ministry

I Don't Have to Do a Thing—and Neither Do You

It’s been a while since I’ve posted—I’ve been enjoying a break from scheduled writing and posting (though I’ve still been doing some of that over at karatmag.com). Today I’m taking a “break from my break” to share a couple things that have been wrecking my life (in the best way), and I hope they encourage you! Here's what I’ve been learning.

When God speaks to us, it isn’t always because He wants us to do something.

At the beginning of the year, I spent time praying about when, where, and if I should travel. I felt the Lord was saying this would be a year that I’d get to share a country I loved (Cambodia) with others.

I was thrilled at the prospect. Sharing Cambodia is one of my favorite things—I wish everyone in the world could visit at least once! Quite quickly, I created a long list of possible travel buddies in my head.

Then life sped up. I agreed to various commitments and shouldered new responsibilities. Days sped by, then weeks and months, and suddenly I was committed to going to Cambodia on a medical mission trip—without having “recruited” a single person. I was disappointed.

Yet a couple weeks later, one person wanted to come—and then another, and another, and another. Suddenly, a group of people I knew (and some I didn’t even know!) were eager to travel to Cambodia.

It was then I remembered the other thing God had spoken to me at the beginning of the year: 

You don’t have to do a thing.

Photo by  Aki Tolentino  on  Unsplash

Photo by Aki Tolentino on Unsplash

I hadn’t connected these two phrases previously, but I was blown away when I did. I realized the Lord wasn’t kidding around when He said in John 15:15, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”

For some reason, I’d started to believe the main reason God spoke to us was because He wanted us to obey Him. When I think of the Bible, I think of instructions and commands—often within the church it’s called the “instruction manual for life.” 

Yet when I really examine the Scriptures, I find much more than instructions. I find stories, poetry, and promises—all pointing to connection. Connection with the One who created us. In fact, the majority of what I read in the Bible guides us to walk with God, not work for God.

For the first time, it dawned on me that perhaps Jesus placed that sense in my heart—the sense that this would be a year when I’d share Cambodia with others—not to instruct me but to give me something to delight in. As a friend shares exciting news with confidante, the Lord had whispered this news to me. Simply because we are friends. Simply to share His joy.

To be a servant of the Lord—this would be enough. Yet He invites us into friendship, too!

As I write, I cannot think of anything sweeter. Sometimes when He speaks, He does call us to action for and with Him. Sometimes, it’s simply for the pleasure of our company in the knowledge of His will.

That is a most beautiful thing.

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The {Missionary} Lifestyle

I used to think missionaries had a different lifestyle than "normal" people. And I thought if you moved overseas, your lifestyle would change.

Sometimes it does. Sometimes people are bolder and more focused when they move and claim the occupation of missions. Sometimes their leadership qualities come alive and they push through the fears at the edges of their comfort zones.

Sometimes it happens like that, but I'm not so sure it's supposed to anymore.

In moving from Waco to Cambodia, my lifestyle hasn’t changed much. My occupation has, but my lifestyle hasn’t. There’s been nothing “radical” about this move except for the radical love for hammocks I’m developing. As I’ve thought about this lack of change, I’ve come to a conclusion: we, the Church, are confused. We’re confused about a lot of things, but in this case we’re confused about radical lifestyles, missionaries, and what God desires.

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A Need and A Means

I have a friend who once told me about an experience she had in nursing school. A nurse she was working with for the day was caring for a patient with cancer. One of the patient’s parent’s had died from cancer, the couple had no money, and the patient wasn’t doing well physically. One nurse went down to the cafeteria and bought them chili cheese fries because the couple was craving them. Another nurse found her wallet and handed the couple a $20 bill—all the cash she had with her. Later, all she said to the student (my friend) who was with her was, “They don’t have. I do. So I give. It’s as simple as that.” In other words, “They have a need. I have the means to meet that need. So I meet it.”

It’s as simple as that.

A need.

A means to meet that need.

Action.

And the need is met.

There are many variables and a long story behind this decision, but at its core, it is a choice to follow the Lord’s calling to meet a need with the means He has provided. It is with great excitement I share with you this decision: my friend Amy and I will be moving to Cambodia for six months. She leaves in November, and I leave in January.

It is with great excitement I share this. And fear. And nervousness. And trust.

The process to move has been anything but simple. For those who have journeyed with me this past year, you know how I have struggled. How I witnessed suffering and death in the Cambodian hospital, how the trauma that happened to my heart and soul from seeing those things broke me, how I am relearning who I am and who Jesus is. This is not an easy decision to go back.

Am I scared? Yes.
Am I thrilled? Yes.
Broken and weak? Yes!

Yet the Lord says He uses the weak; He perfects His power in weakness. 

The needs in Cambodia are overwhelming: physical needs for food, clean water, clothing; system-wide needs for education, healthcare, justice; emotional needs for healing from genocide less than 50 years ago; spiritual needs for knowledge of Jesus, explanation of the Gospel, discipleship. In moving, we know our weakness, and we know we cannot meet their needs. We do not have the means. The truth is, we are just as broken as they are. 

Yet our God does have the means. He meets our needs daily, physically and mentally and emotionally and most of all, spiritually—bringing us out of spiritual poverty and reminding us that we are His. He wants to meet the Cambodians’ physical and mental and emotional and spiritual needs, too. For His love and His riches and His abilities are more overwhelming than the most overwhelming needs.

There is great need in Cambodia.

We have a God who has the means to meet all of their (and our) needs and more!

He has called us to action, to bring His name to the nations.

And their needs will be met. Not by me, not by my friend Amy, not by you, not by any missionary or NGO1 or visionary or strategist. Their needs will be met by Jesus. He is, as someone told me recently, the real power source. He is the One who transforms hearts and minds and communities and villages and systems and provinces and countries.

And believing this for Cambodia and all the world, we go.
 

I would love to share with you more about how the Lord is leading and moving! If you would like to receive updates, join us in prayer, or hear more about this journey, please let me know. I would love to chat with you!

1) NGO: non-governmental organization

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