Home for the holidays. That is every PWs dream. At this stage in our lives Mike and I get to do it every year. We always visit our family, parents, friends, and supporters. Almost everywhere someone asks, “Are you really happy in Asia? Are you OK there? How can you leave your grandson? When your granddaughter arrives in April, won’t that make it harder?”
I have a ready answer. It is not hard for us to live in Asia. We love the people, the country is peaceful, the food is great, and we have work to do that we enjoy. It is the truth! I am happy there, and I know that is right where God wants us, at least for now.
In less than two weeks we will be back in Asia. I know there will be good days and bad. There may even be seasons when I wonder what possible good am I doing there. On the good days and especially on the bad days, I need to remember why I am there.
We need to remember why we are here, wherever here may be. Sometimes here is a place. Sometimes it is relational– the people we must rub shoulders with each day. Sometimes here is a season of life. And sometimes here is a job we must fulfill. No matter what our here is, we have to remember why we are here.
Remembering for me begins with verses that underscore our call and purpose. Here are some verses that have helped me through the years:
- Genesis 12: 1-3 was the reassurance I needed to step out of my home culture and into a very different one 27 years ago.
- Genesis 45: 5-8 Joseph affirmed that he was sent ahead to preserve life, not to get even with his brothers when he had the chance.
- Jeremiah 29: 7 tells us to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which He carried us.
I’m sure you have your own list of verses that your heavenly Father used to show you the way to the place where you are today. Remember those words of direction and encouragement. They help us stand when we feel like sitting down in discouragement.
The Dangers of Forgetting Why We are Here
If we forget why we are here, we lose our effectiveness. We can be dreaming of another place, a place together with the people we miss. We’re like the little mouse in An American Tale singing, “Somewhere Out There.” When that becomes our theme song, it is time to refocus. We cannot be effective where we are while wistfully longing to be somewhere else.
If we forget why we are here, we lose our peace and become restless. Restlessness can drive us to activities that sap our strength. It is hard to be at peace when our hearts are restless.
We waste valuable opportunities if we forget why we are here. I can get so caught up in tasks that I forget the people around me. Having a cup of tea with my neighbor may take time from my task, but it could be the most important few minutes of my day in God’s sight. I know I’ve missed valuable opportunities just by I forgetting why I am here.
If we forget why we are here, we become tension generators, causing everyone around us to run for cover. No one needs more stress in their lives.
Why Are We Here?
We are not here to be the owner, but a steward. While we were in Nigeria a wise man told us, “We are here to be plumbers, fixing the leaks and making strong connections. We do not run the work or own the work.” When we seize the ownership, we take on a lot of problems that aren’t ours to solve. When we are content to be the stewards, we do our part trusting that the Owner knows best.
We are here to learn and grow. If we pay attention today, we will be prepared for future opportunities. Hard times, as unpleasant as they are, teach us dependence on God. When we are comforted, we will have comfort to share with others sent to us in the future, as Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 1.
We are here to pray. Whatever else we do, our primary role is intercession. Hearing the muezzin call to prayer has become my signal to pray for our neighbors. We are to pray for, not about people. How easy it is to complain, even in prayer. “God, will you please do something about J’s annoying habits!” Prayer is a wonderful antiseptic for our heart against the poison of resentment. Every day we see people that no one else has ever prayed for. What a privilege to pray for strangers! I often don’t know how to pray and I am comforted that God knows my heart and hears the desire I have for their best.
We are here to love. God saved us to be lovers. It is easy to be a lover when we just think about doing what will help. God knew the only way to help us was to send a Savior. Most of us won’t show our love by being martyred, but we will show our love by seeing ways to help each person who comes across our path.
How to Be Here
When we don’t know how to be here, we need to look up to God. He can show us how to be where we are. He can open Scripture to us that gives us new insight into his purposes for us, right here and right now. He may send a message through the words of a little child or a national worker. He can even give us words in the night.
While we were splitting our time between our Asian post and the US, I often felt frustrated and unaccomplished. It seemed I could never finish what I started, and so much that I was doing seemed repetitive and unimportant. I woke up from a dream one morning and wrote the words I remembered from my dream. “Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be impatient. There is an assignment for you. It will be satisfying.” There were many days I had to go back and remember to not be discouraged and not to be impatient. Today I’m living in the last two sentences. I have an assignment and it is very satisfying.
Looking up to God helps to keep us from looking inward and depending on ourselves. There was no way I could change my situation during those years, but remembering what God said helped me to rest in His plan and purpose. Looking up to God builds trust in Him and His ways.
So ladies, where are you? Whatever the place, whatever the season, God’s purposes are always the reason.
“It’s so good to be right where you want me to be, Not a little to the left, nor a little to the right, Not ahead, and not behind. It’s so good to know that God loves his children so That he keeps us right in line.
“If I were left up to myself, what a mess my life would be. I’d run to and fro, wouldn’t know where to go, And I’d wander aimlessly. But since you came and took control, You’re leading me to reach the goal That in wisdom you set for me.”
Right Where You Want Me to Be, song lyrics by Mike Constantine