Way back when, when I was a teenager and new Christian, I had a crazy dream of becoming a missionary someday. I wore rose-colored glasses and saw the world as a big, jolly, fun place. A place that I would be happy to experience and where people would be warm, welcoming and understanding. A place where the people who loved you would treat you in a loving way. A place where it would be easy to obey God and act like a good Christian because, hey, I had accepted Jesus as my savior. What could go wrong?
Now I’m 31 and know better. There are many things in life that I have not experienced yet, and I’m thankful for that. However, there are many other things that I have experienced that have changed who I am and how I see the world. I’ve become more realistic, a bit more jaded, a little harder, more patient. The biggest difference is that I’m now a thoroughly broken person. I can see a lot of my own faults, which helps me to see that anything I do is not by my own merit. I’m also broken because other people and life events have broken me. This world is a scary, painful, unfair place. Losing my loved ones hurts and I can’t get over it. Betrayal by the person closest to me left me almost catatonic. The daily grind of being a wife and mother tests me to my limits and can bring out the best and the worst in me. Life is messy. I make mistakes. I have to ask for forgiveness and be willing to forgive myself and others.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m older and a littler wiser. So when I told God all those years ago that I wanted to be used for his service, I had no idea what I was asking for. What I was really asking for was a life of pain, testing, humility, self-sacrifice and cold, hard reality. It’s nothing like what I imagined it would be. There are times where everything is good, but they are far outweighed by all the other stuff. Maybe once I’ve learned a few more lessons, things won’t be quite so tough.
I am encouraged by Hebrews 12:1-13
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.“Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”