At one of the many breakout sessions at the Urbana Student Missions Conference in 2012, we were instructed to write a letter/prayer to God for ourselves to open/read a few months after Urbana. A donor offered to stuff and mail all the letters a few months later. The idea of the letter was to set some goals at Urbana (hopefully “mission-minded” goals) and then use that letter as a ‘checkup’ to see how we were doing a few months later. Here is what I feverishly wrote in the short amount of time I had (pardon the flow!):
My ultimate goal is to live a life glorifying You by what I do and where I go. I don’t know that it’s to be a “missionary” – in fact, I don’t feel that calling at all. But what I do feel is to be more involved in the local church – bringing more believers into the fold and encouraging others who may have a call to the mission field. I would, however, like to have more knowledge of the world – and to that end I’d like to get out of my bubble. 1st step = passport.. so if there is an opportunity, short-term, I can go. I want to make awareness at LRPCA to Missions – more content on the website – info in the bulletins – and in the narthex. Prayer. I would like to go on a short trip (2 weeks) and serve and learn. I want to be a part of the planning. There are a lot of “I”s here – but I want to keep perspective on You – and follow Your will. I want to [keep] building faith and knowledge – continue writing/blog posts, maybe even submit it to Relevant. Make me a better Christian man than I am now – and spread that to others – friends – co-workers – neighbors
That letter finally arrived in my mailbox yesterday… 13 months after I wrote it.
Why is that significant? Because on this same day, along with my letter, I received our group support letter for the summer missions trip to Mexico that I’m taking with my church. #GodsTiming right?! While that may just be a fun coincidence, it’s also hard to not see that as an affirmation of God’s faithfulness to prayer.
But that fun coincidence couldn’t have come at a better time.. A time when I feel like I’m abundantly overflowing in my goal of ‘doing something’ but slipping in the super close and passionate relationship with God that had been built over the past year. It was an instant flash back and reminder of what He has done and what He has promised to do. It’s a reminder that the end goal wasn’t, and isn’t just about works or business or involvement. Serving and doing is a critical piece to faith, but ultimately, my prayer and mission was, by the unmerited grace of God, to become more open-minded, glorify God, let God make me a better Christian man, and spread the Gospel. The business of this season is sometimes a distraction that needs to be kept in check and balanced with my deeply personal relationship with Jesus.
I’m reminded that among Jesus’ thriving, yet short, mission, He encouraged quietness and rest:
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. -Mark 6:31-32
…and often retreated the the Mount of Olives:
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. -Luke 22:39-44
So while I’m actively involved in a handful of current opportunities for service and projects, I am also acutely aware of the necessity of rest in this season and the primary importance of a growing, deep, authentic, loving relationship with Jesus.
May we not lose sight of why we do what we do – even, and especially, in the church, for the church, and with the church. It’s not about committees, boards, groups, projects, goals, budgets, buildings, and numbers. It’s all about Jesus… on a cross… saving sinners… And spreading that message of hope to the ends of the world.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
P.S. – If you’re interested in supporting my trip to Mexico, you can find out more details on the website I put together for our team.