As a child, I secretly thought being a missionary would be the ultimate adventure, the ultimate dream job. What could be better than travel to far away, exotic, unknown places? Meeting new people and experiencing new cultures would be a dream come true. The thought of primitive conditions didn’t deter my thinking at the time. After all, I loved going to Girl Scout Camp every summer, where we slept in tents, cooked over an open fire, had a pump for water, flashlights for light (there was no electricity) and latrines for bathrooms. (unless we were away from the main camp on an excursion, like a canoe trip, in which case we made camp every night at a different site, carried in all our food and supplies with us and made our own latrines in the woods)
At any rate, this secret dream of mine never materialized for me – although it did for my best friend from high school. She and her husband spent many years on the mission field on the continent of Africa and unlike my childhood camp experiences, their challenges were many and the dangers they faced were real, as political climates continually changed from year to year. In the face of daily difficulties, they served faithfully for many years and then continued to serve overseas missions from a stateside position after that. A life of meaning and purpose on the front lines, making a difference in this world. That’s my dream job.
So this morning I find myself wondering – what am I doing in obedience to Jesus’s last words spoken to His disciples, which are –
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18)
Disciplemaking, witnessing, proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel, – this is what Jesus said to His disciples in Acts 1:8 –
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
That’s where I wanted to go, to the ends of the earth. That’s the dream. Reality? I’ve never even lived outside of the state in which I was born. I have not been a foreigner in a foreign land, living in a foreign culture that I do not understand and in which I do not feel at home. Or have I? Turns out, I have been a foreigner in a foreign culture all my life. This has not always been as clear to me as it is now in these present days, but I am beginning to understand that in reality I have been livin’ my dream all these years. I just didn’t know it and appreciate it, along with the call set before me as a foreigner in this place. Paul made this clear in his letter to the Philippians when he said,
“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20-21)
Peter echoed this same sentiment in his letter saying,
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
Peter also cautioned believers to “live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.” (1 Peter 1:17)
No wonder I so often feel like a stranger in a stranger still land. I am a foreigner here, after all.
“For this world is not our (my) permanent home; we are (I am) looking forward to our (my) home yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
If this is not my home, if my citizenship is not here but in heaven, then I am already and have always been, a missionary on foreign soil, wherever I am. The ends of the earth are wherever I am and wherever my brothers and sisters are at present. To me, the end of the earth, is the farthest place from where I live. But to the people who live far from me, I live at the end of the earth. I am already there. My dream has already come true! I am living it! So what should I be doing? Colossians 4:5-6 gives me some guidance –
“Make the most of my chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all my contacts with them.” or another translation says, “make the most of every opportunity.” And there’s more – “Let my conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that I may know how to answer everyone.”
This is a full time endeavor. And Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has more direction for me in how to live my dream of being an end of the earth missionary. I read in Ephesians 5:15-17, these words –
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
I know I am living in a foreign culture because their ways are so different from the ways in which I am told to do things. Consider these instructions,
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44) And there’s more –
“If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:29-31)
There are ideas such as losing my life to save it, the first being last and the last first, not accumulating riches here in this foreign kingdom but rather in the kingdom where my citizenship is, that when I am weak – then I am strong in Christ . . . just about everything is different in the kingdom I call home, where I’m headed, than it is in this place where I currently reside. But most days, I look more like a citizen of my current culture than I do a citizen of my true and future homeland. I am not supposed to be fitting in with the world’s ways. As a citizen of God’s kingdom I have to keep in mind that God said,
” ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Every place on this earth is an end of the earth kind of place, because it is full of people spending their lives in various pursuits that will never fully satisfy, while their deepest need goes unmet – their longing to know who they are, whose they are, their value and their purpose – all a part of their need to know their Creator.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
That “eternity in my heart” is what lets me know my citizenship is not in this temporal world. However, I am a missionary to this world, whether I applied for the job or not. I am a foreigner on assignment here, following the command given in Mark 16:15,
“Go ye into all the world and preach the Good News to every creature.”
Ok Lord, if I’m livin’ the dream of living for You in a foreign culture, then Lord please help me to –
“Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. . . . Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. . . . Bless those who persecute me; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with others. . . . as far as it depends on me, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, but leave room for God’s wrath. . . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-21)
sincerely, Grace Day
3 thoughts on “livin’ the dream”
I really liked this and the idea that we’re already missionaries right where we are.
Thank God we are not alone on assignment … many members in many locals, but one Body and one Lord! Thankful to be along side you in spirit!
Thank you for the reminder that we are Christ’s ambassador’s here in the US, a foreign land in many ways. I love the challenge to my way of thinking and responding to the world we live in right now! God bless!