An Open Letter to the Almost-There Missionary

Candles Dear friend,

You sat on my couch the other day and said it’s too much. You said it with red eyes and deep breaths, and the others of us in the room breathed deep and teared up, too.

Because we know.

You and I, my friend, we’re in the same boat.

We’re living in the in-between, not quite sure where we fit. Not completely here, but not all there yet.

We’ve cut loose the moorings, and we’re on open ocean, going, going, but the going isn’t easy. The waves aren’t gentle, and they don’t seem to notice how much we’ve left behind.

I want to tell you that it’s going to be ok, that if you give yourself enough time, your heart will feel whole again. But I can’t, and it won’t – at least not on this side of eternity, I think. When home is on both sides of the world, when you let yourself love people who are separated by a lot of miles and a lot of water, your heart can’t stay in one piece.

But, you know what? I think maybe that’s not completely a bad thing.

My mom used to tell me that love is like a candle flame. When you divide it, when you use the flame to light another wick, it doesn’t take anything away. It gets twice as bright.

Our hearts are flames dividing.

Nobody says it doesn’t hurt. Because love done right goes deep enough to matter. There will always be the missing and the aching. But there will also be the doubling and doubling again of love that thaws deeper and reveals more.

Let’s not pretend that this is an easy choice, or that the reward for following God is protection from heartache.

If anything, we’re going to hurt more, cry harder, and feel more soul-naked than we ever have before. People don’t stop being people, and life doesn’t stop being life when we become missionaries. If anything, people become more, well, people-y and life gets more life-y. There will be things come that will knock the wind of us and leave us wondering if we’ll ever breathe again. And stressed out missionaries? Yeah, they can get ugly. You and I will, too, sometimes. Really, what we’re doing here – this whole missions thing – it’s just a journey deeper into the heart of God. And being taken further in to His heart shines Light deeper into our dark, and sometimes we don’t like what we find.

Funny things happen when we’re stretched wide and pushed further than we think we can handle.

    We start to see.

Like really, really see.

Yes, we see the brokenness in ourselves, in others, in the way this world churns on.

But we also see layer after layer of stunning grace.

Layer after layer of Him.

Jesus promised life, abundant life.

Abundant. Full. Really, really big.

Big joys, big tears, big heartache, big laughter, big wounds, big healing, big feelings, big freedom.

Glory leaking around the edges of the ugly, grace bubbling through the cracks.

And us, adrift in a deep, deep sea, only to find that He is the ocean and the waves are pushing us further into Him.

Yes, my sister, it is too much. This story we’re part of, it’s way too big for us. Abundantly big.

Ocean big.

And we are being held, rocked, carried forward into the depths of Him.

And someday, friend? Someday our fractured hearts will be whole again, burning bright and hot as we stand with the multitudes from every tongue and tribe, singing glory to the One who broke Himself for us.

You are loved.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
~John 10:10b

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.