Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Civilian Pursuits

July 3, Wednesday

As I write these words, I am on an airplane headed to the United States.  Has it already been two weeks?  In some ways, I feel as if I have been in Africa for a very long time; in other ways, I cannot imagine the time passing more quickly than it has.

The plane to London was not very full, so we weren't crammed like we have been previously.  I had a window seat and a middle seat to myself, so I pushed up the arm rests, stretched out my legs, and actually slept in a nearly horizontal position.  It made for a good night's rest!  The Lord is faithful.  Sometimes being short in stature is a very good thing.

I brought "Follow Me" by David Platt to read on the plane, and the book's introduction left me floored.  Francis Chan wrote this section of the book.  His words blessed me tremendously.  What a God-given thing for me to read at a time like this.

Have you ever been on a short-term mission trip?  Wasn't it fascinating?  For a few days you explored a foreign country with a group of believers and were focused on ministry.  You laughed together as you ate strange foods and tried to speak the language.  Maybe you even suffered through sickness, harsh conditions, or actual persecution.

As nice as it was to return to the comforts of home, there was also a letdown.  You were back in the "real world."  There was a peace you felt when you did Kingdom work, and then it faded.  You returned to a routine in which you felt like much of what you do has no eternal value.

... The life God has for us is one of abundance.  It is meant to be full, not repetitive.  He wants us doing things that have eternal impact.  He wants us busy expanding his Kingdom in one way or another, today and every day.

... Paul said it like this: "No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him."

Don't most of us do the opposite?  We busy ourselves with "civilian pursuits" and occasionally jump into battle when we feel compelled.  Kingdom service is something we visit on a mission trip, day of service, or prayer meeting.  Being entangled in the civilian lifestyle has become the accepted norm.  It is even applauded so long as we can point to some occasional Kingdom activity.  But doesn't Scripture tell us to live differently?  And wouldn't your life be more "abundant" if you could figure out a way to be on the battlefield every day?

You may be looking at your life and assuming you have no options.  Isn't a person with bills, family, and responsibilities destined to be "entangled in civilian pursuits"?

Absolutely not.  You and I were made for more.

This came at perfect timing.  While I love working at Christian Relief Fund during the summers and Christmas break, I often feel so frustrated living a typical self-centered college life for the other eight months of the year.  I spend most of each day focused inward as I study, attend class, receive good things from Bible studies, and make sure I get enough sleep each night.  Sure, I am involved in ministries, but I so often feel like I want to explode, as if my life is on hold until I graduate.

I don't want to be this way!  I don't want to be focused on civilian pursuits.  I want to be focused on Kingdom service.  I do understand that in order for me to be fully effective in my ministry, I need to finish my college degree, but I never want to become too focused on getting through my college years to love people and to expand God's Kingdom.

My heart may be drawn to somewhere like Kenya in my future, but for now, I am in Texas.  Living here is no excuse.  I have been called to love and I have been called to share Christ's love.  The Gospel must be shared wherever I am.  The needy must be served wherever I am.

It hurts to leave Kenya right now; it really does.  The Lord's heart is for the needy and the broken.  To be in a place where His love and yearning for transformation can be found in the face of every person I see makes me long to step in and proclaim from the housetops, "Jesus loves you!  You have value!  You have hope!"

I do realize that people need this truth in each corner of our globe.  The Lord's love is shining.

How I yearn to be a vessel spilling out every bit of faithfulness and love I have been shown by God in my own life.  I want to be His hands and feet.

I'm not satisfied with remaining indifferent and slightly guilty as I live a life of excess while 13,000 children in Africa are dying each day from starvation.  If I am, does that not say something about my character?

If poverty breaks the heart of God, then being mildly bothered is not enough.

Father, wherever I am in this world, whether it be Africa or a suburban neighborhood in Texas, let me be your hands and feet.  Let me love with Your love.  Make me an aroma of You.

Two years ago: Q&A Day (Part I)

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