One of the biggest challenges for me upon moving back to small-town USA was my life lost a sense of adventure. For over a decade, my experiences had been shaped by an array of cultural sights and sounds. We were nomads, able to travel frequently to other countries and our daily lives had bright snapshots of the crazy, beautiful world we lived in. The street I live on now is quiet. I take my kids to school in my baby-blue mini-van. We don’t have the finances to travel extensively anymore. It all seems so…ordinary. Facebook and Instagram show a life that is not ours right now—exotic locations, thriving food scenes, exciting kingdom work, etc.
I kick back against the ordinary. It doesn’t come naturally to me anymore. I want to travel and move around; there is so much of the world I want to experience. This past summer I found myself a bit angry and a bit forlorn that we just didn’t have the ability to travel like we once used to. “This?! This is where You want us right now?! Really? Come on, God. You have to have something bigger for us than the prairie.” After all of the experiences we gathered through our work in Asia, it seemed like we were at a stand still and it was frustrating.
Then I picked up a book by Russell Moore that completely re-oriented my thought process. In his book Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel, he writes:
If we assume that what’s waiting for us beyond the grave is a postlude rather than a mission and an adventure, we will cling tenaciously to the status quo, or at least the parts of it we like.
I had a fear of missing out, and I had unwittingly believed that heaven was going to be a “postlude” of sorts. What if I actually came to believe instead that what was ahead was an even bigger mission and adventure? Then I wouldn’t fear that I was wasting my life. I didn’t have to feel bad that I couldn’t travel to this spot or do this job—I was going to have an eternity to be on mission. Can you imagine the sights and sounds of the new heaven and the new earth?
Once I shifted my thinking of my life beyond the grave, I was able to re-orient my thoughts on the life I’ve been given to live right now. What was the ultimate point of it? Moore gave me some more to ponder:
The natural world around us isn’t just a temporary ‘environment,’ but part of our future inheritance in Christ. Our jobs—whether preaching the gospel or loading docks or picking avocados or writing legislation or herding goats—aren’t accidental. Our lives now are shaping us and preparing us for a future rule, and that includes the honing of a conscience and a sense of wisdom and prudence and justice. God is teaching us, as he taught our Lord, to learn in little things how to be in charge of great things. Our lives now are an internship.
My giftings aren’t just for this world but for the one to come. I know I’ve been taught that before, but this past year I’ve come to understand it in new ways. When I learn how to cook a weekly meal for 80 people at church, it is preparation for heaven. When I care about the immigrants in my community, it’s shaping me for heaven. Nothing is accidental. Our time here in Minnesota is not accidental. I have been freed from the weight of fear that I am wasting my life. Every skill learned, every hand I reach out, every thought I turn back to Him, is used.
I know you don’t have to be living back in your home country to feel this way. You may feel this way right now in your country of service. I know when I was at home with three young kids, changing diapers and just keeping them alive all day, it was easy to feel left out of the adventure. Be encouraged today that nothing is accidental. And remember what a great mission and adventure await us!