January 26, 2006


“If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?” [1 Corinthians 9:11]

I’m in a dark place right now. A door somewhere between me and the end of the tunnel where the light of the freedom of completion shines brightly has slammed shut in my face. And in my panic, I don’t know what to do. I feel isolated; confused; wasted. My emotions turn from one dark thought to the next, cursing alternately the Australian visa laws and the people who keep conveniently forgetting to tell us about them.

“But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.” [1 Corinthians 9:11]

I am reminded of my charge; a missionary first, an American citizen second, and always a child of God. I can’t help but wonder why I’ve been given this responsibility, one that I have not, in particular, asked for. I’m not good at this at all, and often enough, I feel like the hell I’m going through to get to Australia is not worth what may or may not happen when we get there. God’s got people there, why can’t he just tell them to plant a church? Or maybe revive the ones that they’ve already got? Am I that important? I know I’m not. And so I remain confused.

“I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! If I preach voluntarily, I have reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.” [1 Corinthians 9:15-17]

And so I choose to keep going. Not because I have to, but because I know that there is more to the picture than meets the eye. It is by choosing it that the mission has its rewards.

“What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not misuse my rights as a preacher of the gospel.” [1 Corinthians 9:18]

Not earthly rewards, but treasures in heaven. And in some ways, my reward is simply the gift of the gospel to others. In the kingdom of heaven, things are always a paradox; by serving, we are rewarded, and the reward is the serving itself. Others benefit by our very existence, in our choices. Benefit – or hurt. Our responsibility is to make the choices and then see them through. God does the rest.

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