My family is getting ready to lead a mission trip to Guatemala. The packing and excitement makes me remember my first trip to India.
I am 24 and beyond thrilled to arrive at the orphanage and get to it. I will be hanging out with kids, doing a Bible school, cleaning the entire building, teaching them about hygiene and relieving them of scabies. I can’t wait to DO for God, to prove my love and my devotion to him.
Instead, two days into the trip, I notice a terrible throat funk on my tonsils. I spend the first two days in my room hoping the antibiotics will knock it out, but I eventually move to the hospital. My condition fails to improve. I actually feel worse each day, until the doctor decides he needs to remove my tonsils!
The team returns from a day of working without me. They tell me about all their adventures with these beautiful children, but I can’t enjoy them because I’m jealous. I’m mad. I’m angry that God won’t heal me so I can work for him. I’m angry that he won’t let me prove my willingness to serve. I’m ashamed that I may return back to the United States to tell all of my supporters that I’ve failed them. I didn’t DO anything for God while I was in India. I wasted their money, their support, their prayers and their belief in me.
I am so very worried about me. I am so very worried about my performance. I don’t understand that “to obey is better than sacrifice” (I Samuel 15:22). I don’t understand this verse because I haven’t lived it yet. My relationship with Jesus has been more about me earning my salvation and less about receiving it- even though I can never earn it. But I don’t understand this yet. I am learning it on this hospital bed.
Three days pass without surgery because no one can find the anesthesiologist. They keep asking me not to eat. “You will have to go into surgery soon,” they say. But soon never comes because the anesthesiologist is AWOL. Miraculously, an American doctor visits the hospital. She takes one look at my condition, removes the IV of antibiotics, turns me over, gives me a shot of steroids in my rear, and tells me I should start feeling better in the morning.
Ahhhh. She is right. My throat starts clearing in the morning, but I am weak. I recover for a day, and then take my first journey down the road to the orphanage. The children run to me laughing and want to play. I am too weak to work, and I’m forced to simply enjoy their company. There’s no job fit for me today except looking into these children’s eyes, learning who they are, and loving them in my pathetic state.
But my pathetic state is just where I need to be because I’m learning what it means to obey instead of sacrifice. I’m learning that it is about BEING in this moment and not DOING. I am learning that Jesus loves me even when I have no works, no deeds to offer Him. He has brought me here to learn about his grace among 1500 children who depend on it every day. They cannot work to make their life any better. They are totally dependent on the love and mercy of this ministry, this Jesus-loving organization that has chosen to take them in because they are loved by God, not for what they have to offer.
I wonder if you need to hear that Jesus loves you no matter what you’ve done- no matter what you have to offer today?
I thought I understood grace the day I received salvation, and in a sense I did. I understood I needed my sins taken care of- redeemed and washed away. I received Jesus’ work in this area, but it was harder for me to lay down my pride and not try to pay him back for the debt I felt I owed. My thinking was, “What kind of God endures the torture and pain of crucifixion and doesn’t expect payback? I owe Him. I will prove to Him I’m worthy of His sacrifice."
But, here is what Jesus taught me. He died for me because he wanted to, not because he felt guilty, as if he had to. Perhaps we aren’t worthy of his love, but he believes we are worth his love or he wouldn’t have chosen to die! I pray you can stop working and start resting in his love today!
Here are some verses to encourage you:
- "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous but sinners." Matthew 9:13
- "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
- @clayton_king "Sometimes hard times don't mean that you're messing up. They mean you're growing up.” #strongerbook
© 2016 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.