I got a message this week from a friend who was so excited. She has a trip planned to come back to the States in the Spring! After missing her planned furlough in 2020 due to COVID, having COVID, and just living under the stress of doing missions in a pandemic, she has every reason to be excited. There’s a question that comes to mind, though, as I reflect on her news:
How do you keep focused on ministry when your mind is leaving on an airplane?
Only people as old as I am will get the reference to a great song, but it fit. I’ve been there, especially as stress levels increased on the field, body and mind were worn out, and all I could think about was a Big Mac or Sonic tots. I no longer enjoyed being “here” when I wanted to be “there.” What’s to be done?
Give it to the Lord.
I know, that sounds simplistic and spiritual, but if we don’t start there for any of our struggles in this life, then we can end up in a bad place emotionally, intellectually, and ultimately spiritually. Besides, Jesus understands our problems. He knew what it was like to get tired and sit by a well, while his disciples went on into town for food. He had his moments, when he had to escape the crowds and get away to a quiet place to be alone and pray. He gets it, and he understands our weaknesses — we’re not Jesus; we just aim to be more like him.
So, as you prepare for travel that seems like lightyears away, ask the Lord:
- to help your mind to remain focused on the task at hand.
- to help you to live with purpose before the parting.
- to help you strive to leave on a positive note, with some obtainable goals accomplished.
The weeks and months will go quickly, so don’t lose the opportunity to “work while it is still day.”* Jesus didn’t have an entire career on the field, only a short three years. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to focus on his task of proclaiming the kingdom, healing the sick, and training up his disciples to take over, all the while knowing that a cross was around the corner.
Actually, we don’t know that we have an entire career ahead either, so maybe we can learn from his three-year ministry, by living every day in complete obedience to the Father. You may be preparing for furlough, with the plan of return, but who knows if you will? Why waste these few days longing for your earthly home and miss the opportunity of sharing the promise of our eternal home with those to whom you were called?
What’s a few more visits? Another Bible study? A prayer walk in your city?
Who is that one person who needs to hear before you go?
Our challenge as cross-cultural workers, as Christians wherever we are, is to not let future plans take our sight away from present ministry opportunities.
As many are anxiously awaiting an open door to fly home during the pandemic, let’s pray for each other to remain faithful each day prior to take-off….and every day after.
Are you leaving on an airplane soon? Don’t take off before it does.
Grace and Peace