yes, Lord, Yes but we don’t mean it. I have sung Where He Leads Me I Will Follow hundreds of times, but I don’t remember the “I won’t follow to the Nursery” verse.
In case I have not been clear to this point I'll say it this way. We are on shaky ground when we limit what we will allow God to do through or with us. As I pray for revival for our church and our nation I realize that this is where revival breaks down. When Christians love God right up to the point that service is not comfortable, I am afraid God will bless us only to that point.
Please make this your prayer today...God I will go anywhere,* Africa to Alaska, and do anything, as long as I know it is your will.
*This includes the nursery and the nursing home