Up until recently, my plans to become a worldwide missionary were my spiritual security blanket. I comforted myself with the presumption that I had a guaranteed position as "spiritual superstar" anywhere else in the world (as long as it was someplace where people didn't know me). There seemed to be a gamut of Christian job openings waiting to be filled by a highly qualified church man such as myself.
At any point I could send out support letters and start shopping for the missions agency that would best fit my needs. As soon as the money started rolling in, I would valiantly set out to secure my spiritual stardom abroad, where people were just begging for me, Patrick Roberts, to come over and divulge all my amazing Biblical knowledge about Jesus Christ.
I looked forward to my international enterprises for Jesus in order to cool the stinging shame I felt about my faith amongst my own people, which was barely a shadow of the sincerity and zeal that should be the norm for any Christ-saturated person. And it calmed my fear-filled mind to know that I could pack away all the right information from seminars, classes and books, right here in the comfort of my own country.
I viewed God's kingdom the same way a typical college student puts off starting a major assignment until the night before it's due. I wasn't worried, though, because the spiritual gift surveys I filled out in church agreed that, yes, I had all the right stuff. When the time came to apply my advanced learning about world-wide missions, I was sure to waltz right into any country of my choice and dazzle everyone with my instant success.
It was a relief that I could be sent by a highly organized, dependable, missions agency (the only way to go). I would venture out, equipped with all the latest missions training, health insurance and a generous monthly support check from my American support-team, so I wouldn't have to change my quality of living at all.
In my mind, a "support-team" was a group of people who would give me money so I could go do the difficult, super-spiritual things that they would rather I do for them. And this made me feel good too, to be making up for other people's inactive faith with my own dazzling quality of faith. I felt honored to reallocate American wealth for such a noble cause as me, Patrick Roberts, the missionary. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.
I was also relieved that I could maneuver my way to the front lines of any "missions field" whenever I felt like it without having to wait for God's approval. I looked forward to my future as a spiritual stud-muffin, which would happen, I was determined, with or without any of that bothersome spiritual fruit that Jesus liked to talk about. Oh well, God's timing tended to be a little on the slow side anyway.
I was sure that, once I arrived in some far-off country, then my faith would come alive for real. I pictured little reenactments of Pentecost wherever I happened to step foot. I planned to burst forth preaching the gospel, magically fluent in some exotic foreign language the moment I came down off the plane, even though, until that point, I had been terrified of any kind of public speaking. And I had certainly never mentioned Jesus to a bunch of people who found Him highly offensive. Anyway, I could not have proclaimed Christ boldly in the United States because only unreasonable or crazy men do things like that, and I had a reputation to uphold. But overseas, amongst all those uncivilized non-westerners, I imagined that things would be different.
I was sure to be much more successful in some other country where no one knew me for the fraud that I felt myself to be. It was vital to my spiritual success that no one realize how afraid I was to say with authority that Jesus is Lord, even among the people I worked with and saw on a regular basis. I figured that, in another hemisphere, I might stop stammering and stuttering when I was trying to tell people why the Savior of my eternal soul was relevant to my daily life.
If I dared to be honest with myself, I might have admitted this incongruity, that I claimed to trust Christ with my eternal soul, yet I didn't trust Him with the daily issues of my life. If someone were to ask me why they should care about Jesus Christ, I would try to assemble an appropriate assortment of all the canned, churchy answered I had heard up to that point because recounting my own experience wouldn't have been an option. The prospect of being real with myself and God terrified me almost as much as being real with other people.
I professed with my mouth that the Bible was the "Sword of the Spirit", but in reality I was thinking, "Swords? Spirits? Please! Could anything be more irrelevant?"
These things are but a few snapshots of my own little journey toward being more genuine with myself and realizing the true, crippled quality of my Americanized faith. My goal in illustrating my own experience is to encourage you, O reader, to seek out the Lord more sincerely, with brutal honesty if needs be.
If any of this little journey toward discovering my amazing cluelessness strikes a chord with you, then don't bother arguing with me, but rather bless God for keeping alive at least a small portion of your conscience. Remember, O reader, that I am not here to tear anyone down. That's God's job, if He sees fit to do so. If you cringe at anything I've said here, then you might as well stop resisting God. You might as well choose to sit quiet and listen to the Spirit of Christ as He tells you the bare-naked truth about yourself in relation to the Almighty.
Then again, if God still confirms your calling to the life of a missionary, or whatever it was you were planning, then great! Go to it wholeheartedly and don't look back.
by Patrick Roberts. Find his book and additional resources at www.BooksByPatrick.com
Patrick is an average Christ-seeker. His goal is to turn people to Jesus Christ.
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