Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels... There's always this conversation surrounding missions - the short trips and the long-enduring ones. Whenever you choose one area in which to labor, there are 13 million other areas that will cry out for attention and grumble with contention.
It's the same with international adoption, I've found.
What about here? What about your own community? Why spend all that time and money and energy when there are so many problems right here? Shouldn't we start at home?
But the world is not as big as I used to think it was. I can be across the globe in a day or two and you know what? The same problems exist, everywhere. Everywhere I go, there I am with my problems and the world's problems and the real problem is that we go places, or don't go places, and there's no love.
Les Catchpole was famous for his It's a Small World rendition. Famous in a small town, anyways, for the way he would pull that harmonica out at any and every community event, and how this slowing old gentleman would bring air from the depths of his being and play that tune.
It's a small world after all. It's a small, small world.
It became kind of an anthem for our little valley. We loved it and we loved him for it, even if some of us rolled our eyes with the predictability.
He's gone now and the world gets smaller everyday, like how summers seemed so long when you were a kid but now they pass in a blink. The world's problems are closer than ever.
And yes, we have our own.
And though I have the gift of prophecy...
I've thought about what our plan would be if we were missionaries to a place like here.
We could focus on marriages and families, counseling, drugs and alcohol, youth, apathy and lukewarmness in the church, crime and jail ministry...
We could keep it simple and just stick to teaching the Word of God, reading it and understanding it and applying what you learn.
Simple like that.
We might feel the need to be flashier though, to draw a crowd and hype the audience and boost the audio. We might try to be culturally sensitive that way and hope that the message stuck because the performance was good.
Whatever we did would be worthless without truth and love.
And understand all mysteries and all knowledge...
We can give solutions everywhere we go. We can know more and do more and be more and serve more, and all that can be left sometimes is weariness. Weary of soul. Weary of bone and aching muscle.
Even if the outcome is good, we can become weary of well-doing.
More classes and seminars. More money and time. More programs and prescriptions and you-should-do-things-my-way.
And though I have all faith...
I can hop on a plane once a year and go somewhere where I'm a celebrity because of my skin color and my nationality, where people listen just because, where my flesh suffers a little and my emotions come out a lot and I feel good about leaving the easy life for awhile.
I can go next door or across the globe on my own two feet and power through myriad good works, gritting my teeth and shining my light right in the eyes of brokenness and sin.
I can give in faith and go in faith and never really depend on the love that fuels my faith.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor...
Throwing money at something never gives it a beating heart.
And though I give my body to be burned...
Suffering for the sake of suffering is foolish. The fool's martyr dies on the cross of his own making and Jesus never called us to a cause - just to Himself and to giving up our own self and to love.
Wherever you are, staying or going, it's of no value if love is missing.
Our call is always to join in what God is already doing in any given place. He's equipping His church here. He's begun a good work and finishing it with the likes of us - you and me.
You work with the youth and counsel the struggling and equip the families and preach freedom to all who are captive.
You, His bride, do His work wherever you are.
You and me, His church - we keep finding towels and washing feet and we stumble, but we pull each other along.
Well done. Keep it up.
Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8