It’s been suggested that we missionaries create a pocket sized dictionary of all the words and phrases we throw around throughout the year. It’s actually a pretty legitimate idea. There is a whole other language within the community, a language that may often mean something completely different to an objective observer. Example:
1. “I’ll pray about it.” – This common phrase among the Christian populus is usually a response to a request for a favor or a particular action.
Question: “Would you like to help serve dinner to the Young at Heart group this Friday?”
Response: “I’ll pray about it.”
Before this year, this response would typically be a euphemism for a blatant “No,” leaving the ask-er believing that we, the “ask-ee”, either have a stark prejudice against the elderly or some social plans, neither of which we want to admit to. Thus, the asker is forced to accept the farce of a “spiritually sound” rejection. Within a community of missionaries, however, this response is quite literal. We love the elderly and the wonderfully matching octogenarian married couples of the Young at Heart, we just really have to pray about it. That’s what we do.
Another word that would make these pages is the “D” word. Yep, discernment. A day spent in our community will yield anywhere between 57 and 82 uses of this word. Perhaps the most common question we get from friends and family is, “What are you doing after this missionary year ends?” Well, discernment is our present state and hopeful path towards that answer.
Honestly, I’m pretty dang excited with where I’m at in my discernment. By no means am I close to an answer, but the Lord is blessing the process and I’m stoked to see what He has in store for me.
While this excitement for my future is a blessing, the Lord pointed out a greater truth to it. My future is a gift, a beautiful, exciting gift. It’s good that I’m excited to receive this gift, yet that cannot be the entirety of my perspective. While the gift is good, my first love and excitement must be for the Giver of that gift. What makes this gift exciting is not the details of the life the Lord has in store for me, but that this life is what will lead me continuously closer to His heart. Before I desire any sort of life, I should desire simply that: to be closer to His heart. That’s where my future leads me.
Someone once told me that in a Christian’s walk with the Lord, we love Him for different reasons. We may initially love the Lord for the blessings He gives us in our life, but we must journey farther. That journey will lead some to love Him beyond the blessings of this world, and to love Him because He first loves us. We may love Him because He offers us that love and freedom from our sins. But some Christians go even further. They move beyond loving the Lord for His blessings, and beyond loving Him because He loves us, and to a place of loving Him simply for who He is. This love is not as a response to any good thing we’ve received, but simply because the Lord is good.
That’s the sort of love I want. The gift of this year in community and prayer is beautiful. The gift of my future is beautiful Recognizing these things as gifts and thanking Him for them is good, yet I don’t want them to be the sole object of my desires. I want Him, in all of His beauty to be that first desire. All of the gifts are good, but I first want to love His heart.