Yesterday, in one of my classes, we were asked to shortly describe ourselves. My classmates’ self descriptions stated their country of origin and their current profession. So that would make me: Samara, American, studying TESOL in Thailand.
How very weak that introduction is. How void of the most important parts of my identity.
Samara. Daughter of God. Created to create. Loved to love. Accepted to accept.
I would say that that more accurately describes who I am.
Jesus and I will be celebrating our ten year anniversary pretty soon. Ten years. A whole decade. I cannot believe I’m old enough to be celebrating a decade of anything… but that is a whole other issue.
With this memorial date approaching I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting.
Reflecting on my life. Reflecting on who I was and who I’ve become…and who I was while I was becoming who I became : ) [got that?]
A statement that I’ve been making a lot lately is that “christianity didn’t change my life, my relationship with Jesus changed my life.”
Every time I hear myself say this something jumps inside of me. That statement is the most true statement I can make. Nothing has had a more profound impact on me, my life, and who I am, than my relationship with Jesus.
I grew up with christianity. I grew up with the stories, the rules, the systems, the commands, the expectations… but I didn’t grow up with the reality of the Gospel. It wasn’t until that Reality became my reality that I was able to experience the freedom that has forever marked my life.
I recently finished reading “The Jesus Storybook Bible” with my Thai teacher.
If you haven’t invested in this children’s Bible yet, you’re missing out. I have yet to find the Gospel more beautifully illustrated (figuratively and literally). The authors of this Bible have so beautifully pointed out how God has been working from the beginning of time to get His children back into right relationship with Him.
Every story whispers Jesus’ name.
For God SO loved the world that He sent His Only Son.
It was always God’s plan to send Jesus. Because it was always God’s plan to get His children back.
And who does Jesus pinpoint? Who does Jesus call out for greatness? Who does Jesus choose to befriend?
He chose people like me.
People who were lost, depressed, lonely, dirty, poor, addicted, deserted, alone, condemned, guilty, hurting, oppressed, possessed, angry, blind, deaf, dumb, doubting, drunk… the list goes on.
He chose whomever would chose Him. He chose the hungry. He chose the needy. He chose the difficult. The unrighteous. The annoying.
I’ve been a missionary for about three and a half years now.
Demonstrating the Gospel is my job. Literally. It’s what I get paid to do.
So often the job demands of newsletter writing and supporter relations tempt me to act like an Extra-Super-Holy-Person. I mean… that’s what missionaries are supposed to be, right?
My life needs to be clean. structured. organized. predictable. newsletter appropriate. and those knees better be covered… do we even need discuss the shoulders?
My paycheck depends on it… right?
Jesus’ Gospel wasn’t clean. Jesus’ life wasn’t structured… organized… predictable and His supporters probably wouldn’t have liked His newsletters. (He hung out with women and was at parties where people got drunk… I mean… you can’t really write about that kind of stuff…)
For God SO loved the world that He sent His One and Only Son, that WHOMEVER may believe in Him will be saved and have life eternal.
So that’s my Gospel. Believing in Jesus and receiving that life eternal. Life eternal starting ten years ago. Life eternal now. On earth. Life eternal full of messes and mistakes and unexpected turns and hiccups and high highs and low lows.
Life eternal, right now.
Life with Jesus.
And that’s what I am in Thailand to share.
Not a good English education. Not an introduction to critical thinking. Not an education full of the creative arts.
I’m here to introduce my friends to Life Eternal. Right now.
Life with Whom you may converse. Life with Whom you may walk. Life with Whom you may be messy and unpredictable.
Life—Who will never change, never leave, never reject.
Life. Real. Messy. Unpredictable.
Life with Jesus. Free. Safe. Abundant.
I was recently reminded of this video:
Not much I can say after that.
So to end this blog post I want to challenge myself to another ten years. Another ten years of Life. Another ten years of greater intimacy and greater depth of relationship. Another ten years of walking with Jesus wherever He may bring me. Another ten years of saying yes to impossible situations and messy people. Another ten years of taking risks and looking foolish. Another ten years of failing and hurting. Another ten years of Jesus picking me back up. Another ten years of Abundance walking with me. Protecting me. Guiding me. Providing for me. Another ten years of adventure.
And I challenge you too.
What is the Gospel?