Every day starts well with a cup of coffee.
This particular day was no different, as I sat quietly at the coffee shop, observing the endless flow of adventuring tourists, expat regulars, and local Thais stopping in on their way to work. Holding my latte, I looked out the window and thought about what my life has been like the past 3 ½ years living in between these worlds…having the appearance of a foreigner, yet the heart of a Thai. Always ready for the next adventure with God, like a child following after their father. Yet, more than someone just passing through. Roots connected to my home country, while adapting myself to become a part of a new one. This was everyday life, the challenge I had fought fervently to overcome, and I cherished these simple moments just to sit with Jesus without the thought of everything else that needed to be done that day.
Let me be honest.
There have been moments in ministry when I questioned whether breakthrough would come. Times when the problems and the needs of those around me seemed too big and overwhelming that I cried out to God, asking if change would ever truly come.
I have been no stranger to this challenge.
I was raised with a heart for adventure and stories of missionaries dancing in my head, sitting captivated on the church pew, my fit barely touching the carpeted floor as pictures from India, Brazil, and parts unknown flashed before my adolescent eyes.
I remember that day.
The day when I felt God stir in my heart the call to foreign missions. And I readily jumped into it, 2-feet first, though I didn’t fully understand what the call meant. My young heart longed to GO!
And what an adventure it has been!
Seasons of joy.
Seasons of abundance.
Seasons of breakthrough.
Yet, it has not always been easy.
Seasons of struggle.
Seasons of challenge.
Seasons of obstacles.
Still, I would not change any of it. Not one, tiny, messy bit of it. Jesus was always there, even amongst the mess.
So, the question came to me.
How do we continue in ministry, whether across the world or in our own backyards? When the needs become heavier than our arms can hold, what will sustain us?
Over these past years in foreign missions, Father has been lovingly teaching me something that has transformed my ministry perspective, and my life. However, I don’t believe it’s only for those of us who are living outside of our home country, but for all of us on this journey of life with Papa.
But in my humanness, I tend to forget. I am grateful that He is faithful to gently remind me, and at times give me a good push when I need it. This day as I sat in that coffee shop, my gaze wandered to a fountain just outside the window. Peaceful. Continually filling and always overflowing.
And I could hear His voice again. This is our life. Like that ever-flowing fountain. If I am filled up with the presence of God, it will overflow like the water of that fountain, soaking and preparing the soil of the hearts of unbelievers. The fruit of the Spirit will overflow so that they will also taste the sweetness of His presence.
However, we cannot give something that we don’t have.
My love can only go so far.
It is imperfect.
I could write a whole blog, or should I say many, about the times when I’ve tried to love others out of my own strength and I can say without hesitation that it went terribly wrong in the end. My strength ran out. My patience wore thin. I could only go so far in my own capacity. However, when we rest in the life-giving water of Jesus, it fills us and He gives us the ability to love others with a love that is beyond ourselves.
This is where it all begins. His love transforms our life, so that through us others may be transformed.
I’m continually learning to change my perspective. When Jesus is the highest pursuit of our hearts, not the call, He will give us the strength to endure. The ability to stand. The perseverance to press forward, even when the suffering of the world seems too great.
Because our hearts will cry out, “He is worth it!”
Jesus came into the suffering of the world, and He did not turn away from the pain of others. In fact, He suffered himself. And He is worthy of the reward of His suffering – for the world to know Him.
He died for the one. And He said that the one is worth it.
When I see every individual, not as a statistic, but as a brother, mother, uncle, sister, daughter, father, son, friend…as family, I continue to fight. Even when I don’t see the change. Because my Savior is worth it.
A wise woman once told me that “as we see the suffering in the world, we cannot turn away from it. But as we have a hand on the suffering, we must always have another hand on the hope, which is Jesus.” – Belinda Bauman (founder of One Million Thumbprints and co-founder of Together International).
Jesus is the hope of the world. And He has called all of us to join with Him. To rest in Him and allow the life-giving power of His presence to flow in and through us, so that the world can taste the goodness of the Father.
So, the next time you sip of a cup of coffee, whether you are simply passing through that season of life, or are in it for the long-haul, be encouraged with this:
As we touch the tangible suffering of this world, let us tightly take ahold of our Savior…
Our Deliverer. Our Intercessor. Our Rock. The Creator of the Universe. And the King of Glory, who is far greater than the power of darkness in this world. And His plan will not be stopped.
In the end, it is not our call that will sustain us, but rather knowing the One who has called us from the beginning.