"For you must give up your own right if you would discharge your duty: a regard to your own interests must not be put in preference to Christ’s glory, or even placed upon a level with it. Whithersoever Christ calls you, you must go promptly, leaving off all other things. Your calling ought to be regarded by you in such a way, that you shall turn away all your powers of perception from everything that would impede you. It might be in your power to live elsewhere in greater opulence, but God has bound you to the Church, which affords you but a very moderate sustenance: you might elsewhere have more honor, but God has assigned you a situation, in which you live in a humble style: you might have elsewhere a more salubrious sky, or a more delightful region, but it is here that your station is appointed. You might wish to have to do with a more humane people: you feel offended with their ingratitude, or barbarity, or pride; in short, you have no sympathy with the disposition or the manners of the nation in which you are, but you must struggle with yourself, and do violence in a manner to opposing inclinations, that you may keep by the trade you have got; for you are not free, or at your own disposal. In fine, forget yourself, if you would serve God.' --John Calvin
I have to admit, we've had a hard summer and it's turning into an exhausting fall. Somewhere between malaria, pneumonia and typhoid, somewhere between water outages and broken vehicles, somewhere between a dearly loved young person stealing from us and dearly loved friends moving away, we had to find Jesus in it all. We had to. We can live a crazy radical missionary life all we want, but if we don't see Jesus in the very middle of it, we are the most to be pitied.
It is because we see him...his glory, our heavenly reality, the joy that he wants for us...that all the mess of life begins to hold such great value. All of the struggle is worth it, if one soul is saved, if one child hears about Christ, if one person is saved from physical death because we are here to act in mercy and reflect our merciful God. Years ago, we had a friend, one who had spent many many hours around our table talking about Christ, kill himself. It was tragic. At his funeral, we were given roses to lay on his casket as we left, as if it would somehow provide a bit of closure. For me, it only served to open my heart, as I told the Lord in that moment that I would never fear the many struggling people that he would bring to me...that I would seek to look for Him in those moments...because it truly is a matter of life and death.
And so we steady the course. We push up our sleeves. We dig back in. We open our gate...and our hearts. We share our God-sized story with others. Because once we see Christ in the mess of life, we are no longer free to walk as those who are blinded to the truth. And when things get hard...as they are sure to do... we do violence to any inclination that would keep us from going where God goes, staying where God stays, doing what Christ would have us to do.
And the Christ we serve is so amazing. Because not only do we see him in our heavenly-bliss-producing-good-news, but we see him in an amazing day-by-day grace. We see him in the medical treatment, we see him in the provision of dear friends to help us deal with no water, we see him in the provision of a new van, we see him in the deafening thunder that rattled our house as we prayed with our young friend to find forgiveness in Christ.
Christ is worth it. I want to see him. Will you join me?