The Perspective of Returning Home

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I recently looked back at some of my early blog posts, dating back a little over thirteen years ago. I was in the middle of preparing to go to the mission field and, as I read, I was reminded of the many ways that the Lord prepared the way for me. I was single, young, determined, adventurous, and possessed a heart full of faith to follow the Lord where He was calling me. Now, all these years later, I am married with two small children, not as young as I used to be, just as determined, more cautious than adventurous, but still with a heart ready to follow Jesus as He prompts me through His Spirit.

We are heading back “home” to Canada this coming August and I am unsure whether to call it home or not. My mom passed away last year and my dad twenty years before that. My sister and her family live two hours away from where we’ll plant ourselves, and many of my close friends now live scattered across Canada.

Someone asked me recently about what was waiting for us in Canada, assuming we had jobs lined up and a place to live. “Oh,” they replied when my response was negative towards both of those things, “so you’re just waiting on God to see where He’ll lead you?”

The unknowns in my present are just as intimidating as they were when I was anticipating moving to SE Asia. But the difference now is that I have almost thirteen years of experience of walking through unknowns, following the lamp that the Lord’s provided to show the path in front of me, and the regular discipline of reminding myself of what is true.

I know He is El-HaNe’-eman – “faithful God” (Deut. 7:9 ESV). He never changes and, despite circumstances around us being uncertain, He is unwavering in His character.

I know He is Eliezer – “my God is help” (Exodus 18:4 ESV) – and Ebenezer – “stone of help” (1 Samuel 7:12 ESV). I’ve experienced His provisions countless times and often in the most surprising ways. Like Samuel in 1 Samuel 7:12, I have set up various stones – some real, some in my journal, and some through a picture or other creative means – in my life as a way to honour the Lord and remember how He has moved to help me and others around me.

I know He is Immanuel – “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, 8:8, and Matthew 1:23 ESV). This has been the biggest reason why I’ve been able to persevere in serving the Lord. I have never had to tackle any task, assignment, follow-up visit, language and culture lesson, visa trip, immigration question, sickness, home assignment, dangerous road, sermon or annual reunion conference by myself. He has always been with me and will always be with me. Despite Satan’s attempts to convince me otherwise, I was never alone in that village in the wooden house, never forgotten in that mountainous assignment, never left behind when my husband went off to work and I was home alone with our children. His presence has satisfied my soul, calmed my anxieties and empowered my heart.

So, I anticipate returning home with great expectations of the Lord to remain the same. I know He will lead us through new challenges and adventures, He will provide exactly what we need (and sometimes what we may think we want) and when we need it, and He will remind me that He is with us and will continue to be with us through it all.

Home has changed. And I’ve changed too. I don’t know what home even really means anymore except for it to be the place where God invites me to be, too.

If you’re returning home for the summer or for longer, which testimonies of God’s goodness is the Holy Spirit reminding you of so your soul may be strengthened?

Five Minute Friday: Adapt #FMF

One of the first things you may hear when you’re preparing to go to the mission field is to be ready to adapt.  Obviously, when you move to a different country and a different culture and a different language, you will NEED to adapt.  I’m not talking about that.  Yes, that’s important and yes, that will be something to work on but I’m talking about a different adapting.  I’m talking about adapting your expectations.

You’ll be faced with a barrage of situations where what you understood going into the situation will not be how things will turn out.  You’ll need to be flexible and – wait for it – adapt.

It will require you to be humble, take the position of a learner and listener and observer (because how often is communication something done instead of something said) and release your understanding and preconceived ideas.

Adapting in this way will require you to accept a level of ambiguity but it will allow you to receive opportunities to deepen relationships and cultural understanding that will only aid your ministry.

It’s a small thing with the potential for a big impact.

mold and perfect laundry days do co-exist

Discovering mold growing in your house is pretty much the opposite of waking up to find the sun shining so brightly that it couldn’t be anything but a perfect laundry day.

Last night was the mold (again).  And already this morning our washing machine is tumbling, tumbling, tumbling.

If life was less complicated, being a missionary and sharing the Gospel and leading the Tai peoples of S.E. Asia into His glorious kingdom would be a piece of cake.  There would be no mold (if it were up to me).  There would be sunshiny days and cool nights and people would have open hearts to hear the wonderfully good news of Jesus Christ.

But I’ve been realising in new ways lately that as true as the riches and richness of Christ is a part of the Gospel message, so is the truth of the suffering of Christ.  The two go hand in hand.  To preach a Gospel that only tells of good laundry days and no mold wouldn’t be a half-truth; because it’s incomplete, it would be a lie.

Being servants of Christ in this place and telling of the Good News of our Lord and Saviour means that we are responsible to tell the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, as well as the cost of following Him.

“And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”” (Luke 9:23 ESV)

While persecution may look different from place to place, the very real reality of facing rejection from family and community cannot be ignored.  Ostracized, rejected, misunderstood.  Like with any decision, there are consequences for whichever direction you move.  The Tai, like so many other people groups, must choose to accept this risk when they choose to follow the One who created them to be a part of His kingdom – who offers both eternal life, and the opportunity to lose your life for His sake.

So to embracing the life that God has called us to.  To sunshine even when there’s mold.  To life in Christ with ALL that that includes.  To taking up our cross and following Him who makes all of life worthwhile.

day one done

Day one’s done of the training seminar for the interns I work with.  I’m tired and came home to relax a bit before getting prepped for the session tomorrow I’m leading and I can’t get back into work mode now. 

Just thinking about the sessions today and how BIG God is.  And how judgmental and proud and selfish I can be sometimes.  And how we, who believe that Jesus is Lord, are united through our need for Jesus and the cross. 

I’m reminded of my days back in SBS, studying Romans and learning about the Jews and Gentiles in the same church in Rome.  Unity was a problem.

In sin the same, saved the same, sanctified the same so grow in the Spirit the same.

Those Jews and Gentiles – they weren’t so different after all.

Like me and you.