I read a quote from John Piper this week, one of my favorite authors and teachers. The quote said:
missionaries, Jesus says, "i promise to work for and be
for you so much
that you will not be able to speak of having
And I had to "AMEN" out loud, share it on my facebook and do a little research to make sure Dr. Piper actually said it in the first place.
I have not read anything I've so staunchly agreed with like this, aside from the Bible itself, for a long time.
It made me ask myself "WHERE IS THE RADICAL?".
I remember having a giggly, girly type conversation with my BFF, Thea once. We talked about how "radical" some people think big families are or families who adopt older children. We agreed together that neither of us - her with her zillion kids and me with my multiple adoptions- felt very "radical". Only blessed and hungry for more. We thought maybe we weren't doing it right.
Many of you have read the book to which I am referring. "Radical" is a Christan best seller in which Dr. David Platt encourages Believers not to buy into the American dream of safety, comfort and material wealth while the rest of the world lives in poverty and often without Christ. That book was a game changer for my husband and I. It was the impetus to adopting our then 15 year old son.
It was the catalyst to us increasing our financial giving, getting out of debt and it's what helped solidify our already wet-cement plans to sell our worldly goods in exchange for a life serving in The Philippines. God used that book to help us shore up and rebuild some simmering-below-the-surface truth that needed to be turned up to a full boil.
So here I sit, typing away in The Philippines with seven children, a growing ministry to special needs orphans, thousands of miles from my parents, siblings and closest friends and I ask the question again:
WHERE IS THE "RADICAL"?
One issue the book did not address and I made some huge assumptions about was the PAIN that would be involved in exchanging our former life for this new one.
I expected it to hurt. A lot.
We don't own anything in America anymore. No car. No house. Not even a bicycle or a tent. I've always enjoyed my "stuff" and I truly expected the selling off part to hurt more. I had a hard day after the yard sale because reality came full force. It's kind of like that decision to cut your long hair short. After the first big "CHOP", there's a secondary panic. I had that.
And then it went away as fast as it came.
The work here is hard. It's hot. It's paperwork-intensive. Our finances are dwindling. I've had intestinal parasites. I don't know how to drive here so I'm utterly dependent on my husband. We've had many typhoons. The traffic is brutal.
Let's see . . . any more complaints? Oh yes, we've had things stolen from us and I never get time alone. The bugs here are huge. The geckos in my house are pink, rubbery and dart out close to you when you least expect it. One of my kids is getting over impetigo even as I type.
I think that's all.
No . .. wait . . . there's no toilet paper in public places here and no rims on the seats. There is no dollar store. No Aldi.
There. That about covers it!
But even so . . . the JOY of serving the children in our care overrides the BUMMER of the facts I just listed.
WHERE IS THE "RADICAL"?
I think I had it all wrong. Radical living doesn't hurt. It produces abundance, a closer walk with my savior, an inter-dependence on my family and a life filled with purpose and clear direction.
It has hard parts and draw backs. It has down sides and "if onlys" . That's not the same as the agony I expected.
This isn't MARTYRDOM, it's privilege. A high honor and a GIFT that I don't feel deserving of.
Please don't think for one second my attitude toward this life on the mission field has anything to do with ME.
I am NOT awesome!
I am NOT super patient!
I am NOT 'outdoorsy" or a "risk taker"!
I like to lay in bed with a chocolate bar and a good book just like the next girl.
I do that here sometimes. The chocolate here is really good.
But as I ask, actually BEG, my Heavenly Father to take my heart and mind and place it in submission to Him, things look a lot different.
And I started poking around in God's word for some information on why I'm not struggling more.
Of course, I started with Paul. He really suffered for the sake of the gospel! Beatings, imprisonment, exile,
abandonment by some who claimed to be for him . . . and here's is what he said:
11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I
know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every
circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
And THIS from a man who had issues bigger than bad traffic and rubbery geckos!
Another lesson learned. Another misconception righted.
"Radical" is not synonymous with "painful", "torturous" or "being turned inside out".
THOSE things were at their peak before we ever left US soil. The prying from our clenched fists has been a lifetime in
the making. One. Finger. At. A. Time. YEARS. Refined by adopting. Polished by hard things. Molded by jumping off the cliff and praying the Catcher really DID say "jump".
In the thesaurus of my ever-learning heart, "Radical" is followed by "rising above", "contentment", "ultimate purpose"
and "unmatched peace".
Maybe in a year, things will be hard and awful. Maybe I'll get to wear a martyr's crown and can, in complete truth, cry rivers of self pity. Maybe I'll be packing my family and going back to my first country.
Whatever He says, I pray I will do. Wherever He sends, I pray I will go.
There is a RADICAL JOY in RADICAL living!