God and the Plight of the Single Missionary

It’s a real thing.

I cannot count the number of questioning, sympathetic, bewildered faces I have faced when I explain God has called me to be a Missionary. “Don’t you want to be married before you go?” Most will ask. Others will be even more poignant and nosey: “Is God calling you to singleness?”

A call to Missions may or may not be a call to singleness. It may or may not be a call to marriage. I don’t know. What I do know is that marriage is not our goal, sharing the glory of Jesus Christ is. We are trusting him to take care of our needs.

Brothers and sisters, I ask that you’d be sensitive to our single missionaries! Yes, more than likely we want to be married. We are discouraged yet encouraged by Him who asks us to trust Him. We face acute loneliness and wait to be comforted by the God who placed us there. We persevere through the drudgery of necessary learning, everyday tasks and being taken advantage of. Yet we know this is our loving God who is changing us, molding us into something that looks a little more like Him. Yes, we wish we had a partner through all this, but we also know that it can’t be just anyone. Our calling is specific and so must our spouse be. So in this we wait on God, trusting that if we “Seek His kingdom first, all of these things will be added unto us”. We are trusting in His timing. We are waiting for Him.

Singleness doesn’t mean that person’s issues somehow disqualified them from being marriage material (‘Cause, we all have baggage that could do that). This doesn’t make us more holy; our needs and desires are the same as yours. Simply put, we wait; we trust that God will take care of us in this.

waiting

Spiders’ Web

I am now in my second semester of seminary.

Academically speaking, it’s not difficult (yet). Spiritually, I feel I am training for a triathlon. And let me tell you, this training has been filled with more failure than success. I’ve always prayed, always tried to grow closer in my walk with Christ, but I’ve never actually been intentional with disciplines like fasting, celebration, solitude, etc. One of the requirements for this class is that I create a six-month plan for improving on some of these disciplines. Mind you, this has been done with the guidance of a couple people: John Ortberg in “The Life You’ve Always Wanted”, Richard Foster in “The Celebration of Discipline” and “Fasting for a Spiritual Breakthrough” by Elmer Towns have been tremendous resources in this journey. I would strongly recommend all three.

But like I said before, it’s been filled with more failure than success. The moment you get serious about your relationship with Christ, so does the enemy. And like a wound that festers, it gets worse before it gets better. So you had better know how to disinfect it.

(Side Note: I wonder why all my posts morph into how-to articles? It’s like I avoid talking about myself like it were a plague, and trust me when I say this makes some friendships and dates a little awkward. Other times, I just can’t seem to stop talking! It’s terrible. Just terrible.)

That said, I’ve come to a sort of standstill. In my haste to return to the mission field I’ve neglected the foundation which Jesus had built within me. The more I wander, the more I learn that our first initiative should be to love God. Our second is to love people. I am guilty of having tried to earn this love by devoting it to other people, but it has only left me to face the darkness in my own mind. This love must first be received before I can be poured out. But like William Wilberforce in his movie representation, Amazing Grace, I find myself “occupied with spiders’ web”.

Seeing God in light filtered by a heavy fog, or in the ecosystem of a lake, I’m stilled before each scene like a conductor before an orchestra. God’s presence has been a breath of fresh air to my soul. It has been the tether to my sanity of late. I’m not going to pretend to be super christian, because the struggle against depression and consistency has been real. “Not that I have obtained for am perfected, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” -Philippians 3:12

As this journey continues, I hope to be even more enamored with “spiders’ web” and less so with myself.

Surfing, Sunshine and Surfer Folk

To my East coast buddies who are without water and power because of the terrible snow and ice, I do apologize for this post. Please know you’re in my prayers, even if by living in Florida I can, in no way, relate.

You see, Florida is experiencing its first few days of genuinely warm weather (80F). And before you scoff (as most of you northerners will), it is the first glimpse of our “never ending summer”. So if you’re like me, this can mean only one thing:

It’s surfing season!

