An excerpt from Isobel Kuhn’s book In The Arena states that during the first year overseas, God brings to the surface “all the scum in our lives”. And upon looking back, I can see that He has done just that. He has engineered each circumstance to bring about changes so that I might be a purer vessel for the work He has brought me to.
These circumstances have brought me face to face with the selfishness, self-will, materialism, anger, jealousy, and pride in my life. But with each “crisis” of culture stress, God has given me portions of His Word which have either confronted or comforted.
The first, given before we even left the U.S. were the noble verses of Matthew 9:37-38, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…send out workers…he who has found his life shall lose it…he who has lost his life…shall find it.” They were simple to speak, but I wasn’t really serious about losing my life. In reality that is what happened – a loss of life I knew: relationships, customs, language. The results were much like that of mourning: shock, denial, anger, grief, and hopefully, resolution.
The next verses were not so noble, but rather more confrontational, as I encountered them time after time in the first few months after we arrived, first during my quiet time, then during a devotional someone gave and then in a brochure I happened to be reading. Daniel 4:35, 37, “…but He does according to His will in the host of heaven…and no one can ward off His hand…for all His works are true and His ways just, and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” At this point in culture stress, I found myself asking over and over, “What have you done?” and was continually asked to deal with these verses in His very personal way. My stubborn will continued on as we daily tried to learn the language and culture and become acquainted with neighbors and others. After nine months, God brought me to a crisis point of decision regarding His sovereignty and goodness, and my submission and acceptance of both.
As I wrestled, I was reminded of another verse I had claimed years ago when I first committed to Him. Luke 1:38, “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy will” and there it was. There, clearly, was His direction, His calling, His faithfulness to what I had committed, and His leading in my life. Whatever! I had chosen this life: I was not a victim! It was then that the floodgates of tears opened and His peace and joy entered after months of struggle. Even though separated from those I love and the way of life I have known, I am finding purpose and experiencing open doors like never before. That is not to say that the struggles are over or that they have even decreased. But the choice of joy and submission to Him have been the constant comfort to continue in what I hope is an attitude that please Him and that will be seen by those we minister among.
I am convinced that those first years overseas are set aside by God to work on those who go – not on those we go to. We cannot write back of great victories or of many that have come to know the One we cherish. However, during this time, I believe we experience great personal spiritual victories to make the light of our lives shine even brighter here in the darkness.
I also realize that this year has been a privilege. We have had many opportunities to walk among a people in bondage and demonstrate the love of Christ and the freedom and peace we enjoy that is so seldom seen here. We know, too, if we can persevere, someday He will fulfill His promise; His Word will not return void.
MC LeGrande wrote this after the first anniversary of her service in Indonesia. She is currently living in Florida and can be reached at [email protected]