If you have been a Christian from an early age, you may feel the binding, guilty power of never surrendering. We read John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, or Jim Elliot’s story, and commit in our minds to the Lord that we will never turn tail or throw up our hands. We look down (while not actually casting judgment, of course) on those who have said they would forsake all, but didn’t last two nights in the mission field. We say we are not of this world; we are different. We hold ourselves to a higher standard. We value tenacity and steadfastness, but have we unwittingly tapped into stubbornness and self-reliance?
It takes a unique type of person to go out onto the mission field. Most bright-eyed cross-cultural s go into their life vocation expecting hardships and trials. No thought of the American Dream. The mission field is life’s ultimate sacrifice! Offense Alert: As missionaries have we allowed ourselves to become the caricature?
Determination and steadfastness are admirable. Stubbornness and unwillingness to yield to wisdom is not. If you have been raised in the church, you may be the kind of person who believes it is important to follow through and to not be wishy-washy. Don’t mistake changes in seasons as surrender.
We are on a great journey. We are currently on the planet Earth. It is a temporal place. It’s dusty, gritty, noisy, but full of miraculous life. We are travelers with works to do. As we have our hands in the work, God may call us to new assignments somewhere else on this big round rock. When He does, it may not look like our current assignment is complete. That’s okay. One plants, another waters (1 Cor. 3:6-9), right?
Even though we consider ourselves vagabonds in these lands, we still seem to take ownership of things we don’t own. A ministry assignment can become a possession if we are not careful. A missionary task can become an identity if we wear it too tightly.
As workers on the mission field, we must learn to grip the plow firmly while still holding it loosely in our hands. Give up. Give up your right, your entitlement to a mission. It was never yours to begin with. You were never the one that could bring it to completion anyway. Perhaps the Lord will allow you to see the fulfillment of your task. Perhaps not. Either way, we are called to duty and we are not promised to see the fruits of our labor in this lifetime.
So, what if you are called to “move on”? What if you are called to surrender your time with a people or location? Upwards and onwards! What if people think you gave up or pooped out? If people falsely judge your devotion to a task, that mistake is between them and God. You are called to be obedient and not defend your orders from your Commander.
Give up, already. Just give it up. Surrender yourself to your loving God. Yield your plans and ideas to the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a part of His master plan for the world. Enjoy the ride.