When It\’s Hard

“You’ll find that everythingis an emergency,” she said, almost mockingly. “There are other places that they can go for help, though. It’s best not to let people in your home. It needs to be your place to rest. In the villages, Indians aren’t allowed into the missionaries’ homes. They can meet with them other places, but not in their homes.”
I tried to track with what she was saying, but somehow it didn’t sit right with me.
Then she gave the usual advice about setting time frames for people to come over, “being careful”, and not getting “too involved”.
But something in me said, “That can’t be right…”
This came from a missionary who has been doing this for several decades and I wanted to believe that what she was saying were words of wisdom. I wanted to believe that I could separate myself from the needs around me. Compartmentalize if you will.
I wanted it to be that easy.
But somehow when that brown hair, brown eyed girl that you love with fragments for teeth and those same tattered clothes comes over to your house with a tummy ache and throws up in your floor and then crawls up in your lap to be held because her mom and dad don’t care an ounce about her, you just can’t seem to find it in you to say, “Sorry, this is our home where we rest. You can’t come in.”
And when you have an Indian Pastor from a two day canoe ride up river come to you with his family of eight and tell you that they are in town for the night with no where to stay and his wife and two daughters have malaria and his 73 year old mom is sick with something and his niece and nephew have a hacking cough and God provided for you to have medical training to care for these very things and you have two boxes full of medicines and the means to treat them and extra mattresses and more than enough food, you just can’t find it in you to say, “There is this clinic for Indians you can go to. You’ll have to sleep on the floor there and they probably won’t know what to treat you with and will send you away with nothing to eat, but we can’t get ‘too involved’.”
Then when six kids show up hungry for breakfast almost every morning in the same clothes they wore yesterday (or completely naked as is the case with the youngest) because their dad is always drunk and their mom works to pay for his drinking habit and her party habit and leaves her kids to fend for themselves, you just can’t seem to bring yourself to close the door and say, “This is our family’s meal time. I’m sure someone will feed you.”
But I wish I could sometimes.
I wish I could just close our doors to the reality of the world we live in with the sick and the hurting and the lost and the lonely. I wish I could pretend I didn’t know about that sick baby or that man with Tuberculosis or those little eyes watching pornography because they live in a one bedroom 200 square foot house with their drunken parents.
Sometimes I’m tired and I don’t want to answer the door. And if I have to break up one more fight over the crayons and explain one more time why we can’t live off of candy I might go crazy.
Sometimes I don’t speak in love and I forget to give grace.
Sometimes I fumble all over my words as I try to explain in my third language the why behind not stealing, not lying, not hitting and the only Person who can make us good.
Sometimes I lie in bed awake at 2am because our neighbor’s blaring music is literally shaking our wooden house and feel like I must be the worst parent in the world because between the laundry that I’ve been trying to dry on the line for three days because of the rain and the little mouths to feed and the half a dozen unannounced visitors and the three trips into town, I forgot to take a moment to stop and look into my own little boy’s eyes and see his needs.
And I laugh when I remember how I thought that selling everything and moving to another country away from family and all things familiar was the hard part.
No. The hard part is the dying to self every day.
Because if we don’t allow ourselves to be poured out and broken, we never learn to lean on the one who was poured out and broken for us.
If we close our doors and our eyes to the needs around us for the sake of comfort and ease, we close our hearts to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who wants to renew our minds and make us more into the image of Christ.
So, yes, many times we will tell the neighborhood kids that play time is over and send them home because our own kids needs some one on one. We will say no when we are asked for money for the non-essentials. Every now and then we will “run-away” to the nearby city to get some quality family time and uninterrupted rest.
But we will continue to feed bellies and clothe bodies and wipe tears and teach truth and disciple new believers and encourage old believers and bandage wounds and pray for the sick as long as God gives us the means by which to do it even when it is uncomfortable and we’re tired and the water tanks are dry and we all four have to pile up in one bed because the other four mattresses are unexpectedly occupied.
And our doors will remain open.
We don’t always want to do it. And we don’t always do it right. And we are still learning. But He never said it would be comfortable or easy. And He never said to be safe or to not get too involved.
It’s hard.
But it’s in the hard that we are made like Him.
“We give no opportunity for stumbling to anyone, so that the ministry will not be blamed. But as God’s ministers, we commend ourselves in everything:
by great endurance, by afflictions,
by hardship, by difficulties,
by beatings, by imprisonments,
by riots, by labors,
by sleepless nights, by times of hunger,
by purity, by knowledge,
by patience, by kindness,
by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,                           
 by the message of truth,
by the power of God;
through weapons of righteousness
on the right hand and the left,
 through glory and dishonor,
through slander and good report;
as deceivers yet true;
 as unknown yet recognized;
as dying and look—we live;
as being disciplined yet not killed;
as grieving yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many;
as having nothing yet possessing everything.”
2 Corinthians 6.3-10

4 thoughts on “When It\’s Hard

  1. Paul urges us in Romans to \”by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship\”. Worship is relying totally on him. His wisdom. His Holy Spirit who is willing moment by moment to lead you into all truth. As you worship through sacrifice -remember to keep your priorities in order – God, your family and then others. Consider our great example. John tells us that Jesus only did what he saw his father doing and only said what he heard his father saying. He also got away for times of prayer and refreshing.There is a great book out there called \”margin\”. Just like the text in a book has margins we need margins in our life. Jesus made time for margin in His ministry.My encouragement to you is do with reckless abandon all that He lays on your heart – but don't necessarily do all that you see needs done. God has a great team down there – his body – He is building it up. Ephesians tells us that it is being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causing the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.


  2. You're doing great guys. You've exceeded our wildest hopes for great co-workers. Can't wait to get back.Michael


  3. Thank you so much for sharing this. It really touched me and reminds me that missions is not the romantic and glorious image it's painted to be.. It's a call to die to self and live for the glory of God in the daily \”little\” decisions. But in our obedience He can and will do much. May God continue to bless your family and ministry among the least of these.


  4. Thank you so much for sharing this. It really touched me and reminds me that missions is not the romantic and glorious image it's painted to be.. It's a call to die to self and live for the glory of God in the daily \”little\” decisions. But in our obedience He can and will do much. May God continue to bless your family and ministry among the least of these.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: