Up until 2007, my life was very neat and orderly and very well thought out. And then I met Jeremy. I come from a pretty organized family that would plan for a dinner at our home with friends at least a week in advance. Well, that’s not life now. We have moved a lot, travelled a lot, had 4 kids in a very short amount of time, and I have found myself in many situations outside of my comfort zone. And when I say that, I mean miles outside of it. There is a lot of “babe, can you make dinner for 7 extra boys tonight?” or “I got you a ticket with skymiles to go visit your mom” (I love that kind of spontaneity!). Needless to say, Jeremy and I are still perfecting our communication skills and flexibility on both sides of the relationship;)
I have, over the years, come to realize that flexibility should be on the list of missionary virtues, whether you are going for a short term trip or for life, our daily schedules must be flexible! And even in our lives in general, as Christians (missionaries or otherwise), flexibility is a must. The problem starts with me having a plan and when that plan doesn’t go “my way” there is a huge letdown because my joy is found in that perfect situation that I have created in mind and not in the perfect, holy God that I serve. We can plan and organize and prepare our hearts out, but, in the end, we need to realize that ultimately God is in control and he has a perfect plan for us. So don’t sweat the small stuff…or even the “big stuff.” God has called us to be strong and unmovable in our faith and love for Him, but I think sometimes we mistake that for no movement in any area of our lives. Just because God has called us to a certain church, ministry, job or country doesn’t mean that he won’t ever move us again.
Now, I am not saying we never plan or prepare or set goals, of course we do. That’s how things get done. Just plan for those plans to get messed up sometimes:) Jeremy and I plan to start a church in the area of Soweto in November. And this absolutely takes a lot of thought and preparation, but I need to be ready for those plans to change. Jeremy may come to me tomorrow and say “we are starting this week instead, can you be ready to teach a Sunday school lesson for 50 kids?” Now, I can choose to be joyful in this situation or not (that one is easy, all I have to think about is all those cute little faces that need to hear about Jesus). But my point is, a good attitude and a good perspective goes a long way. I have to check my attitude A LOT. After all, aren’t these little impromptu dinners and Bible studies with a bunch of teenage boys why we are here? Isn’t the whole purpose of my life to bring others to know my Savior? I think a few unexpected dinner guests and embarrassing moments teaching Sunday school in a new language is very little to ask when I think about all He has done for me.
The life of Paul is a great example for us. I don’t think Paul planned to end up in prison, but he still was able to write and encourage the Philippians (and us) that we should rejoice and that our joy might be FULL always, in every situation. God will never ask us to do something that we cannot do in His strength. I imagine that maybe this wasn’t easy for Paul to say and live out. He was writing this letter from prison, after all. He had been tortured, hungry, maybe even forgotten, and he was eventually martyred for his faith, and yet….his joy was full and overflowing. I would encourage you to read the book of Philippians (its one of my favorites!)
I don’t think I have really shared any ground breaking material here, but I hope it will be an encouragement to someone. Don’t let circumstances steal your joy! After all, these “circumstances” are the path God has chosen for us. I have seen many miserable people (and I have many times been that person) simply from a lack of flexibility, a lack of ability to find my joy in the Lord, not a situation. Life is an adventure, especially the Christian life. Embrace it and rejoice in it!