Leaving Luxury

Surprising my little brother at camp.  Hugs are one thing I miss terribly in my village home, so a month of hugs in abundance was just what my heart needed.  

Written September 16th, 2017

Tonight you could call me an Israelite.  Not the courage-exuding, faith-filled, battle-winning type.  More along the lines of the desert-wandering, ever-whining, luxury-craving kind of Israelite.

I sit here next to my Neno friend, in the nearby village we are visiting for a celebration, one we have been anticipating for over 2 months.  Yet instead of being grateful and excited to actually be here as planned, all I can think about is how uncomfortable this small piece of log is to sit on.  If one didn’t balance just right, it could easily roll back and deposit one in the dust.

Worse, my thoughts then wander to the bathroom, which is better left undescribed.  Suffice it to say that it is not as “nice” as the community bathrooms in our village, and would score very low with regards to both hygiene and practicality.  In stark contrast to my normal water-ingestion habits, I wonder what would be the smallest quantity of water that I can drink in the next 36 hours, without getting dangerously dehydrated.

But I half-heartedly try to pull my mind, which starts kicking and screaming, in an attempt to focus on what is being said from the platform, trying to piece together as much as possible from the words and phrases I understand.  Oh, it’s hard.  My brain drifts to the delicious ice cream, nachos and rye bread I ate last month, the pizza, deep-fried chicken and kielbasa we never had time to make, and the grapefruit I fully intended to buy and eat, but forgot.  Oh, that grapefruit would be so refreshing right now – cold, citric and juicy.

First meal back in the States, at Panera Bread, with Dad and Mom.  Delicious sandwiches, plenty of water, and wonderful conversation in a language I understand.  

Then I catch another couple phrases of the message…

So this must be the drudgery of missions.  To be sure, much of this life is a grand adventure – everything from trekking through the jungle to eating piranas and making new friends.  But there are moments when missions is made up of little more than scorching heat, biting bugs, self-discipline and mental focus.  There are no obvious eternal differences being made, people believing in Jesus, or even practical contributions being made to the community.

Nonetheless, this daily grind is the toil and labor necessary to become part of a new culture.  All of it is an intentional investment, a foundation to be built upon, preparation for what is to come.

Do you remember the list of questions Paul asked in Romans 10?

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?

and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?

and how shall they hear without a preacher?

and how shall they preach, except they be sent?

Considering the context of missionary work that crosses cultural-linguistic barriers, I would ask also,

And how shall they preach, unless they learn the culture and speak the language?

And how shall they learn these things unless they live them, day in and day out, until by them they are changed?

The apostle Paul didn’t deal with many language barriers, as far as I know.  He was blessed to live at a time when Greek was spoken fluently across the Roman Empire, so his knowledge of Greek and Hebrew were sufficient to preach anywhere he went.

However, in considering the cultural barriers he dealt with, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write,

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.  And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;  To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.  To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.  – 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

In our specific case, unto the Neno, we become as the Neno, that we might gain the Neno.  It is not for us, but for them, and for the gospel’s sake, and most of all for our Savior, the One who died and rose again.  Oh, that He might receive the glory of His suffering!

And oh, that I might stop whining and complaining and getting distracted by heat and other temporary inconveniences!

Father, help me to stop wanting the luxuries of last month.  It really was fun being spoiled by the way my family and others blessed me in abundance, and by our encouraging, joyful time together.  All of this was a gift from You.  But that month of comfort and ease and family time is over.  For now I’m back in another world, this wonderful place to which you brought me, to lose my life, that other reality, for your sake.  Give me the grace to choose contentment.  Teach me to make the most of every moment here, refusing to waste my life on the trivial.


Make me willing, by your grace, to leave all the comforts and luxuries and favorite foods and pleasant climate and people I love.  Granted, I’ve already left them literally, traveling by car, plane, bus, and taxi, but help me to leave it all behind again mentally too.  May I not be distracted by desires or memories of what is there, concentrating instead on the reality what is here…a language to learn, people to love, and a culture to become part of.  All of this is included in the adventure of following the one who must be the constant object of my focus – Jesus, my Master and Lord, my Joy and Prize, my All in All.


May I live out the words of Mary Dagworthy James’ hymn, especially the fourth verse:

Since mine eyes were fixed on Jesus,
I’ve lost sight of all beside—
So enchained my spirit’s vision,
Looking at the Crucified.

All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
Looking at the Crucified.
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!
Looking at the Crucified.

– All for Jesus, Mary D. James


One thought on “Leaving Luxury

  1. Marilyn Shivers

    I am thankful for your time here in Lowville, but knowing what you left and what you were returning to was ever present in your mind and heart. Yes, it was a gift. Both to you and to us. You can tell us your adventures all day long and we will take it in and be mesmerized, but to live it, few if any would choose. This has been your calling for a long time, and there is no doubt that the Lord will bring you through. The only way I can put it into a picture, is to say one day you were eating everything you wanted. You went for a test and found you were a serious diabetic and to continue to live your life, you had to change the entire way of eating. You must stop eating sugar or the things that quickly change to sugar. I know you get the picture. With the allergic reactions you suffered you had to totally change what you were doing. You needed the help of God our Father to do so, He is there for you now. He has not removed his calling in your life so He will strengthen you for the task at hand. Ponder these things. Consider what you first walked into when you arrived the very first time. Look at all He has brought you through and all that He is continuing to do. Praying for you my friend. Love, Marilyn


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s