I’ve decided it’s time to receive the words and wisdom of guest writers here on my blog from time to time. For those of you who would like to submit an article, check out the details here. Today is my first guest post! Sometimes we just need some fresh insight and inspiration from another’s journey. So, with excitement, I’d like to introduce my new friend, Sam. He and his wife are fellow missionaries with YWAM. We have not met in person, but let’s just say the internet is a global village of diverse people just waiting to become family.
Grace for Returning Home
By: Samuel John
It’s fun meeting people online, especially when you find out you know some of the same people. I came across Alison on Twitter after she mentioned YWAM. I contacted her only to find out we’ve been on the same spiritual journey (as well as know some of the same people). It’s funny how small the world of missions can be.
I’ve been in and out of missions for over 10 years now. If I was not overseas, I was working on trying to get overseas. So when God was speaking to my wife and me about making our homeland (America) the mission field, it was hard to grasp. For us, being a missionary meant being overseas. It’s outside our box of understanding. This is what I want to talk about. Sometimes leaving the mission field takes as much faith as entering the mission field.
When God spoke about moving to America, I struggled. Much of who I am has been wrapped up around being a missionary overseas. If I wasn’t overseas or planning on going overseas, who was I? Anticipating the questions of “So what are you doing now?” played over and over in my head. I have to look to God to define me, not anyone or their questions. This is the journey God has been taking me on.
I am a missionary, husband, son, and a brother. I have many titles. Most of what I am, I didn’t earn or deserve. And most of what I am isn’t actually who I am. Any title or label you could give me doesn’t define me. Above any earthly name you could give me, the one that matters is this: I am loved by God. That is the most important title. It’s all that matters. Whether I am a guilty murderer or an innocent servant, I am loved by God. That will never change. He will never change. I will never earn it because I already have it.
The problem is I want to earn what I get. I want to deserve everything through my efforts. It makes me feel safe, earning my way. But Grace doesn’t work that way. I get what I don’t deserve and I don’t earn anything; all is a gift from God. This takes a lifetime to understand. So when God spoke to my wife and me about leaving overseas missions I had to bury my head deep in the trenches of Grace and realize that I wasn’t earning anything by being a missionary. His love for me wasn’t greater because I was in a foreign country.
Finding myself in my homeland, pursuing dreams that have been growing in my heart over the years, feels wrong. I am not facing language problems, the handicapped beggar on the street, and many of the cultural barriers that used to be part of my daily life overseas. I am facing overeating at dinner time, holiday shopping woes, and long lines at Starbucks. The worlds differ drastically. The guilt riddles my emotions. I feel like I don’t deserve this life. That’s why I need Grace. Grace sets me free and I can’t do anything to get it, I already have it. It’s mine. God loves me whether I’m in the third world or the first. God loves me whether I’m in Christmas season or monsoon season. I need to understand that where I am isn’t who I am. The difficult part is receiving this wonderful gift.
My idea of being something to God or others has to change. How I perceived my identity to be must be realigned. I am loved by God, whether I am feeding the poor or watching football. I am invaluable. My value to Him doesn’t change just as His love for me doesn’t change. He doesn’t love me more for being overseas. He loves me more for being me, wherever I am. I am loved. And this side of paradise, we will only understand a glimpse of this Grace.
- What are ways you are needing Grace in this season?
- What boxes have you put yourself in and how can you let God free you by receiving Grace?
About the Author:
Sam and his wife, Ana, have served in several missions organizations. YWAM, IHOP, Iris Ministries, and Bethel Church in Redding, California are some of the places they’ve learned about missions and ministry. God has used them in children’s ministry, technology, healing prayer, and in everything practical that comes along with ministry. Their heart is to serve and see God move in the nations. Sam shares his experiences on his website: Missions Manual. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.