Freedom From Being Used, Even By God
It seems to me a bit unlikely that God would chose a missionary to be the one to speak about the “freedom from being used, even by God”. By definition a missionary is “a person who is sent on a mission” and a mission is “a task or duty assigned”. So, missionaries by definition are doers with a job to get done so, it would seem appropriate to make the “doing” the focus.
Almost 30 years ago when my husband I were in training to go to the mission field, we felt God speak very clearly to us what the focus of our ministry would be. God told us He was not sending us to Thailand for what we would do for the Thai people, rather He was sending us to Thailand for what He wanted to do in our own hearts. He was re-arranging our lives for the purpose of knowing Him better.
Through 25 years of living and working in Thailand it would be easy to lose that focus. After all, we had a responsibility to our praying friends and supporters to inform them about what we were “doing”. We had annual reports to fill out and questionnaires to answer to that end. As we evaluated plans and goals, it was easy to think that perhaps our value was based on what we were doing more than the One who sent us. Coming back on furloughs were probably the most challenging times we faced in keeping the right focus. Our supporters were vital in equipping us and encouraging us while we were on the field, but to be honest, they were also sometimes a stumbling block to keeping the “main thing, the main thing”. We would come home to accolades of how wonderful we were to make what they called sacrifices to do what we were doing. Some said they wished they had the same courage and faith that they felt we had. It would have been awfully easy to believe the message we were hearing; that our work somehow made us more valuable to others and to God. But the truth is we were just doing something different than most people and it was not of any greater value than anything that God was doing in their own lives. We constantly had to remind ourselves to keep the focus where it belonged, on the Father and our relationship with Him.
In this journey to know Him more, I realized that while I loved God, I was not “in love” with Him. I asked God to help me to “fall in love” with Him and I began to pray this verse: “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering, becoming like Him in His death. And so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Phil 3:10-11 (NIV)
The more I came to know Him, the more He drew me deeper “in love” with Him by revealing His Father heart for me. He gave me a picture of us together in a beautiful field of flowers. He took my hands and began to dance with me in circles around the field. His eyes looked deeply into mine and without words they spoke to me of His unconditional love, His joy and His delight in me. It was almost more than my mind could comprehend, yet I knew in my soul that I could believe it was true. I was His joy and delight, not because of what I was doing but because I was His beloved daughter. He was giving me what we both longed for, a love relationship between Father and daughter.
One blessing that came from going deeper in relationship with God is that the work with the Lua tribe and the children of the Agape Home began to bear the fruit we were praying for. Out of a love relationship with the Lord, He gave a deep love for the people He called us to work for and with. The joy of the work was one of the greatest gifts that came from focusing on our relationship with the Father. I loved working with the Agape children and I felt that I had something of value to offer them and that my efforts were worthwhile and making a difference in their world. Loving these kids was my passion and I had no plan to do anything different.
But after 25 years on the field, God called us back to live in the U.S. and continue ministry from this side of the pond. For Rick, God opened the door for him to build missions training centers in several places around the world. For me, well this time He is saying that He wants me to be still and learn to “rest” in Him. Once again, he is bringing me back to going deeper still in relationship with Him. The struggle is real as I sit in my lovely Knightstown home and think about my Agape Home kids and all I could still be doing on their behalf. The struggle is real as I look for things to fill the long days that Rick is away doing what God has tasked him to do. I confess that I have to fight with the thought that my value is diminished because I am no longer on the front lines of ministry. It is a battle of the mind to reject the lies of the Enemy that accuse me, saying, “You’re a slacker, you’re no longer relevant in the Kingdom work”. I feel the weight of the need to be doing something for the Lord, but He is challenging me again to be free from the need to be used by Him. I know that the greatest need I have is to know Him more, to love Him more. Even so, I can’t seem to resist the urge to ask Him, what do You want and what do You want me to do? He gently answers me with these words. “I desire to be found by you and I orchestrate the events of your life with that purpose in mind.” (Oswald Chambers) And that is what I want too, to be found by Him, to be loved by Him so that His love and glory might be revealed in my life.