Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mission Trip in the middle of a Semester, Am I Crazy?

"Are you crazy?"  Yes, I am crazy. I have never argued the depth of my insanity.  After all, I spend unnatural lengths of time studying greek participles, IBS structures, while trying to wrap my feeble brain around much of my lighter weekly reading (usually 200-400 pages) on the subject of the Atonement. I'm a seminary student.  That's how we roll. We are a crazy bunch of people. Seminary students, everywhere, do I hear a "heck yeah"?

So, is it so crazy that I managed to squeeze in an eight day mission trip to Panama in the middle of the semester? I didn't think it was crazy almost a year ago when the plans were set in motion; in fact, I was stoked!  I am traveling with a dear friend, who has a long, amazing family history of missionary work in Panama and Cuba.  It is a privilege to be joining her on this great adventure.  There will be preaching.  There will be teenagers (yes!).  There will be seminary students (yes!!!).  BONUS: We're going to camp on the top of a mountain! Ok, the only way to get up the mountain--climb. So, there will be climbing of large mountains too.

Most importantly however, there will be God, waiting for us to join Him in His work in Panama.  For that is why we go, right?  I mean, there are bigger things than just me, leaving my family, my pile of books and homework assignments, to go on a mission trip.  God is doing something, and I get the privilege of participating.  Yes, the pile of books (200-400pps of reading X 2) and projects/papers (X 4)will be waiting, and will have multiplied, upon my return. That will indeed be painful and challenging.

But in the bigger picture, I am doing the better thing in going to join my Lord in His Work. This reminds me of the story of Martha and Mary in Luke's gospel:

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
   41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.
 Sometimes I'm  Martha, scurrying around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying feverishly to get it all done that needs done.  After all, Martha had guests coming! I have professors who demand the work be turned in, on time.  This work must get done. And it must be done with excellence!   That is Martha's heart, right?  She really just wanted to do something great for Jesus, but she got lost in the details for the Master, rather than simply being with the Master.  Seminary is important--it is a great privilege to be participating in this great ministerial equipping that is seminary.  These things too will be used to build God's Kingdom. But can the "doing" trump being at Jesus' feet? Mary had it right then, and I think it must have caught Martha off-guard.  The Text doesn't tell us the rest of the story, does it?  What is Martha do? Did she stop and join her sister? Did she get mad for not being recognized for her efforts to have a great party for Jesus? Or was she a little embarrassed that she had missed the greater opportunity to be in the Master's presence?

We do things sometimes for the wrong reasons.  We all want to do great things for God; indeed, we are called to that as ministers of the gospel message of Christ.  Nevertheless, we must never divorce the "doing" from the "being".  We are in Christ first, loving Him, worshiping Him, so that we can go out and be His Hands and Feet in the world.  The papers, the greek participles, the IBS structures, will all be there when I return, but the seeds that are planted in Jesus name while I am in Panama are eternal.  Those seeds will someday manifest something that is far beyond my degree plan or my credentials as a minister.  That something is divine and holy, and wholly God's.

Call me crazy, if you wish. I'm going to join my Master in His Work.  The other stuff can wait, for a little while. Call me crazy.