While meditating about our recent mission trip to Mexico and all the people we met or places we visited, a voice that troubled and haunted me kept going through my mind. This voice kept asking me - "Do you love me?" Like Peter's quick, brash, and foolish reply or Curly Howard's well- known whimsical remark, I thought to myself - Soitenly!!!
However, as I thought about that question, I asked myself if I could or would be able to leave my comfortable life and go to a country where all the luxuries and conveniences of modern living were taken away from me to serve Jesus and people who are in desperate need of him. I immediately thought of Jonah being told to go to Nineveh to preach to the Assyrians. My reply would probably be like King Arthur's command in the movie Monte Python and the Holy Grail - Run away, run away!
I suppose there comes a time in all of our lives when we seriously confront the question of do we truly love Jesus with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. We all like to think that we could give everything up and go to wherever he would send us, but could we really?
After spending one week in Mexico, I know that I could not answer that question in the assured affirmative. One week of living in a different country, speaking a language I don't know, eating the same food daily, dealing with bugs and sanitary conditions that leave much to be desired, or just continually experiencing the hopelessness of a poor life can be stomached for a week, but for a lifetime is definitely a different story.
I definitely came back from Mexico with a greater sense of appreciation for those who are "full-time" missionaries or pastors in these lands. People who have left homes, families, careers, and modern day comforts to take the Gospel to people in need of the Good News. People who have truly left all to follow Jesus.
God hasn't called many of us to go to a foreign nation to serve him long-term, but we can serve Him right were we live and work now. We can reach out to our neighbors, coworkers, family, friends, and - yes - even strangers right here is the good ole' U. S. of A. with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. Even in the midst of our abundance and ease, there are many people disillusioned with life and its empty promises. We can and do make a difference when we use our giftings and abilities for the kingdom of God.
... Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain...We probably can never know how much we truly love Jesus until the proverbial rubber meets the road of life and its trying circumstances. "Do you love me?" will always be a question that will haunt me in my life as a believer. I may not have a realistic answer to that question right now, but I sure hope, if the time comes, I could answer with an unswerving "Soitenly!" and back up my profession.
May God give us all the strength to stand strong no matter where he calls us to serve, and may we also long to proclaim our "Soitenly!" in conviction and truth!
Stay holy, my friends!
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Readers - I'd love to hear your comments! - Pastor Don