>Attack of the Clones (Subtitle: Martha, Martha, Martha!)

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“Jennifer needs a clone…or several…to go to all the mission fields she wants to be at!”

This was my status message last night after I received the Taiwan STM application from my pastor. The trip is from July 9 – July 31, so if I stay at OSU for the M.Ed program I will certainly not be able to go this year (not even considering whether I have to go to the KSTF summer meeting). So I’m grinding my teeth over this already as I read this statement at the end:

I understand that once I apply for the STM, and my application is accepted, I am automatically a team member and will be responsible to attend all team meetings unless excused. This, however, does not mean that I will be going to the mission field. I may be called to support the team and to serve back home in prayer and helping with the formation of the team, as in 1 Sam 30:24 “And who will listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down to the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage; they shall share alike.” Even though you may not go on the trip, you are still a part of this team. [emphasis added]

When I first read this, I thought it was really strange, but agreed with it in principle. This morning, I read the following passage from Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver:

“Even if I have a burden for a certain need or project, my interest or concern is not a surefire sign that I need to be in charge. God may only be calling me to pray that the right person will rise up to accomplish it. What’s more, I may be stealing someone else’s blessing when I assume I must do it all.” (Weaver 67) [emphasis added]

Ai-yah, kick me in the face!! I want to go to Taiwan more and more every time my econ professor talks about the mangoes and pineapples in Costa Rica. But…I think I see the puzzle pieces coming together…

Piece #1. Ever since Erik incorporated Operation World into one of our prayer meetings, which Paul York not-coincidentally brought up again during the Spirit Life retreat two weeks ago, God’s been teaching me a lot about the power of prayer for world missions, if only because there is no possible way for me to go to each country listed every day. (Today’s country: Aruba, which doesn’t sound like a bad idea right now!)

Piece #2. Yesterday afternoon (before all this really gelled in my brain) I sat down and wrote out what I see right now as my “fields” (initially done as an exercise to clarify the mission I would wish to share with a potential mate):

-the intellectual life of Christians, particularly young people
-international students
-Burkina Faso (or Africa in general), mothers and children
-China and Taiwan, children
prayer and support for global missions
-finding the beauty of the LORD every day
-reading and writing voraciously

Conclusion. As I consider my options for graduate school, I think of the words of Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both” (“The Road Not Taken”). As far as I can see (which is not very far), my grad school decision leads, for the immediate future, anyway, to two different fields. Are they both important? Yes. Do they both tug on my heart so hard it hurts sometimes? Yes. Do I have to do it all myself? No.

The past week saw me wandering back to old Martha-esque thoughts and habits, and I could feel myself throwing pots and pans around and struggling to take off my apron and STOP THE DAMN KITCHENAID…until I came crashing out of the kitchen to land at Jesus’ feet, and here is what He told me:

Nothing is harder to bear than a burden we’re not called to carry. While God does ask us to bear one another’s burdens, he has not asked us to step in and do what people are not willing to do themselves. And while there are many needs, God has not asked us to meet every one. (Weaver 59) [emphasis added]

So that at least confirms a decision I made two weekends ago to put someone very important to me into the hands of God and limit my involvement to prayer. Prayer, I am realizing, should be a first resort. It is not the least we can do, but the most. So turning back to the Taiwan STM, I don’t know what my role in that will be yet, but here, for now, is my prayer:

Father, just as you did last year, raise up the perfect team for your work in Taiwan. You know the people whose needs we will meet and I pray that you send the right team members. God, it would be my honor to go and serve but also my privilege to stay and pray. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3

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