“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews12:1-2ESV
This idea that we are called to run a race with endurance, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses...have you ever really considered what this means? God is calling us to put down the things that slow us down, to train so we can endurance run...and we have cheerleaders!
Scripture is giving us a beautiful picture to encourage us to fight against the desire we have to sprint, our need for instant gratification. It shows us we must commit to the longer race. There are many difficulties in this for me! The biggest one is I can’t see the finish line when I start. I like to know where I am going, what the road looks like, what all I need for the trip and the list goes on. It is hard for me to put things down – to lay aside the unnecessary weight. I have armored up and I have lots of baggage. But it is impossible to endurance run unless I put some of those things down. That’s a little bit scary because in my human frailty, I believe that I need all of my things. But today, we want to talk about the things that really matter when you are preparing for mission work (running the race that is set before us). I am so encouraged that we are not running this race alone. There are those surrounding us, a great cloud of witnesses.
But for the joy set before ME, can I follow the example of Christ?
When preparing for mission work, Leigh Taylor Hamilton, from World Medical Mission, asks us to consider adding these things to the checklist:
My dad declared at the dinner table “I feel like I’m becoming more humble lately.” I quickly said, “Dad, you can’t say that!” I believe what he meant to say was, “God has really been working on me and my pride.” After thinking about this, I realized that while most believers do not outwardly make such contradictory statements, we do harbor secret pride. Secret pride creeps into mission work because of one word: sacrifice. We secretly look at our sacrifices within material wealth, time, and skills and then think look what I gave up. We know that in mission work, if we hold onto this pride in sacrifice we will never fully experience true biblical humility therefore missing freedom from our selfishness. It doesn’t mean we do not have confidence in our calling and knowing who we are but it does mean that we need to lay aside any thoughts toward titles and renown – especially in the secret place of the heart that harbors these desires and need of recognition. 1 Peter 5:5 reminds us that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Missions will put your flexibility to the test. Between third-world systems, licensing, transportation, and minimal resources you will quickly realize how important it is to know your limits and how to work through those tests. This is why we must surrender any expectations of how the journey will go towards the will of God. Be open to new plans, cancellations and changes in directions. This allows for God to work through us.
Be pretty good at a lot of different things. Missionary work will require you to do different things you aren’t always comfortable with or feel prepared for but we at least try and learn different ways of doing things in order to understand others we will work alongside.
And Remember: Ask God to search your heart (Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts) and reveal the areas that exist where secret pride creeps in, flexibility limits us, and versatility fails -the known and the unknown. May He reveal this to your hearts as you confidently accept this call to serve.
To God only be the Glory.