I’m not sure how much this blog post relates to missions or coffee, but it is an idea that has been stuck in my head for a couple weeks. I think it is more about being an American in the process of moving overseas, so maybe it fits.
I’ve run into a small problem. About three weeks ago I ran out of podcasts. For the last six months I’ve been listening to the China History Podcast. (Which is fantastic by the way. If you’re interested, I’d highly recommend getting started on episodes 58, 83-90 or 130-131). And I’m finally current on content. No one is happier about my catching up than my wife, who is probably sick of having to listen to Chinese names every time we take a road trip.
So I’ve decided to do the good Christian thing and start listening to sermons from guys I know or whose books I’ve read recently. It’s been great until it started messing with the way that I view the world. A couple weeks ago I listened to a message on the calling of the disciples. The crux of the message was about being usable by God, whatever that entails. Towards the end, the call is made to be obedient, even if it means having an illness, being poor, or living a life of obscurity.
Most of the time obedience has been portrayed to us as: God will call you to do something, you might have some hardships along the way but if you work hard and are obedient then he’ll work everything out. Like in Job. Things get hard for a while but in the end he gets way more than he had before and is better off because of it.
But what if that’s not always the way that it works?
What if sometimes we are called to do things that may not work out all that great for us (at least by our standards)? It isn’t exactly the Health and Wealth gospel, but I think a lot of times I buy into the equally wrong Safe and Secure Gospel. Even with things that seem crazy like packing up my family and moving across the world, there’s still the thread of “Well if you’re obedient then you’ll be fine.” To be honest, that may not be the case. We’re called to obedience, not security. And as I’ve been walking through packing up and leaving I’ve noticed that the two often are exclusive of each other.
As I’ve written several times before, I’ve been reading a lot of Hebrews 11. One of the sections that doesn’t get much pulpit time is verses 35-38. Those four verses are full of things that we don’t usually associate with being obedient. But sometimes God calls us to obedience that can be hard or not make sense.
And I think that’s obedience. If/when that call comes are we willing to take up our cross and follow him. Hopefully it isn’t something involving being sawed in two. But in the grand scheme of things, it sure makes me feel like packing up and moving across the world is not that hard of a thing.