"You can never really know the Scriptures until you're willing to be changed by them." -The Heavenly Man (pg. 297)
"The Great Commission has not changed. There are many churches trying to create a heaven here on earth, but until the Western church obeys the Great Commission and takes the gospel to the ends of the earth, people are just playing with God and are not really serious about the truth. Many churches look beautiful on the outside, but are dead where it counts, on the inside. If you truly want to see God move, the two main things you must do is learn the Word of God and have the obedience to do what God tells you to do." - The Heavenly Man (pg. 298-299)
I've been tempted to quote the entire book, but instead chose just a snip-it that has especially convicted me. This book has spoken to me in ways I didn't think possible. Stories such as Brother Yun's are not unfamiliar to me, but God has used this particular story to convict me and challenge me to the core of my being. I am almost hesitant to go on publicly, because if I were to end this chapter of my life unchanged, it would now be evident to any I share it with. But I type on because God is faithful, when we grab on to him, he never leaves us unchanged. And hopefully in my failures, which are bound to be many, God's strength and mercy will be evident.
As I read this book, I felt the ache in my heart grow stronger. I grew up as a missionary kid, mostly in China. To this day I think the longest I have ever lived in one place is two years (which feels like a very long time). If we were not moving to another city or country, it was at least another part of a city. When I was young I swore to myself that I would never do what my parents did. I would give my kids a "normal" life filled with stability, and definitely in America. I idolized America. My American friends had the same friends for years at a time, they knew who Leonardo DiCaprio was, they went to school, they got new clothes, they even fit in. These were foreign concepts to me and very attractive. When I was 16 something changed in my heart. I honestly cannot remember most of the details, but I suddenly longed to continue in missions for the rest of my life. When I turned 18 and began preparations to return to the US for college, I found that my heart was suddenly afraid of that "normal" life I sought after for so many years.
The Great Commission is not a difficult calling for me to grasp. I have idolized missions for many years and assumed it was only a matter of weeks, months, or only possibly a few years before I would be called to join my brothers and sisters overseas in winning lost souls for Christ. Exotic places, tribulation, and adventure were in store for me, this I was sure of. I was convinced that my upbringing was a clearly set up to prepare me completely for the mission field. Well, six years have passed since I used that one-way airline ticket to start my life as an adult in the States. I have been to Asia once since then, and was severely humbled by the experience more than anything. The last few years of distractedly and agitatedly waiting on God, I have learned many things. Things I continue to learn over and over again. But mostly it comes down to, I am not worthy. Too many times I have tried to take the great commission in my hands and claim it for my own. Don't worry God I've got this, you can count on me. Only for him to humble me yet again and remind me what the great commission is. I hear him asking me, Are the souls in Asia and Africa more precious to you than those who live next door? How can you share my heart, when you do not even know me? I had decided to accept the great commission, but chose to down play the calling to know God's Word and truly be changed by him.
I do not know what the future holds. I think God has placed a love for hurting nations on my heart for a reason, but I do not want to ignore where he has me right now. As of now the only thing he has clearly commanded me to do is to seek him, encouraging me that he will lead. He has proven himself faithful again and again, but still this is difficult. It takes me out of the spotlight. I find myself relating to Brother Yun when he was in prison. Not in the sense that I am suffering greatly, in most aspects my life is quite the opposite of Brother Yun's, and my faith much, much smaller. But several times when he was imprisoned he first felt despaired and even angry that his work was interrupted, how was he supposed to "go to the West and the South" as God had commanded him in the first place? However it was never long before God revealed what he brought Yun to prison for. To reunite his soul to Christ, and to share God's truth with his fellow prisoners. The way God humbled Brother Yun and drew him close while in prison spoke louder than any words he could of shared himself. God's ways are not our ways. No wonder God rarely gives us more of a glimpse or an inkling as to what our future holds, because we try to take control and reach the destination the way we see fit. I often have to remind myself, I cannot teach myself and especially not others what I have yet to learn. We will find ourselves places we never expected to be and it is in those places God teaches us to rely on him. In choosing to do so, God reveals himself greatly.