I would LOVE to write an end of the year update that sounds something like this:
"20 people came to know the Lord, 2 communities were taken out of abject poverty, and 200 children were saved from disease through God working in my ministry this year."
I would love to say I had a hand in things like that. That I shared the Gospel with people who have never heard the good news, planted churches, relieved people's felt needs, empowered the poor...
Unfortunately, my update might sound much more self-centered. Because the fruit of my ministry (YOUR ministry as you partner with me) seems distant to me... at times invisible. My end of the year report is not about living in a foreign country or working directly with the lost. It is about something that seems entirely different. But yet, as God is showing me more of His purposes, actually is the same thing...
Last week my pastor told us the story of a king who was tired of his castles, wars, power. He asked the local monastery if he could instead live with them, forsaking everything he had. One of the monks told the king that their life was one of obedience to God, to which the king promptly responded, "yes, that is the life I want!" The monk replied, "Then go. God has asked you to be a king, return and be obedient to that calling."
I was instantly struck by the desire of this king to be obedient... somewhere other than where he was called to be. Sound familiar? It did to me. All year I have asked God, "Why am I here? Why the States? Why a job where I am on my computer all the time? Where are the interactions with people?"
And that is what makes this update the same as my updates from Mexico, or any update I could give from another ministry. Obedience. It doesn't really matter where I am, or what I am doing. It doesn't matter if I can see the fruit of my labor or if only God can. Because when I am obedient to God's calling, then I am fulfilling my place in His grand plan, and that is the best kind of success.
So, what have I seen in this process of obedience? That God is REALLY working on me, I mean really. I feel that this year has consisted of Him chunking off parts of me that were unsightly or unChristlike and smoothing out my rough edges. I feel like I may have started out the year looking like this:
Maybe He is refining me for something harder down the road. Helping me see how to love people now so the people that need His love even more will be easier to share it with. I sense I wouldn't succeed in the harder places of missionary life without this refining first.
So, as I sit behind my computer once again, I don't have much to show you. Maybe I could show you some website content that impacted people, and few videos that spoke to someone, new designs around the office that brightened someone's day, pages of edited workbooks that will be used in churches around the country. Electronic based ministry is hard to pinpoint. But I COULD show you my journal, my prayers, my God moments. There is a lot to be seen there. Maybe something you can learn from. That would be nice!