As I sit here writing, it is just after 10 P.M. on a Sunday evening. I have a team of 8 people who have been at my house since yesterday afternoon who just returned from serving two weeks in Zambia. Emmet finally fell asleep in the pack n' play next to our bed, and the team is just getting ready to get some shut-eye themselves, as they are trying to kick the nasty jetlag from their trip. They're tired. I'm tired. Missions is exhausting.
Especially during the summer season, I often find myself wondering why we do what we do. Many times my immediate response (to myself, of course) is because we are called. We are called to mission. God has put us at YMI and given us many opportunities to be involved in mission. We love it, obviously, and that's why we do it.
But why? Why do I volunteer to give up my husband for so many weekends so that he can go train churches instead of being with his family? Why do I volunteer to spend my Sunday afternoon meal planning and grocery shopping for a team of 15 leaving on their mission trip the next day for a week? Why do I feel as if we go from one ministry team to the next with hardly a break in between? Why has it become so normal for me to be at events without Joe that now people just ask what church he's training and when he's coming back, and they are no longer surprised by his absence? Many times, the reigning question is this: why do we daily choose to give up our time, our energy, our vacation, our money, and often the comforts of home that would be considered normal, acceptable, and expected for many friends our age?
Christian answer? For the Glory of God. Good answer? For the Glory of God. Our answer? For the Glory of God.
But I still continue to ask why. What does it mean to live for the glory of God? To sacrifice what we want for what He commands? To surrender everything to making Him known?
And then we have nights like tonight. We sat around listening to the girls on the team share about their experience in Zambia and how they wanted to take what they learned and tangibly change something in their life. They want to commit to pray more: 5 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day. They want to dive into His word more, to read His word, to study his word. They want to share the Gospel with their family members who do not know of His grace, using some of the tools they learned to share that same Gospel on the other side of the world. They have learned about the passion of Christ, and saw first hand examples of Zambian Christians who rely on the Lord for everything, beginning with the food they eat. They have seen abundantly, served selflessly, learned greatly, and shared exponentially. They saw the Lord move mountains firsthand and are excited to share those stories of His glory with their families, friends, and communities. They have done mission differently, and they are passionate about the glory of God being made known.
It's after evenings like this that I am reminded of why we do what we do. We go, we train, we teach, we serve, we give to see young people in the United States become passionate about making God great, who then allow that passion to transform them into mission-minded Christian leaders who will impact the American church in untold ways. We strive to see their lives changed, their thinking challenged, their worldview expanded, their comfort zone stretched, their hearts molded. We call young people to a high standard because God calls them to high standards. We live to see them worship the Creator, and then lead others in that same worship.
David Platt writes the following in his book Radical:
We have created the idea that if you have a heart for the world and you are passionate about global mission, then you move overseas. But if you have a heart for the United States and you are not passionate about global mission, then you stay here and support those who go. Meanwhile, flying right in the face of this idea is Scripture's claim that regardless of where we live - here or overseas - our hearts should be consumed with making the glory of God known in all the nations.
Consumed. This is why we do it. This is why we sacrifice. This is why I spend all those nights alone. I desire for my heart to be consumed with Him, but ultimately it comes down to this - we train youth to make the glory of God known. And that makes it all worth it.