The School of Experience

I’ve read books. I’ve studied and even went to seminary. I’ve listened to others and watched.

In the end there is no school like experience.

I’m not saying that to ignore the rest. Even Jesus spoke of the need to be like the wise man who, before building a tower, first sat down and estimated the cost. We learn so much through books, education, and the knowledge of those who’ve gone before to help us build smarter. I have benefited from those before me, for sure.

Then I lived it for myself.

What am I talking about? Life, yes, but also service, ministry, or missions—take your pick. There is nothing to add to the wisdom of our years more than real-life experience.

The question for me was: What do I do with what I learned? No longer in overseas service, moving into a new stage of life, I could have easily just let it go and move on, but God wouldn’t allow me to let go that easily.

I didn’t gain all that experience for nothing!

Not only does my experience in cross-cultural service help me navigate today’s world, but the Lord also made it clear that I was to share what I learned with others. For this reason, I’ve written the book, When Doors Close: Changing Course in Missions Without Losing Your Way. Does this mean those who read my book won’t gain from the school of experience themselves? Hardly, but it is my prayer that it will help you, as the wise man, estimate some of the costs before you go.

Maybe, you’re already in the midst of service and a certain experience has left you hurting and bitter. I’ve written for you as well. Throughout the book I encourage you to discuss various scenarios with your spouse or colleagues. Talking always helps—first, as we talk with God, bearing our souls and burdens like David did in the psalms, but also with others, who can speak into our pain and be Jesus’s hands and words of comfort.

The fear of doors closing can keep us from moving forward. If we’ve had them shut in one place, that same fear can keep us from being willing to move to another. Through this book, through my experiences and those of others I share, I am trusting the Lord to speak into your fears, for with every door that closed in my life, God proved himself present and gracious.

God is with us in wherever the road may lead—sometimes we just need to be reminded of that truth.

Your experience will be different from mine and from others in your church, your team, and even the nationals among whom you serve, but I am confident, that as the Lord has chosen to use mine to speak into the lives of others, he will will use yours to do the same.

Grace and Peace

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