January 8, 2007 is a very important day in my life because that’s when I said goodbye to my family at an airport in Charlotte, NC and eventually arrived in Melbourne Australia on January 10 as a new Missionary. My heart was filled with conflicting emotions that day. Sadness over leaving my family for three years, and an overwhelming excitement about what God was going to do through me in Melbourne.
Walking through the metal detectors I felt as if that excitement which proved God’s call upon my life would put a permanent smile on my face, but less than a month later tears of frustration and homesickness replaced that smile. This morning’s letter is for Excited John reminding him that emotion doesn’t always equal calling.
January 8, 2007
Dear Excited John,
Well, this is it mate, almost three years after a short-term missions trip your returning to the place you call home. I know you are wrestling with a weird combination of emotions now. Surrounded by family and friends with tears streaming down their faces trying to keep you from leaving while your heart is literally screaming, “Let me go now!”
That doesn’t mean walking away from your parents and brother doesn’t hurt, tears will be shed as you walk through security but they will soon be replaced by a massive smile that will last all the way to Melbourne. In moments like this God is incredibly close and His call upon your life is unmistakable, but unfortunately ministry isn’t always feel this way. In a few weeks you will lay awake in bed and ask God why He seems so far away.
That teaching ministry that you excitedly told all those Churches about during deputation has fallen through since there aren’t any students. So instead of explaining the truths of Scripture your stuck writing notes for a class on the book of Daniel that will never take place.
The financial support that was supposed to pay all your bills and have money left over will begin covering less and less. As the “emergency money” each month goes faster than expected you will begin to worry about not raising enough.
The culture of Melbourne being focused on relationships will result in time and energy being spent on connecting with people and getting to know them instead of teaching or discipleship. This will lead a frustration on your part over not being involved in real ministries, only to later realize this is an important part of ministry
Since transition into a new ministry and culture is hard the other Missionaries will request you spend two months before getting actively involved in a local Church.
These and other things will lead to you laying awake in bed at night and asking God why things haven’t worked out the way they were supposed to. This discouragement comes from the fact you no longer feel called to Melbourne. And that little word feel makes all the difference.
The Lord knows that Missions is hard which is why He gave you situations like the one in the Charlotte airport, these experiences can be used an anchor or proofs that He has indeed called you to the mission field. Those anchors are needed because there are many times when you won’t feel called to serve in Melbourne. And that’s okay because the Lords Will for our lives isn’t based upon emotion. It’s based upon that burden for the Australian people who God has placed upon your heart.
God is always there my friend…so on those days when He seems far away…be thankful that He isn’t