Saturday, April 14, 2012
Truths From the Mission Field
As I have looked back over the past week at my recent mission trip to West Liberty, Kentucky, I have asked myself what I learned from the trip. Probably the most glaring thing I learned is something I don't like to admit: I am a murmurer...a complainer...one who if I were on the journey to the Promised Land with Moses and the Israelites would have died in the wilderness and not been allowed to go in and take the land.
I asked God before I left for His help in accepting whatever conditions I met there. Before the first 24 hours were done, I had failed myself and the Lord in keeping that goal in mind.
What did I complain about? Three guesses. Give up? Well, our trip was to Eastern Kentucky. In the hills thereof. It is not what you would call a wealthy area of the Country, or the State for that matter. We stayed at a nice little Nazarene Church. We had the basement of the church which encompassed the Sunday School area and the Fellowship Hall/Kitchen. The parsonage was adjacent to the church.
The first thing I complained about were the showers. We had showers - four or five of them to be exact - but they were on the back porch of the parsonage and were open to the rear woods with just a wooden railing between you and the woods. I didn't complain about the showers so much as I complained about the possibility of snakes. After a long day of working in the hot sun, I soon forgot all about complaining about those showers for any reason, though.
The other thing I complained about was food. There's no good reason for me to complain about food, but for some reason, I've gotten it in my head, that I don't eat sausage, biscuits, gravy, or sugar coated cereals. No, this is not the healthiest of breakfast fare, but believe me I could live off the fat of the land for a good two to three weeks, if I didn't like what was offered, I should have just passed on the meal and kept my mouth completely shut. No, I didn't complain to the church or the pastor or the cook; nothing like that, but I murmured about it to a couple other travelers. As I look back on it, I am ashamed of my conduct. I have asked God's forgiveness, and I know He is faithful to forgive those sins that I confess.
I guess what's bothering me is the fact that I knew the danger. I knew what might happen. Yet, I still didn't come away with a victory, and it distresses me to know how weak my will is and how easy it was to say just a few little negative words about the showers and snakes and the nutritional lack in the food that was served.
Thank God for His grace and His mercy. Thank God that He is a god of second chances, and third for that matter. But He is also a god that requires His people to grow up in Him, to be content in all situations and to rely on Him for everything. I learned something about myself last week, and it's not pretty. I am a spoiled brat. There I was in the midst of all that destruction, and I still complained and murmured. God should have spanked me, but He didn't. It helps me realize just how much I need God to work in me and how I need God to continue transforming me. There are going to be more trips to West Liberty, and next time I pray that I will please Him with my contentment in all things; my thankfulness for what He provides for me - no matter how much it's unlike what I'm used to (for good or not).
The whole reason to go on mission for God is to serve others and to bring hope and the love of God to those who are suffering; not to be served. I went to help in any way that God saw fit for me to help, even if it was cleaning up sewage.
God knows our hearts, and so I'm thankful that He knows I learned a lesson there. I pray that He will bring that lesson to fruition in me and that I will learn to be content in times of abundance and also in times of leanness.
Father, forgive me. I have sinned by murmuring and complaining in a situation where you placed me and I should have accepted and been happy with the provisions you made for me. I realize that in the future, I may be placed in situations much worse and/or much better and that in order to glorify you, I need to be thankful and appreciative no matter what measure of provisions I am presented. I long to be a child who pleases you, Father; so I ask you to give me more of you and let there be less of me. Let the words of my mouth, the thoughts in my mind and deeds that I do today be pleasing and glorifying to you and your holy name. I ask it in Jesus' name. Amen