Several times over the past year and a half, I’ve heard many people say, “You don’t have to give up your whole life to be a missionary.” It is usually said in reference to the idea that we have to be missionaries in our daily lives, that you can be a missionary wherever you are, whether that’s in a school, or in a workplace, or at the grocery store. This is true. We can be missionaries wherever we are, no matter what our age, or title in life. However, I think it is a lie to believe that we do not have to give up our whole lives in order to be missionary! We absolutely do!
I’ve been thinking about surrender a lot this week. The other morning in holy hour, I read this scripture in Luke 20. It’s talking about paying taxes. Jesus’ response to the people in verse 25 is, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” I started thinking about this. Okay, so taxes belong to Caesar, but what belongs to God? What are we supposed to repay to God? Well. Prepare yourselves because the answer overwhelmed me a little bit.
Our whole lives belong to God because He created us. All of our possessions, He gave to us. Every single breath belongs to God. Every single word we speak belongs to Him, along with every single one of our relationships, every single one of our actions, even our reputation. And of course, our whole entire heart belongs to the Lord, not just a piece of it, including all of our desires, all of our dreams, all of our worries.
I know. That’s a lot. So Caesar gets our taxes. But what the Lord requires of us is our whole lives: everything, every moment, every word, and every breath. No wonder He’s willing to give up our taxes. He wins out in the end anyway.
It takes sacrifice in order to truly live as the missionaries that we are called to be by our baptism. No we don’t have to have the official title of “missionary”, but we must give up our whole lives to the Lord. The biggest thing I can think of is the comfort of our reputations. Are we willing to be radical in a way that makes people turn their heads and wonder if we are a little crazy? Especially in daily life: in school, at work, or with our families. Or there’s also our physical comfort. Are we willing to give up a little sleep, so that we can have time to pray in the mornings? Are you willing to give up everything that you are and everything that you desire, all of the normal aspects of your life, in order to spread the Gospel? As Christians, we are not called to be normal. We are called to be radical.
So do we have to give up our whole lives in order to be missionaries? Yes. Absolutely yes. I know that I myself am not there yet. An important realization in this for me has been that I can physically be a missionary, but not have given up my whole life. I am physically living my life serving Christ and the Church, but have not truly surrendered everything that I am and everything that I desire. This is a daily journey.
For the past couple of months, I have been struggling to really connect with the Lord in holy hour. I’ve found myself reading or just sitting with the Lord, but my prayer time has not been something where I allow my heart to be changed. This morning as I was praying, I realized that I should leave every holy hour with a deeper surrender to His will, and with a deeper trust in His love. Every day, He requires more of me. Every day my surrender has to go deeper. Am I truly willing to give up my whole life? Am I willing to give up my ideas of the kind of Christian that I want to be? Am I willing to give up my ideas of the kind of missionary that I want to be, the plans that I have for my own life? Am I willing to give up my desires for consistency? If the Lord were to require it of me, would I be willing to go get a job in the corporate world and be a missionary there? Am I willing to give up my anxieties and worries, even when worrying makes me feel safer?
I’m learning that surrender is never finished, and that my life is never supposed to be easy. Comforting, huh?