As I grew up, I thought about my future, what I would do, where I would go, and what life would be like as the years went by. I had the usual dreams: to get married, have a couple of kids, have a job that I at least tolerated, and by the time my children grew up, I would be settled into the home where I would eventually retire.
Boy was I way off base! Life, as it has turned out, has been far from normal.
Competing for my attention together with my “normal” desires of what a regular family looks like were my desires to see God take me on an amazing adventure. In my high school years, I became one of “those” Christians who dreamed big dreams about what God could do through me. I was very well aware of the fact that alone I didn’t amount to much but my relationship with the Lord was “front and center” of everything and my inabilities faded in the wonder of His great ability. I knew He could do and would do anything I dared to dream for Him.
As a senior in high school (in my time at least) the class would take what’s known as a “senior trip.” My sister’s class, for example, had taken a senior trip to Mexico two years before my senior year. The year my class went on a trip, we were to travel to Europe. Instead of anticipating going to Europe like a normal senior, I wasn’t interested, not in the least. I couldn’t explain it to anyone; I knew my parents would have found a way to pay for my way had I wanted to go. Perhaps they were silently relieved I didn’t want to go.
The youth group at our home church planned short-term missions a trip to Haiti at nearly the same time as the senior trip was to take place and I knew what I wanted to do instead of going to Europe. Instead of going on a normal senior trip that year, I took my first trip to a foreign country on a missions trip where I slept on a concrete floor with no mattress. I had a few blankets to make the floor as comfortable as possible, but they didn’t help, yet I didn’t mind. My adventure had begun.
We toured the city of Port-au-Prince and a few outlying villages. It was hot. There were bugs. The food was different and I found myself at home during those few days we spent in Haiti. As I stepped onto the plane returning home, I suspected that flight not going to be my last overseas.
That suspicion turned into reality and not many years after that first trip, I found myself boarding plane after plane as a career missionary. This life has been far from the normal dreams that competed for my attention all those years ago as a young girl. Slowing down is not an option at any time in my near future as my husband and I somehow find the energy to keep dreaming, keep going, and keep doing.
There are parts of this lifetime adventure that have cost a great deal, and I’m not talking about plane tickets (which are costly!). If you were to ask me how much did I have to pay for this life, the answer would be a little complicated.
The cost of the adventure and being witness to what God has done in the past 35+ years has been a multi-faceted one in that I’ve had to pay a price on many levels. Not only does this life touch you financially, but it also touches you emotionally and spiritually. Paying this kind of price is an unpopular message in our day and age of building a “better” life than what our parents had. We always assume “doing better” means having more: more money, a bigger house, better cars, and more friends. I believe, however, that “doing better” means doing the will of God. What could be better than following the call of God no matter where it may lead – around the world or across the street? I pray my kids will do better and go farther than I have; I pray they follow God better than I have, and that they see more of His power than I have for I know He is the Key to their success. He is the only One Who can keep them secure in this complicated world we find ourselves in.
Matthew 19:29 NKJ “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.”
How much have I had to pay? A lot when you look at it from a natural perspective. I’ve separated from my parents and way of life and had to learn multiple languages and cultures. I’ve lived through war and rejection and I have seen my grown children leave the nest. I have felt, at times, that there was nothing left in my wallet to give until God asked for more.
Why would someone want to pay this much? Because God convinced me as I lived life with Him, that the life He could give me would be much better than anything I could build on my own. I’ve certainly not understood the twists and turns on this road we have traveled, but somehow we have made it to every destination along the way.
This life of a missionary may not appear to be a successful one in the eyes of my peers or the eyes of others in this world. It is not lucrative nor is it for the faint of heart. Life is always lived “on the edge.” We’ve never lacked, though. Our children have always had clothes, food, and schooling. However, we have often gone without the “creature comforts” that everyone hopes to enjoy. There have been times when I’ve wondered if I will ever have paid enough “dues” to enjoy basing out of a permanent home or having more help to get the work done.
Then I remember, our business (all of our business) on this earth is not about how much we save or how many homes we own, or how comfortable our lives can be. Our business has eternal benefits; we are laying up heavenly treasures that last, the souls of men and women, for God’s will is for all to come to know Him (Matt. 18:13-15).
Luke 17:10 NKJ “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
I want to do more than just what is required, so there’s a price to pay. It’s not a one-off price either. It’s something I pay daily because I want His version of success and not my own.