In July of 2014 I wrote:
When the crowd moves on to the next Beginning and the next … and so many “New Beginnings” (that so seldom work out as first anticipated and, sadly, are often abandoned by their most earnest propagators) … may my colleagues then fix their eyes on Jesus and still run with perseverance the race that they have so recently begun.
Until it yields the true glory of a race well-finished!
Last week the Elliots and company talked a lot about what happens to brilliant New Beginnings when the missionaries run out of steam. Daughter # 1 feels passionately on the subject. So do we all.
And so today I’m approaching (though perhaps not arriving at) a blog post that I’ve been working up to for many, many months. What happened to us?
In the same 2014 blog post I wrote: Of course, other things would come bubbling up… Worldly, unworthy thoughts and yet, truly my thoughts. “They get 4 workers (2 singles and a couple) for their team. Why can’t we have 1 or (too wonderful!) 2 workers? They get this infusion of workers (6 in one church) for a ‘jump start.’ Why can’t we have workers for a ‘jump finish?!’”
I felt these things. There was a faint dissatisfaction with the missional status quo. A sense of unfairness. But after all, as we’d always told our children, “Life isn’t fair, Princess!”
And more importantly, I had begun to see God’s Sovereignty in mission in a different light – I had finally stopped striving.
I was well aware that my husband had not. But I did not realize the depth of his feeling. In his own words (from the a talk he gave on “Deadly Bitterness” at a Men’s Breakfast this last February):
I realized I was angry- very, very angry, and had been for some time. I was resentful and bitter, feeling that the work I had done for almost 30 years was being brushed off as not important enough to warrant personnel to continue it. Please understand that this is not just an unsupported notion of mine. An OMF director, in response to my appeal for someone to replace me when I retired, said to me, “Maybe you have to see this church differently. Maybe God just wanted it here for a time, and it has fulfilled it’s purpose already.” During a series of council meetings, the same person also said to me one day, “We don’t have anyone to send to that situation (Ajigasawa).” And the next day, speaking of another place, a new church plant, said “I would send two couples there!”
It is hard to explain just how deeply this affected me. The sense of rejection, of futility, of voicelessness, was profound.
Is there a story someone in your life tells again and again despite your greatest efforts to suppress the telling – yet again?!
For my husband it was the story of those council meetings where he was told we got no one but our colleague deserved two!
He told me when it happened. And he told me when he got home. And he told everyone in the house – there were a lot of people in the house. And I tried to shut him up because to me it just sounded like bitterness toward our colleague.
But he kept telling the story. I must have heard that story every week, sometimes every day and sometimes three times in the same conversation if he was talking to someone who would listen.
But I didn’t get it. I didn’t sense his deep pain.
And he kept telling that story.
Until last November. By God’s grace when I turned to the woman behind me after church one Sunday we fell into conversation. As the conversation progressed it developed that she was medical Doctor, had been a family doctor but now specialized in psychotherapy and worked specifically with burnt (and burnt out) Christian workers.
She listened to us. And she prayed with us - through our pains and through our sins. And it really made a difference. A big difference.
My husband doesn’t tell that story anymore. Well, almost never.
God has healed the hurt.
And through His servant, God has given us hope. We’re not finished yet!
In 2014 I wrote:
Truly we are “unfinished people with unfinished work in unfinished times.”
May He keep us from sinking, from ceasing, from wasting!
And now I know that He will keep us!