I’m scheduled to leave for a short missionary trip to Mexico in just a few days. This morning I received a phone call from the mechanic (where I managed to push my car after it broke down in the middle of the road yesterday) saying I needed a new fuel pump. It’s not a cheap fix. Cheaper than needing a new car, but not cheap.
I then got to thinking. This isn’t the first time something really crappy has happened right before I’ve left for a missions trip:
- Just days before I left on my first trip to Peru, my great-grandmother passed away, almost a year to the day since my grandfather passed away—my grandfather was supposed to accompany me on that trip.
- Again, just days before leaving for Costa Rica, I broke a toe. It may seem insignificant, but is quite significant when you can’t put on proper shoes to walk through a squatter village.
- Upon returning from another trip to Peru, I came home to learn that my employer had filled my position in my absence—an absence I had scheduled and made arrangements to be covered until my return.
In addition to these points, I’ve dealt many times with lost or delayed luggage, differences in opinion with leadership, and a plethora of other small issues that, when I think about it, really add up.
Does this mean I’m destined to deal with garbage every time I go on the mission field? Possibly. Does it discourage me? When I look at the bill for my car, maybe. Will all this stop me from future missionary work? No. Because I have a list of promises from the Bible—both in the Old and New Testaments—that say I can expect more.
If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord you God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessing will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God:
You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.
The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed.
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.
Deuteronomy 28:1-6 (NIV)
This is an Old Covenant blessing, but I don’t believe that the New Covenant completely voids it. I don’t believe that God withdraws His blessings, He adds to them.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Ephesians 1:3-6 (NIV)
My inheritance in Christ doesn’t included broken down cars, broken toes, or lost jobs. My inheritance includes every spiritual blessing in Christ. According to Ephesians 1:18-19 it also includes the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Just because we may deal with junk in life doesn’t mean that we can’t also expect good things from a good Father. In Deuteronomy, the blessings of the obedient Israelites were to serve as a sign to the nations that they belonged to God. In Ephesians, we were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Bad things happen. It is the nature of a fallen world. But it is our response in those situations that will either push us ahead or drag us down. I choose to believe that every attack I have encountered before a missions trip is yet another sign that I am on the right track. The enemy won’t waste his time on people who have no intention of accomplishing anything for the Kingdom. I choose to believe that God has a plan for me and that His plan is a good one.
I choose to believe that, even in the trial, I will be blessed when I come in and blessed when I go out.
Read: Deuteronomy 28, Mark 15:27-47