Tuesday, February 28, 2012

So you want to see what missionary life is like, eh?

This blog site, and this blog specifically, would never be written by a Senegalese.  The Senegalese tend to be surfacey (?) and not always open up very easily.  They say things are OK even if they are not.  To them, it's impolite.  To me, it's inauthentic.  I just can't personally do it.  I don't like putting up a facade when things aren't going well.  I guess when it comes down to it I'm a soft, mushy Westerner.

Let me just drop the bomb:  I found out on Monday morning right before school that my Grandma Ruth (on my dad's side) passed away.  I got wind of her deteriorating condition on Sunday evening and it didn't sound good.  She would probably pass that night.  I fervently prayed against it.  I selfishly wanted to see her again, hug her small frame just once more, and see her smile...just once more.  That wasn't meant to be.  It's been a tough pill to swallow.

Don't get me wrong, I know death is a fact of life.  On top of that, I know she lived a good life...a very good life.  She was the typical Midwestern farm workhorse that put in a good day's work outside (and then some) and cooked well and looked after her own very, very well.  She was morally impeccable.  A woman of her word that couldn't fathom somebody saying they were going to do something and not doing it.  That type of behavior just wasn't on her radar screen.   And her death was a beautiful thing...she had her 2 loving sons at her bedside as she peacefully passed in the night...asleep.  If only all of us could be so lucky.  I could (and maybe should) be celebrating her life.  And I am to a certain degree.  She was a wonderful woman.

But something inside me stirs.  I never heard her mention the name of Jesus once, nor think she believed in Jesus at all and knew Him as her Lord and Savior.  She lived a good life.  She was a good person.  But I am unsettled.  I don't think "goodness" is sufficient.  Jesus said there is no way to the Father except through Him.  I believe that.  And I don't believe that is restrictive.  To me, the door is wide open to all who want to walk through it, and I also believe God willfully allows us to accept or reject that passageway of Christ.  That is what stirs me.  Don't get me wrong, I don't know where she is at.  She may be in our Creator's loving arms.  I don't know.  Thank goodness it's not my job.  Somebody has tried to console me saying, "God has got to love her."  And I believe that, too.  God loved my grandma so much He gave her all her gifts, talents, abilties, blessing her with a good family that had very good means.  And above all, He gave her Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross as payment for her sins.  All she had to do was believe.  Not just be good.  Being "good" is not good enough when you're looking at a holy God.

I don't know?  Maybe it's different...but this is what I can gather from God's written word He gave to us (John 14:6 and Matthew 7:13-23 stick out in my head).  I'd like to believe otherwise.  Maybe C.S. Lewis is on to something in "The Great Divorce" and that is a better picture of heaven/hell than "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (whatever that means) and singing songs all day.  Maybe Rob Bell is right with "Love Wins" and God would not allow one of His creations to choose against Him and He will overpower every person with His love.  I don't know.  It's tough to deal with.  I can tell you that.  And I do believe in a loving, merciful God.  But He is a God of justice as well.  We must hold them in tension.  And we must search out God's word to see what it says, not just what makes us comfortable. 

Something that does console me is the fact that I loved them enough to have a tough talk with both my Grandma Ruth and Uncle James close to 6 years ago.  It wasn't easy, but I at least wanted to shoot them straight, and tell them what I believed was true....telling them the gospel and the necessity of Jesus.  I am not certain what kind of soil that seed fell on.  Maybe it was received and personalized and believed.  I don't know.  And for all of the people reading this, I would encourage you to have those conversations with loved ones.  They are hard.  It may not always be comfortable.  But in my case, I think both my grandma and uncle knew that it came from a loving heart and they respected that.  I respect them both greatly.  I realize it more now that I am away.

So...we wanted to see how missionary life is here in Africa during the year while we're here.  We're finding out:  It's tough.  Unbelievably tough.  The cross can sometimes be too heavy for me to carry.  One of my goals was to deepen my dependency and prayer life.  Well, I guess you get what you pray for...at least I did in this case.  The missionaries that I have talked to say losing loved ones is one of the toughest things about being away from home.  I would wholeheartedly agree.  Unfortunately.

Now...I don't write this for sympathy or anything like that.  I write this to encourage.  To light a fire maybe.  Tough conversations are good.  Please have them...in a gentle...respectful ...and always loving way!  Thank you for your prayers


1 comment:

jan said...

Our pastor's wife passed on last week and I went to the funeral today. Amazing woman, great prayer warrior, and like 17 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren and 1 gggrandchild--she had a tremdndous influence. Made me think about my own mom who, at 92, is always saying how much she prays for us. After today, especially, I am thinking what a blessing that she does pray for us and without those prayers for me and my family, I cannot imagine where we would be. Anyway, I do hope that God will bring comfort to you and peace and thank you for sharing a very powerful message.