In a letter to his parents in the summer of 1950, Jim Elliot defended his feeling called to go to Ecuador on mission saying, “I dare not stay home while Quichuas perish.” (reference below) A little under 2,000 years earlier, Paul wrote something similar in a letter to the Corinthians. “Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News.” (1 Corinthians 9:16)
We are all familiar with the story of Jonah, a man who refused his calling and chose his own desires over the needs God called him to attend to. Its always been very easy for me to judge Jonah’s actions from the comfort of my own simple surrenders and relatively easy life choices. Here and now, I still disagree with his actions, but I feel that I understand him a little better.
I sympathize very much with Jim and Paul in their deep desires to, despite the difficulty of their callings, not repeat Jonah’s mistakes. I dare not be anywhere other than where God has called me. How terrible for me if I didn’t lay down all that I have to follow the calling God has placed on my life to bring hope to the truly hopeless.
THIS CALLING HAS NOT BEEN EASY.
If I were to listen to my flesh I would pray that in the morning I would wake up with my friends in Charleston, Paris, Athens or New York only to realize this had all been a bizarre dream. But what I have been called to for this season is so much bigger than me. I could no sooner run from this than Jonah could abandon his calling to Nineveh.
The way I see it, I have two choices. I can lean in to God’s will for this season, let Him sustain me and watch as He brings about incredible restoration and transformation through my efforts, or I can take a bus over to the beach and wait for my God appointed fish to find me. Either way I don’t see myself waking up from this. He is too good and too merciful to allow me to run from this. Praise Him for being greater than my weakness.
FOR NOW, I AM HERE.
Though I may not feel like I have a choice on where God has placed me physically, my days are made up of infinite smaller choices. Each moment of every day offers a choice to be present, an opportunity to choose God or choose myself, to choose others or choose myself. Because of the greatness of God and the great need of those He has called me to serve, I dare not leave. Because of the love of my Savior and His ever-present support and encouragement, I choose to stay.
I need a big boost of kingdom perspective- I need to shift my focus and way of thinking to how I am affecting and blessing others, rather than how they are affecting me.
I need to see the people I encounter every day as God sees them; love them the way that God loves them.
I need refreshing of my spirit.
I need community.
I need renewed health from an unfortunate incident with some bad Chinese a few nights back. — renewed appetite would be golden as well.
And as always, safety, safety, safety!
** “Through Gates of Splendor” by Elisabeth Elliot was gifted to me by a wonderful friend before I left and has been an answer to prayer and source of encouragement since page one! It is well worth the read if you need a little something extra with your pumpkin spice everything this fall **