The One Question We Must Ask {A Life Overseas}

by Jonathan

It’s a simple question, carrying with it the power to clarify purpose and extend longevity. It’s a question that buttresses against the nasty cousins of burnout and bitterness. It’s a question we need to ask more often.

It’s simply this: “What is it that I really need?”

We’ve got to start asking our cross-culturally-working-selves, “In an ideal world, what is it that I really need to make it? To thrive? To be ok? To survive where God’s called me? What is it that I really need?”

Before you crucify me for turning the Gospel inside out and hamstringing it with a message about me and my needs, hear me out.

I’m not at all advocating a life without obedient sacrifice; I am expressly advocating a life of eyes-open sacrifice. You might not get what you need. In fact, I’m pretty sure you won’t. There are a lot of things you need that a life of cross-cultural service just won’t be able to provide. I’m talking about the full spectrum here, from a Starbucks latte all the way to the absence of gunfire.

And that’s where this gets real.

When you realize that some legitimate needs won’t get met, when you realize that safety and functioning utilities and access to public libraries and date night just aren’t as much a thing where you live, you can do two things. You can seek to mitigate, or you can choose to sacrifice. In reality, I actually recommend both.

Mitigate it: Consider whether there are any creative workarounds that might meet the need, in whole or in part.

Sacrifice it: Obediently, with a full heart and open eyes, sacrifice the thing as a holy act of worship.

Continue reading over at A Life Overseas

Bleeding for Dust Like Us

by Elizabeth

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I worked at a Christian summer camp when I was a teenager. We attended Hymn Sing every morning, and at the end of every Hymn Sing we wandered off to our Bible classes while singing these words from Fanny Crosby: “Tell me the story of Jesus, write on my heart every word. Tell me the story most precious, sweetest that ever was heard.”

I didn’t realize at the time just how central that prayer-song is to our Christian walk. For what is theology but the stories we tell ourselves about God? So we cry: Tell me the story of Jesus. Tell me the story of a God-become-flesh, a God-who-dwells-among. Tell me the story of a God who sacrifices of self, who pours out His life-blood for dust like us.

Tell me the story of a God who sets captives free and makes blind people see. Tell me the story that never gets old or grows stale. Tell me the story that revives my weary soul, the story that brings new life to all. Tell me the same story I’ve been hearing for thirty years, the same story people have been telling for two thousand years: Tell me the story of Jesus.

I love this story. Truly I do. It doesn’t matter how many times I hear the story, I can’t get enough of it. And it never gets old. But. Sometimes I forget. And sometimes I need a reminder. Last month my reminder came in the form of C.S. Lewis’s children’s novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. For when I read it with my children, I read words like these:

“Please – Aslan,” said Lucy, “can anything be done to save Edmund?”
“All shall be done,” said Aslan, “but it may be harder than you think.”

As I spoke those words out loud, I remembered the greatest Story ever told: the enormity of Jesus’ sacrifice, the enormity of my need for that sacrifice, the enormity of Jesus’ love for all of humanity. Believe me, I needed the reminder.

Glennon Melton has said that “Grace cannot be personal if it is not universal.” If grace is for me, then it’s for you. And if it’s for you, then it’s also for me. This is a truth about grace that I sometimes forget. Sometimes I need reminding of the personal, and sometimes I need reminding of the universal. Last month I needed reminding of both, and I found them both in the pages of an ageless children’s story.

This week the global Church is preparing for Easter. We’re on a collective journey toward the Cross and toward the Resurrection that follows. As we journey, let us remember the truths immortalized in the Apostles’ Creed. They are the core, the crux, the fundamentals of our faith. They are the words we must remember when we begin to forget. And they are the words I leave you with today.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.

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When you forget the Story, what helps you remember??

(Originally published at Velvet Ashes.)