My life is not my own, but I have been bought with a price.
I have left the United States as I know it and entered a mission field tucked away in a corner of countryside in Missouri. My time here is barely twenty-four hours old, and I already feel both more at home and more stretched than I anticipated.
I have nearly mastered the names of my new immediate family. Twelve women, living in one home. What that means is that my life is not my own, my room is not my own, my food is not my own. Everything but my bed and personal belongings are to be shared. Even my time is not my own. Living in this close of a proximity with so many people means schedules and structure are required to maintain order. Laundry happens on a schedule. Meal times happen on a schedule. Chore charts happen on a schedule.
My first instinct was to baulk. I’m twenty-six. I’ve lived on my own a long time. I’m used to buying my own groceries, having places for my books, going to bed without worrying when the light gets turned out, showering without checking with four others whether or not they need the bathroom. Many of the girls are much younger than me. It’s like being thrown back a decade into the days of camp or at least my freshman year of college with rules and regulations, designated lights out, and cleaning charts. I expected a house of seven with one roommate. What I received was twelve and a roommate both young and in need of a lot of healing, with two other beds in our room that could be filled at any time. I have to walk down the road to get internet. Not ideal. But I have a choice. As I walked the property this morning I sensed God saying this is a chance to die to self.
In Philippians 2 Paul instructs us to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Here are those interests very tangibly in front of my face. Have this attitude in yourselves which is also in Christ Jesus. He laid aside His rights, his divinity. He emptied Himself and walked towards a cross with open hands and an open heart. Lord teach me to walk as you walked. Paul states later that even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with your all. Lord, fill my heart with joy as I learn to pour myself out. Lose myself to find you.
This year may very well stretch me more than India. What heat and spicy food, complicated travel, dust and sweat did not draw out of me, this little place in Missouri may. This year, like India, I will get up every morning with a desperate need for God to meet me, but that is the best place to be. I will face a choice to choose gratitude over selfishness. This year I will realize what has always been true. I am not my own, but I have been bought with a price.
Ann Voskamp, in her book One Thousand Gifts, writes about how joy is derived from gratitude. The more I have the eyes to see the good things God is giving rather than the things I do not have, the more my heart will find its capacity for joy. So this morning I rose and I chose to be grateful for these things:
A beautiful sunrise and cool morning to walk and pray
Time to linger over the Word and journal out my thoughts
The pleasure of not having to dig in a suitcase for the first time in weeks
Milk to go on my cereal
A houseful of people instantly becoming my community
The delighted eyes of one of the women supervising me. she is so glad I’m here
Teaching that makes sense to both my heart and my spirit
A sense that God has so much to bring alive in my heart