Surfers are crazy because the act of surfing is crazy. We suffer through bruises, cuts, rashes and bodies so sore we feel like we’re recovering from a fistfight, all for the purpose of a single moment.  In that moment we’re flying, untouched by the demands and sorrow of the world. You see, we’ve worked hard and trained for the moment when our board is the only thing preventing the ocean from swallowing us whole. It’s in that single moment that we are Kings and Queens of an unknown space between the ocean and the skyline. And for me, it’s a moment that gives ultimate glory to Jesus Christ because in it there’s no room for doubt and fear, only pure and overwhelming joy. To play a part in such a phenomenal moment demands your complete and total attention to the present. If you’re like me, stuck in your head most of the day, this is pretty significant.

So the next time you meet a surfer and think, “Man, this guy is crazy”, you’ll have a better understudying of why. 🙂

God’s presence and croissants

Happy Monday!

As I write this, I’m listening to sweet worship music in my church’s coffee shop, eyeing the delicious looking croissants cooling on a nearby counter. Just like kryptonite to superman, croissants are my guilty pleasure and undeniable weakness. Believe it or not, I have Africa to thank for this.

I had a thought. While it’s just a building, God has rested his name in this place (1 Kings 8) and so, no matter where you’re at, his presence is strong and it is sweet. Even at its café, you are given to contemplation on Jesus and the blessings he has brought you. I say blessing, not meaning health, wealth or prosperity. Instead I say blessing in the sense that, even if you are overloaded by work and suffering from the pain life brings, He’s taking care of you. He is Immanuel.

Give some time to contemplate your blessings. And while you’re at it, find a nearby bakery and treat yourself to a croissant!

A Letter to my Brothers and Sisters

Today I’m not writing with purpose or instruction. My intention is not to inform or to bring the reader to the precipice of some great biblical epiphany. In this especially, my words are deserting me, leaving only a deep aching sadness that I have not acknowledged until now. My only hope is that maybe you who are reading this can relate, and that I’m not alone.

My generation is failing.

Young and on fire for Christ, we were supposed to be the ones who were brave enough to venture into the darkest parts of the world as bearers of The Light. We were supposed to be educated enough to know when we’re deceived or just plain wrong. We were supposed to be followers of Christ, giving up what we cannot keep to gain what we can never lose.

Instead, our open-mind has left us without boundaries. And horrible things have been welcomed in. It has made us complacent and dry; no one can take us seriously because we no longer take ourselves or Jesus Christ seriously. We can’t defend our beliefs because, suddenly, they’ve been altered to fit into a puzzle that it was never supposed to fit into. Before my very eyes, Matthew 13:24-30 is coming alive, only I never expected to be best friends with the tares. I never expected the wheat to be so thin, so sparse.

Like I said before, I’m not writing this with an agenda. I’m not perfect by any means, and failure seems to play a part in my daily life, but I believe in God’s word. Every. Singe. Page. I’m writing this because I want to encourage you, Jesus-Follower. The world will tell you you’re wrong, and there may come a time when you nearly believe it. It’s okay to doubt and question God. In fact, I think it’s healthy. But let it be the motivation that pushes you to search for answers. Jesus is worth following. Don’t give up.

Happy New Year! (An update from a returning writer)

Once again I’m left reveling at my New Year resolution to write more. Haven’t I been here before? A most transparent recluse, I feel juxtaposed between wanting to express myself and wanting my privacy. But I’m stretching a weakened muscle here. It’s a new year. That means a fresh start.

Every year my pastors encourage us to pray for  a word or a theme for upcoming year. The intention is to ask God what He would like to teach us or change us with in the upcoming year.

Well, after a few weeks of prayer, and one early morning wake-up call from God, He gave me my word: Constant.

My prayer has turned into a desperate plea for consistency in my walk with Christ. I weary of this emotional roller coaster, of not knowing how to prayerfully keep my mind and heart strong against these daily attacks. I want to walk humbly with my God all the days of my life.

So where does this leave me now? Sitting on a couch with a steaming cup of oolong tea, filled to the brim with a hopes and aspirations for the upcoming year. Perhaps I’ll actually finish drawing the comic strip series, or even finish a children’s novel. Maybe I’ll even hit it big, pay off my loans and head for the elusive mission field somewhere in Japan or Africa.

In any case, I’ll continue to be apart of the (seemingly hopeless) club for really big dreamers who still need motivation.

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