love in the time of war is not fair...
~ Norah Jones
Last night was the final class this year’s Perspectives course. This was actually the second time I took the course, having enrolled for the first time last Spring. While attending a presentation for Bridge to Rwanda with my friend Cari, back in the states for a spell before returning to her work in Uganda, we were cornered by our local Perspectives coordinator, Charlie (one of the nicest… and most persuasive… guys you’ll ever meet). Charlie quickly discovered that Cari had never taken the course (which began the next evening) and swiftly devised a plan to enroll her. A few phone calls and nudges later, Cari was enrolled, and I had agreed to return as an alumnus.
I am so glad that I took the course again.
If you have never heard of Perspectives, let me be the first to tell you, you need to take it.
If you’re tired of hearing about Perspectives, but still haven’t stepped a foot in the door, let me be one in the line of many to annoy you - you need to take it.
Yes, it is a time commitment: 17 weeks of 3 hour classes, and enough reading to make your head spin.
Yes, it is a life commitment: a commonly heard phrase is, it will ruin you for the ordinary.
Yes, it is worth it.
I kind of ended up in missions by accident.
I looked up one day, and realized all of my friends were either out in the field, or trying to get there.
Next thing I knew, I was a sender.
The first time I took the Perspectives course I did a lot more of the reading. This time I did a lot more listening. I recall, specifically, two articles by Dr. Ralph Winter and his wife Roberta that I found and devoured from the US Center for World Mission’s website.
Dr. Winter’s Commitment to a Wartime Lifestyle, and Roberta’s The Non-Essentials of Life, were life-altering articles for me. Pieces started to fit into place, from my attachment to Matthew 6 as an early follower of Christ, to my first encounter over ten years ago with John Perkins’ “3 R’s of Christian community development”, to watching friends sell off everything they own to go where the Lord was leading them.
The Lord wasn’t calling me to go (though, I stand aware that He has the option to do so at any time).
He was calling me to stay.
But He wasn’t calling me to get comfortable.
Staying didn’t mean living like nothing was going on in the world around me.
Staying didn’t mean storing up treasures and building a pretty little life.
Staying meant living simply and below my means, paying off debt, discerning wants from needs, in order that I may be more able to give to those who were going to the ends of the earth.
Staying meant identifying my giftings and allowing them to be used for the Kingdom.
Staying meant allowing God to mold the dreams He had already placed in my heart to be used by Him to love and serve others.
Staying meant clinging to the vine, allowing myself to be pruned, making mistakes, learning from them, growing and never settling.
Staying is tougher than I thought it was going to be.
I am still learning.
I am still shedding.
I am still listening and discerning and being challenged.
And it’s exciting… and weird… and good.
For better or for worse, it is my life.
It is His life… when I release control to Him.