Polly and I are returning to Peru in a very short time. The next stage of our new life is what I call “baby missionary school” and that begins in about two weeks. After that it will be farewell to Vermont and our church family here. Our church here is small and lovely. My main involvement is to be part of a mid week group of three to six dear folk who read the readings for the day and share. We are an unlikely bunch! It is an hour of reading and sharing followed by communion and breakfast. The discussion is lively, hilarious and to the point. This morning they all helped me put stamps on our latest newsletter – they want to continue to do this, for which I thank God. Sunday church is maybe 25 people, sometimes 35 on a good day. It is a village church served by a faithful priest who takes seriously the cure of souls. What a blessing he is. There are several other churches that support us in prayer and finances; they are all “family” to us. It is really the people who make up these churches who are the treasure found in “earthen vessels.”
This reminded me of a great sadness today – I have discovered that some of my friends and colleagues, all of whom I count as “orthodox” in the faith – have been fighting among themselves. What delight the enemy has in such discord! I found solace this evening in a few words of Oswald Chambers (often greatly helpful!). He wrote: –“Behold, we go up to Jerusalem.” Luke 18:31
In the natural life our ambitions alter as we develop; in the Christian life the goal is given at the beginning, the beginning and the end are the same, viz., Our Lord Himself. We start with Christ and we end with Him – “until we all attain to the stature of the manhood of Christ Jesus,” not to our idea of what the Christian life should be. The aim of the missionary is to do God’s will, not to be useful, not to win the heathen; he is useful and he does win the heathen, but that is not his aim. His aim is to do the will of his Lord. In Our Lord’s life Jerusalem was the place where He reached the climax of His Father’s will upon the Cross, and unless we go with Jesus there we will have no companionship with Him. Nothing ever discouraged Our Lord on His way to Jerusalem. He never hurried through certain villages where He was persecuted, or lingered in others where He was blessed. Neither gratitude nor ingratitude turned Our Lord one hair’s breadth away from His purpose to go up to Jerusalem.
He titled the piece “The missionary’s goal” and summed the whole up in the sentence “His aim is to do the will of his Lord.” It reminded me of the passages in St. John’s Gospel where Jesus is clear;
he says only what the Father tells him to say and does only what the Father tells him to do. How I wish I was that constant, that holy. In this world I am reminded of my fallen-ness and humanity. In my weekly group I am reminded that we are a motley group of disciples. BUT we are learning to love each other, to bear with each other, to laugh and cry together.
As we return to our beloved Peru and our beloved family there we sense the Lord’s leading us onward. We are praying for a similar group of motley and beloved prayer partners and pilgrims. May God be honored. May the world know we are Christians by how we love one another.