I felt so guilty.
Setting up a wedding registry… it made me feel like I was kinda begging for stuff I didn’t do anything to deserve. A culturally expected cup asking for spare change from strangers. The thoughts behind that bled into a deeper reality. We might be headed back.
I spent time preparing my mind to start raising support once again… this time the mission is probably for four years… I can’t do it again.
“Jake shouldn’t we just settle down somewhere, work a 9 to 5, sink into a life where ministry is still present…”
I couldn’t even finish the sentence without knowing that the world was becoming my Nineveh…
I need to stop running.
“Starve the flesh, feed the Spirit”
Jake does a really good job of reminding me on a day to day basis that following God is not always the easy thing to do. The life of a disciple really is the best life… I believe that with everything in me, but I still have to count the cost. And it’s a weighty one. The last year has been reconstruction for Jake and I. Dwindling bank accounts from mission work and internships. Toiling away for not much in 3rd world countries. Everything from disease to heartbreak following.
Tilling the soil of the human heart is a costly agriculture project. Yet it is so worth it. To enter into that journey again is scary, but a good kind of fear. A roller coaster ride and a hard days work scary.
In a way I don’t want to raise support again. It can be exhausting, it can feel as if you work hour upon hour but since you have a huge dependence and need on others, people don’t see it as work. They see a beggar instead of an apostle who no longer fished because he needed the freedom to show Christ more and more.
Lately I have been reminded of something as I am about to enter into the most sacred covenant I could make. A life long promise between God, Jacob, and myself… We like to call it holy matrimony, an old fancy Latin phrase for marriage. I am reminded that marriage is the purest form of the image of Christ and the church we have here on earth.
Marriage is a ministry. It is similar to leaving for the mission field. A changing of home, culture, life, even language. As a girl I can watch wedding shows with joy and look on in awe and confusion as Jake builds a computer like it is his own child. It is the opposite for him. I must learn a new language, I must learn a new lifestyle, and I must accept the love that is given to me. Whether it’s through a registry or looking towards Jake as a provider, I am putting myself in a vulnerable and scary spot.
This week Jake and I had the privilege of reading through some of Torah together. As I read I saw what God commanded of the tribe of Levi. It was interesting how the economy of the tribes worked back then. They were to do the work in the temple of the Lord. They are to be pure and holy before the Lord. In order for them to do this work, they are to collect tithes from the other tribes.
Then… something clicked in the synapses of my brain with this.
As one enters a marriage they are a new ministry to the world. People are supporting them and loving them so that they can show love to the world and serve in the house of the lord.
As one enters the mission field, it is with joy that people freely invest in them so that they can also be a partaker in serving in the house of the Lord.
“We accept the love that we think we deserve.” – Stephen Chbosky
Have you ever had someone try to give you food, a compliment, a card? Something that if we ourselves gave may seem small and significant, and yet it becomes incredibly hard to accept the same thing. Gifts often say something about our value, to give a meal says, “Hey, Emily, you are worth this. You are worth a meal.” And that’s terrifying. The thought that I am worth something. I am worth the sweat, tears, and work of another human being, terrifying. We walk around daily, immortal and fallible, fallen creatures who long for something real and eternal. We feel fake, worthless, wounded. So when someone tries to give us a gift we react by deflecting it, not accepting it, or at worst trying to turn the gift into a transaction.
“My best friend gave me a new scarf, so I must give her a scarf or we are not even.”
Yet the worker is worth his wages as Jesus said long ago to the disciples. Are we not made in the image of God? Incredible, wonderful, beautiful and vibrant creatures that walk this earth? To accept a meal from someone says something about our value, of course it does, but we are made in such a powerful fashion. That image deserves to be validated, celebrated.
It is so much easier to accept our own work then our own value. Sometimes we want to believe a compliment isn’t true because it is much easier to be a lie and a sham then a glory and alive. It is much easier to accept a broken reality, then a god-given glory.
So it becomes humbling and hard to be a missionary. To be a wife. To accept the love of a husband and the community around us. As we register for gifts and raise support that still small question comes back to mind. Am I worth this? Do I deserve this? Am I a beggar or a blessing?
Life has all sorts of cultural requirements from registering wedding stuff for those of us who are getting married, to raising funds for ministry for those of us who serve God overseas. Sometimes asking for help is super humbling and uncomfortable. If it wasn’t for the extreme love of those who help us, it would be humiliating. At the end of the day it’s scary, it’s messy. We can’t guarantee if we will have hot water in our showers and a waffle maker in our kitchen. Yet at the end of the day it is strangely comforting, that others want to bless us and help us. That others see this as an investment in the kingdom of God and lives of others. That God finds us worthy of showering grace and love on us. That is so encouraging. We can’t guarantee life will be comfortable. We can guarantee though that we are serving the Lord, that we are willing to give everything, and it is the best life.
We are praying and currently working towards heading long-term to the nation of Taiwan, if you would like to support us contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feeding the Poor in Manila, the kids were so happy for a little soup
Holding Street Kids