Scripture Reading: Mark 8:34-35; 10:17-31
Memory Verse: Mark 8:35
Recently my spirit has been slightly discouraged when it comes to foreign missions. I am surrounded by many who, if they are not completely against missions entirely, at least are indifferent towards the notion to proclaim the name and gospel of Jesus Christ in unreached people groups. The overwhelming number of those who feel this way has started to take a toll on me in my own spiritual life. I am becoming more exhausted and frustrated in my claims of the necessity for Christ-followers to be involved in or at least concerned with foreign missions. Primarily, I am exhausted and frustrated because few around me have this same passion (my fiancé and a couple friends do have this same passion). Secondly, most church-goers around me, while they admire my desire and passion for the spread of the gospel and glory of God found in Christ Jesus, are more concerned with their own personal struggles (which are primarily monetary or minuscule in comparison with lost souls) than the evangelization of countless lost peoples among the nations.
However, despite this recent period of discouragement, God has been revealing Himself to me in my quiet time with Him. In my meditations on His Word and devotion to prayer, God has proven Himself worthy and faithful. He has most assuredly confirmed the truth in my soul that it is He that does the work and I am merely an imperfect vessel saved by grace for Him to work through. He has helped me to understand that I need not take the rejection and apathy of fellow Christians personal. Instead of basking in self-pity I must revert back to basking in the joy of reaching the unreached and discipling those around me. I was reminded of this joy found in foreign missions and the “sacrifice” that comes with it by an account written by John Paton, a missionary to the New Hebrides (Vanuatu in the South Pacific) in the late 1800’s. I came upon this account in John Piper’s book Desiring God. I pray you will be encouraged as I was and be motivated to take the gospel of Jesus Christ where it has yet to be proclaimed in light of the sacrifices that accompany it.
John Paton, after having lost his wife and child, was surrounded by hostile natives as he hid in a tree. This is his testimony of that experience and the nearness of God despite his loneliness:
I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among these chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?
Piper, concerning sacrifice and self-denial, continues:
The response of Jesus (in Mark 10:28-30) indicates that the way to think about self-denial is to deny yourself only a lesser good for a greater good. You deny yourself one mother in order to get one hundred mothers. In other words, Jesus wants us to think about sacrifice in a way that rules out self-pity. This is in fact just what the texts on self-denial teach.
Avoid self-pity when it comes to self-denial and grant yourself a greater joy and good by taking hold of true life that is found only in Jesus Christ. Be encouraged today to make disciples locally and globally as you obey the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ as we await His second coming when we will join together with the hundredfold of brothers and sisters and mothers and children that we have, by God, led to Him and forever be in perfect communion with the Father.
By His Grace,