Not everyone marches to the beat of the same drummer, and that's ok.
I recently listened to a testimony of an accomplished gospel singer and it broke my heart.
He was raised in the church, strayed, tried drugs and what the world had to offer. Very quickly he felt like the prodigal lost and alone.
He visited a church and the minute he entered he felt the Lord’s presence over him!
He was starved for a touch from the master!
He ran to the altar, repented and was filled with the Holy Spirit!
He was renewed!
He spoke with the pastor, committed to come and be a faithful member, he was desperate to belong. The following Sunday, he wakes up early, showers, prays and prepares his heart and mind to give God his best.
When he arrives, he rushes to the youth section to sit with his fellow young people, shortly after sitting the ushers ask him to sit further back. He didn’t question it he thought, "maybe they’re a choir and I didn’t know". He still worshipped God with all his heart.
Wednesday he went to church and the usher tells him to please sit further back from the young people, this time he asked the usher, “why?”
The usher replies; “you’re still under observation, we can’t let you sit with our young people yet.” Ouch!
The following Sunday, the youth pastor approaches him and tells him to please start wearing a shirt and tie to church, tuck in his shirt, get a haircut and then maybe he could participate.
This young man kept doing what he was told, than one day without realizing; he stopped feeling the presence of God in and out of service.
He looked how they wanted him to look, but he no longer had the liberty to worship God with all his heart because he was so shut in with his new “uniform” he couldn’t afford dry cleaning and he didn’t want to sweat all over his suit.
This was a startling realization for him, he left defeated and did not want to return, he felt he could never be good enough or look Christian enough to be accepted.
The sad, sad truth is many people do this. I call them “church police” they’re always writing citations and handing out violation notices. We attended a church where there was a “Sheriff”. She was awful.
What does this have to do with missions?
I have always struggled to fit in, mainly because I am not a suit and bun kind of gal. I love them on others, but just can’t wear them myself.
I am opinionated, I read my Bible unsupervised, I climb in and ride into battle with Deborah, I am at the feet of Jesus with Mary Magdalene, I am in the upper room with the Apostles, I am next to Paul when he is blinded, I am in the fire with those three guys!! I can’t read my word like this and then turn around and have a quiet spirit…
Why are we meant to feel shame for feeling empowered by the very word of God we are supposed to follow!
I was battling all these things in my mind; I could not take my thoughts captive those few days. This is where knowing the word of God can be a bit of a burden because when you want to have a pity party, his word reminds you, what you are called to be. The word tells me I am a mighty warrior, be humble, vocal and silent all at the same time!
I was in the middle of Sam’s club and I was having a battle in my mind, I wandered over to the book section and picked up a bible and right there in the middle of that warehouse the Lord spoke to ME, by MY name…
I even snapped a photo of the verse:
“Who do you say that I am” Mark 8:29
You are my healer, deliverer, redeemer, you have saved me from the pit of destruction, you have given me children a healthy marriage, ministry, missionaries.
YOU ARE MY GOD!
Just like that, he quieted all the voices in the wind and reminded me I am His and He is mine.
In this moment I felt like Samuel when Hannah was leaving him in the temple (my interpretation of how she speaks to him) she bends to his level, looks him square in the eyes and says; “But those who stumble… those who stumble… are armed with strength” 1 Samuel 2:4
Have you ever seen clips of movies where the warrior is about to be defeated they are even on the ground then without any warning, they jump to their feet and are armed with new strength!!!!
In my mind, that is exactly what she is telling him, it won’t always be perfect here (irony that she is leaving him in the temple, sometimes our biggest battles are within the walls of the holy places) you will have days where you are defeated my son, that does not mean you are not an answered prayer, that does not mean you are not called of God, it means, STAND UP, ARM YOURSELF WITH NEW STRENGTH AND DO WHAT YOU ARE CALLED TO DO!
I am simply saying; don’t be afraid of those around you that believe the same way you do, but may not look the same. Their call is not less and they should not be meant to feel like outcast when they come to the same well that you are drinking from.
Some of us don’t have goblets handed down to us from our ancestors, some don't have that beautiful Apostolic Heritage, but we are still called and we are still His.
Our children may come in looking different; do you know why that is?
They are in the Mission field and they smell like the harvest!
So many enjoy what is grown in the field but very few put their hands to the plow and even fewer bend down to reap it.
Forgive them, they are not looking for pity, they are looking for the friendly faces of the owners of the vineyards!
Can I tell you how heartbreaking it is to attend events where we are not equipped; instead I have to worry if I look how I should look?
We have questions; how do you counsel a young person, who is cutting?
What services can we offer with discretion and confidence for the marriage that is falling apart?
Is there a ministry for single parents?
Is there a place for a recovering addict to go?
How can we receive a gender-confused person and still maintain a standard to win them over for the kingdom!
If you don’t know or worse don’t care to know how a sinner looks and feels than you’ve already lost your call.
Jesus said, “If you’re not gathering, you’re scattering” Matthew 12:30
One of my greatest fears as a national missionary is this; that we will become like the orphanages in third world countries, the babies no longer cry or wail in the nurseries because they've realized that no matter how much they cry or scream for help, no one, no one is coming.
To our missionaries everywhere remember the words of Jesus;
"But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it"
Remember to pray for the workers of the field.
We are part of the same family.
In the fields of Columbus, Ohio
Written in 2016