This week, I planned to blog about the theme of love, but I find that my mind is on missions instead. In two days, Golden Gate Seminary will host a weekend missions conference and it’s occupying my thoughts. I’ll be busy giving a seminar twice, doing a book signing, and writing an article about the conference afterward.
When I returned from overseas, several people commented on my sacrifice in going. At the time, I was struggling with how difficult it was to come back and adjust to life in the States. I missed my life in Eastern Europe. The idea of “sacrifice” seemed preposterous. It still does. I feel like I gained much more than I gave up.
The love missionaries have for the people, and places, where they are called is similar to the love parents have for their children. It defies explanation. It doesn’t lessen when the child refuses to listen or is downright ornery, or increase when the child behaves well or says “I love you.” It’s a God-given bond. Most parents scoff at the notion that they relinquished something to nurture their children or work hard to provide for them. It’s their duty, yes, but it’s so much more. It’s what they want to do. God planted a desire for that child’s welfare deep inside them. The parent-child connection cannot be broken by time or distance or even death. In the same way, most missionaries agree that it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to do without material comforts and to love the people God has mysteriously placed inside their hearts, even if that love isn’t returned or even appreciated. They want to do it, and their lives feel incomplete apart from their beloved. They forever belong to the people they are called to love.