I remember quite clearly the first time I felt foolish for being a missionary. I was driving back to Chicago from Wisconsin after our fall break from college. I didn’t know my co-passenger well; she was a friend of my aunt’s, and we were passing the time getting to know each other when the conversation rolled around to my boyfriend, David.
“So he’s going to Moody? What’s he studying?”
“He’s studying missionary aviation,” I gushed. “If we get married, we’re going to live overseas!”
There was a pause. A long pause. “Is there much money in that?”
“Well, no.” At this point, I have to admit: I actually hadn’t thought much about that before. No one had ever been anything but excited for me up until this point. I tried to follow up. “But we’ll be helping people. A lot of people.”
“I see.” There was a lot more silence after that, which gave me a lot of time to think about the houses I wouldn’t be owning and the cars I wouldn’t be driving and the corporate ladders I wouldn’t be climbing. That was the first time, but certainly not the last time, that I was made to feel like what I do is ridiculous.
And you know what? I get it. It’s not normal. But for some reason, I thought that I would feel less ridiculous once I’d been doing this for a while.
But I really don’t.
For instance, I’m home on furlough, and I’ve been reading Slow Kingdom Coming by Kent Annan. It’s good, really good. It’s speaking to some of the hurt and confusion I’ve felt on the mission field. And then I participated in a panel for Mission Connexion, and one of my fellow panel-ees (panelers? panel…authorities?) talked about how he became a missionary largely due to interacting with a missionary. One of the things I care about is helping missionaries succeed on the field, and I felt God nudging me toward starting a group for pre-missionaries at my church–and I was pumped about it.
No one has signed up.
And I don’t know exactly why I’m telling you this, except to say that if your ministry isn’t evangelizing in record numbers, or if you can’t get your clinic idea off the ground, or the kids just aren’t getting the homeschool material this year, or no one showed up to your Bible study…you’re not alone. (Well, maybe you are if it’s the Bible study thing…) Following God is going to look stupid from the outside, a lot of the time. In my opinion, that’s entirely normal.
6 Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the LORD will work for us, for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” 7 And his armor-bearer said to him, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” – 1 Samuel 14:6-7
Our pastor spoke on this verse in church today, and it just so spoke to the anxiety I’m feeling now. I thought God wanted to use me–and today, I needed the reminder that God can work through just one person. So if you’re out on a limb, sharing God’s love, and you think it’s not going great, leave the results with him. It’s okay to look ridiculous, to feel foolish, in this crazy life God’s called you to–it doesn’t mean you are. Choose what matters most, despite your feelings or the apparent circumstances. Keep choosing it. Be the best kind of fool: one who’s choosing to love God with all her heart, even when it gets broken and kicked around. If it’s in your heart, even if it’s not prayer-letter-worthy, even if you can’t get anyone else on board as a leader, just do it.
Also, that mosquito thing is for real, am I right?
You’ve got this, mamas.
P.S. Here’s the link for the group I started in case you live near Portland and haven’t heard about it and actually do want to come.