My husband and I live in Haiti where our job is leading short-term missions teams. I love having teams down here and hearing how God is working in other’s lives and the unique ways people encounter God. Working with those who come down, experience the juxtaposition of beauty and poverty, and unplug long enough to have the sense of hearing from God, we often hear trip goers say “I feel God is calling me to Haiti” or “I now know this is what God is calling me to”. While it is exciting to see God moving in their lives and is in the work of shaping their hearts to be more like His, I hear them say these things knowing the reality is they will return home and go back to “normal life”.
But what if they truly are on to something?
What if their words hold more weight than they realize?
What if this “call” they feel is less about missions and more about God’s command to love the vulnerable?
Maybe the call isn’t to a foreign land, but to the neighbor who feels like a foreigner.
Maybe the mission trip experience is actually about realizing the things God deeply cares for.
“‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?’ declares the LORD.” – Jeremiah 22:16 (NIV)
I’ll borrow words from Jim Cymbala who articulates this idea far more eloquently than I can.
“Charles Spurgeon once said that when a jeweler shows his best diamonds, he sets them against a black velvet backdrop. The contrast of jewels against the dark velvet brings out the luster.
In the same way, God does His most stunning work where things seem hopeless. Wherever there is pain, suffering, and desperation, Jesus is. And that’s where His people belong – among those who are vulnerable, who think nobody cares. What better place for the brilliance of Christ to shine?” (“Fresh Win, Fresh Fire”, emphasis added).
Perhaps, this is the call they are hearing. Maybe what Christ is awakening them to is the truth that life lived outside the self is far greater than life lived for the self.
This is not to say that one cannot go on a short-term trip and genuinely be called by God to move to another country. But it is to say that we all should be awakened to the Biblical mandate to love the poor and broken.
And if we’re being honest, aren’t we all those deemed as poor and broken?
Aren’t we all thieves, stealing from those who have what we covet? Aren’t we all broken, limping along pretending not to notice the compound fractures in our life? Aren’t we all whores, claiming to love Jesus above all yet living with our affections set on everything besides Him? Yes. We are all of these things and more. We are murderers, adulteresses, liars and thieves, wallowing in our depravity while living in our counterfeit “perfection”, thinking ourselves too clean to touch the leper. But friends, oh dear friends, by the grace of the greatest God, we can live in freedom from all of these things that seek to claim our lives!
Jesus, in all of His glory, walked into our darkness, our filth, our brokenness, and illuminated it with His love and grace. And He did so to set the example for how we are to live our lives. As children of Light, we are to walk into others’ darkness, others’ filth, and others’ brokenness and illuminate it with the Light of Christ.
This, beloved friend, is the calling.
This is what we were created for.
How do we know we are living out this calling? Consider, whom do you surround yourself with? Do you prefer to stick close to those who maintain their façade of postcard living? Or are you willing to get more than the bottom of your shoes dirty? If we are living out this calling our lives will be tagged with the marks of a life lived in the Spirit. Those markings are listed in Galatians 5:22-23…
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…”
Have you too heard this calling? If you are a child of God then your answer should be yes, even if you currently are not living it. The good news is that in Christ it is never too late.
What are things you could remove from your schedule or to-do list that would create availability for you to seek opportunities to serve and love others better?
What are the callings you know you have heard God speak to you that you have put on the shelf, intending to revisit at a more convenient time?
How can you take the grace God extended to your poverty and use it to furnish another’s poverty?
My prayer for you as you read this is you wouldn’t ignore the call. That nudging you feel, that’s not because of some emotion these words or any mission trip high may have stirred up; that’s the touch of the Holy Spirit, asking you to give yourself. I pray you would do so. Give yourself away. Let go. I pray your eyes are opened to the depravity found in worldly gain. I pray you would seek to love others above yourself (I’ll be praying a big dose of this for myself, as well). I pray God would manufacture in you an incomprehensible desire for those broken and poor; that you would be so magnetically drawn to them and drawn to loving them. I pray you could live out of understanding the grace that was used to cover you filth and live in the freedom given by Christ.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” – Matthew 16: 25-26
Consider the lyrics to this song, “All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters