"The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies." -Napoleon Bonaparte
I am a full-time missionary... and there are some confessions I need to make. I don't know about you, but when I was younger and read about or watched missionaries, I thought they were full of FAITH. Well, technically they are.... but there is so much that we often don't see. I thought about how nice and easy it would be to work in an environment where everyone believes the same thing, where your whole focus on God. It would come naturally to read the Word, study and pray. I don't know if I am just a really young and crazy missionary who doesn't know how to do this missionary thing right or what but that wonderful place I just described isn't reality. Missions is messy!
Now don't go running away covering your ears or gasping in horror. Take a moment and listen. I believe missions is suppose to be a messy business. I know that sounds weird but its true. What is missions?? My pastor used to say "Ministry is People." People, as we all know too well, are a messy business. We are broken, anxious, too confident, not confident enough, and imperfect. As believers, we are called to go into the mess and bring hope. How on earth, in a position on the front lines of spiritual warfare, can we think everything is rainbows and unicorns??? Yeah, ministry is a messy business. But that is actually a rabbit trail.... The main reason for writing this is my own personal journey with the Lord. I have to be honest, I struggle. I know that isn't anything new to those who know me. Spend any amount of time around me and you know I am a mess! Half the time I call my interns by the wrong name, can't find my glasses and have about 50 sticky notes of "to do" lists because at heart I am a 85 year old lady who can't handle technology. Ya, I have problems. I am the first to admit it...normally. But as a missionary, as an intern coordinator, Sunday School teacher, former counselor, I hate to admit one area that I struggle with. That is my personal devotions. I harp on the importance of them all the time. I know how important they are. I love doing them. I love the idea of them. I love teaching about them. But for some odd reason I struggle to be consistent in them!!
It isn't from lack of desire. I desire to sit with my many Bibles, concordances, maps and various other recourses laid open all over my living room floor. I would love to have a never ending pot of coffee, many highlighters, cute notebooks and good ballpoint pens at my disposal as I search the scriptures. But (yes there is always a "but").... Honestly you could fill it in with many things. But I have a meeting. But this intern needs me. But I have a recruiting trip. But I need to get the schedule out. But I need to work on this fundraiser. But my house needs cleaned. But I need to call that family member I haven't talked to in a while. But I need to catch up with that supporter. There is always something. It never stops. I get so caught up in ministry. The older I get, the more I identify with Martha. Shoot, she was doing some awesome things. Things that needed to be done! Do you know how much work ministry is?? 24/7 I am available for interns. 10 interns in the program and all the interns who have graduated. I need to make sure I know where they are at, at all times. I need to know their spiritual and emotional and physical well-being. Make sure their schedules are put out and everything is outlined clear. Answer questions. Take phone calls. Check Facebook messenger. Grade papers. send out notifications. Schedule classes. Meet with potential interns. Go through applications. Update social media. Work on the website. Take pictures and post them. Call colleges about recruiting trips. Talk to camp directors about rotations. Plan weekend activities. Send birthday cards. Send encouragement cards and care packages. Send out receipts. Write thank you notes. Update supporters. Go to staff meeting. THINGS HAVE TO BE DONE. It is ministry. But in the midst of this I am supposed to set aside time to spend one on one with the Lord????
The problem is I have been thinking about it all wrong. I have serving the ministry and not my God. It sounds horrible, because it is. But it is something that I struggle with. I have a "here and now" mindset and not an eternal mindset. Does it really make that big of a difference? Absolutely!! When I focus on the earthly, here and now, deadlines must be met rather than my God's law. Things and tasks become the most important rather than people and their spiritual well being. I begin building a legacy, a ministry, a building, a company rather than realizing that I am an alien bound for another place. My soul existence is based upon Christ's imminent return!! Yes, deadlines need met and meetings must happen (I should work diligently as unto the Lord); but how can I not choose the greater thing and sit at the feet of Jesus?
How on earth can I continue in this ministry, in the chaos, without Him! I mean being CLOSE to him. I need to sit at the feet of Jesus. As Martin Luther said, "I have so much to do today that I'm going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done." I don't know how this makes sense. The math doesn't add up. (not that I am that good at math.) I have more to do than the hours in a day. In my mind I should be maneuvering tasks so they don't take as long, not adding another item to my list that will take MORE time out of my day. Yet somehow, that is the key. It doesn't have to make sense. 1 Corinthians tells me that "God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength."
I can't explain how it makes sense, I just know that it works. There are days that I still struggle. It isn't easy getting up earlier when interns love to hang out and stay up late but its worth it. Somehow it works; and I don't want to go back. I want to keep sitting at my savior's feet. Each day I want to choose what is better. Not my cup of coffee, not a phone call, not an extra 30 min of sleep. Those all might be good but they are pale in comparison to the ONE who is better.
"But one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her."