Recently the Lord began to lay a burden on me for a certain group of people within several countries in a specific region in the world. As the pastor who oversees our mission effort at my church, and as a former missionary, this should not be that surprising. However, what caught me off guard was the intensity in which I began to feel the burden. There were a couple of days when the burden was so overwhelming that I began to wonder if the Lord was calling me back on the mission field to this particular region. As I continued to pray for understanding I began to have to deal with the question of whether or not I would be willing to live in a region so volatile that I would have to constantly consider the reality of life threatening situations.
As I considered this possibility I sensed the Lord challenging my mentality. When I leave on a mission trip, even to a very safe place, I always pray for protection. Yet, this prayer is rarely prayed in the bible, and when it is prayed it is always in the context of war. Is this really how I would need to pray if God called me to serve him in a dangerous context? In the midst of this question God gave me a different prayer. What if instead of praying, God please protect me, I prayed, God if I die here at the hand of the enemy I pray that he would have to pay back with souls saved?
This was a radically different way of thinking to me. I began to prepare myself for living in a context where I could lose my life for my faith, and soon I found myself ready to embrace such a reality. What surprised me was not that I was suddenly willing to lose my life for my faith, but how it good it felt. Once I knew that I was willing to look at death right in the face I sensed that there was not a single ounce of fear left in my body, and that felt incredible!
I was pretty high on myself, and enjoying it, but at that moment God reminded me of the story of Naaman. In 2 Kings 5 we learn that Naaman goes to see the prophet Elisha, hoping that he might perform some great miracle and cure him of his leprosy. But when he arrives Elisha doesn’t even come out and greet him. He only sends out one of his servants and tells him to go wash in the Jordan seven times. This offended Naaman, because he thought the prophet would come out and make a big deal and do some fancy witchdoctor stuff. So Naaman went off in a rage. But one of his servants came up and pointed out to Naaman that if the prophet had asked him to do a hard thing he would have done it, so why not that much more do this easy thing that he had asked?
God then spoke this to my heart, So you are willing to do a big thing for me, even die for me? That’s good. But how much more should you be willing to do the little things for me? Ouch! What a challenge! I think that is exactly how the Christian life is meant to be lived. That is, we should have a vision that would walk into what appeared to be certain death if God called us, yet take that passion into the way we speak to our neighbors, treat strangers and conduct business. Perhaps it is time that we pray big enough to walk into death, but work small enough to bring about life.