It’s always funny scrolling back through my old blog posts, reminiscing about the trials and the triumphs that I’ve had to walk through over these past few years. It’s cool to see how far I’ve come, and it’s humbling to see how far I still have to go. There are some lessons that I’ve been able to check off my “done and dusted” list, while some other lessons are still in the “under construction” pile.
Just the other day I sent out an email update to my supporters and my church back home. It contained a bunch of sentences filled with anxiety, joy, fear, and uncertainty.
As I was typing out my feelings and my concerns, I became so wrapped up in my shortcomings and my doubts about being back in South Africa. Can I really make a difference? Am I enough? Am I really supposed to be here? And as I was typing, I tried to remind myself of the importance of holding on to truth, the importance of focusing on God, and the importance of prayer.
(*I don’t know if you guys realize this, but I actually write these blog posts for myself, because the Lord knows that for this stuff to actually sink into my thick skull, I need write it down—sometimes more than once. Also, the Holy Spirit has me write it all down in a public setting, because He has a serious sense of humor and because it makes you all witnesses to the up’s and down’s of my faith walk. This is what happens when you ask God to keep you humble, folks.)
Anyways, after I sent out the update, I got an email response from one of my pastors…
It was short, sweet, and smacked me across the face with truth:
“Sam, When all else fails simply LOVE”
Woah. It’s only been 14 days in this foreign country, and I’ve already forgotten the most important thing about why I came here in the first place. To love.
Yes, planting churches is important. Building orphanages is awesome. Educating children is special. Street evangelism is excellent. Feeding the homeless is great. Hosting bible studies is wonderful.
But loving people…and I mean really loving people—that takes courage, that takes vulnerability, that covers sin, that casts out fear, that brings unity, that speaks volumes, and that changes lives.
It would be pretty sweet to have a long list of accomplishments and success stories added to my “missionary résumé,” but if all of those things were done without love—then it would all be meaningless. Absolutely meaningless.
When I got to know the real Jesus at the age of 17, my life was changed forever. It wasn’t because someone told me I would go to hell if I didn’t stop screwing up, it wasn’t because I got a fancy degree in theology, and it wasn’t because I joined a new church that played awesome worship music.
It was because I was loved… I was loved in my mess. I was loved in spite of my flaws, my weaknesses, and my misunderstandings.
Someone (Alexandria Rogan, you know who you are) chose to love me when I thought I was unlovable. She decided that I was worthy of being loved and she decided that I was worthy of being found—and that changed my life. She didn’t accuse me or judge me or try to fix me. She just loved me, and that was enough to leave a mark that would impact my life forever. And the coolest part? She was able to love me, because she already knew exactly what it felt like to be loved in her own life.
But hey, that’s the gospel isn’t it? That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That although we’ve fallen short, we can have hope and salvation. That, even though I am far from perfect, Jesus covers me in His perfection so I can be accepted and welcomed by God.
So to put it simply (and to sum all of this up)… that’s why I’m here. And that’s why you are exactly where you are right now. To love. So when you all see me having me a nervous breakdown or a crisis of faith, because it is likely to happen again, smack me in the face with truth. Heck, send me this blog post. I’ll thank you for it.