“How Has God Been Reminding You of His Presence Lately?” — Questions You Can Ask a Missionary, Part 12
Our friends (and fellow missionaries) Keith and Lori Doster recently linked to an article about stressors that missionaries face. The original article is called 12 Questions You Can Ask a Missionary to Help Them Stay on the Field. Missionaries are not unique to these stressors; however, they do face them in situations where they often feel vulnerable and lonely.
If you know any missionaries, I encourage you to support and encourage them by asking one or more of these questions (but not all 12 at once!). For the sake of our friends, supports, and blog-readers, I wanted to proactively answer these questions over the next few months. (Of course, feel free to ask us these questions personally.)
Question 12: “How has God been reminding you of His presence lately?”
Years ago, I attended a leadership conference that featured talks from famous pastors, business people, and experts. I’ll never forget the talk by General Colin Powell, in which he described an innate feature of leadership. He said,
“Leadership is a lonely place.”
At the time, I had just joined the staff of Grace Church, and I was already beginning to experience what General Powell was describing. And from my time in Allendale over the last three years, I would agree with him all that much more.
The Blessing of Experiencing Loneliness
When we first moved to Allendale, I honestly didn’t expect to feel so isolated. After all, we had plenty of friends and support from Greenville, and we had a great church and others in Allendale who were welcoming and caring for us.
But, as I wrote in The Risk and Reward of Being Out Front, even within a few months of living here, we were missing our community. I guess I expected it to be easier to develop Christ-centered community here. I know that I didn’t work hard enough at it.
Don’t get me wrong, we have some good friends here, and many who support, encourage, and appreciate our works. However, we don’t have the deep level of community that we had been used to. And Allendale can be a very isolating place, for many residents.
So, what did God teach us? More than anything, we are learning that all we need is Him. Before we work on a plan to connect to others, we must be intentional to first connect with God. If all else fails, we can be assured and satisfied that our Savior is with us.
The blessing of being out front and alone is that it strips away our idols of security and man-centered affirmation. The blessing of being alone is that it brings us to the crossroad of deciding whether or not Jesus is enough.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
And the times when I have been most discouraged and in despair, it was then that God had A Message for Me.
Despite this gospel-centered blessing, no one likes to be alone. Even an introvert like me needs some amount of interaction with others. God created us with an innate need and desire for community (Genesis 2:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
And I’m thankful for the community that we have had. This community includes leadership from Grace Church and our advisory team. It includes the men that have gotten coffee, breakfast, or lunch with me in the rare times that I’ve been in Greenville. It’s the family in Savannah that lets us crash at their home, with our loud and crazy kids. It comes when you take a(nother) trip to Allendale.
We even feel a level of community through the encouragement we get from emails, Facebook messages, notes in the mail, and blog comments (ahem…). And we feel it When You Give, and when you express your confidence in us.
So, to answer the original question, “How has God been reminding you of His presence lately?”, we are learning these three facts:
- God is with us, even though we may not recognize it every day.
- Even if all we had was God’s grace, that is sufficient.
- We experience God’s grace through your encouragements, and we are blessed to have you as part of our community.