The Discipline of Mission

Make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. – Hebrews 12:13

Our annual trip to Bathurst was good this year – we had a strong leadership team and a hardworking group of students, and I’m so proud of the things we accomplished. God showed up, and it was so great to see students grow in their faith and step out of their comfort zone to┬áreap the rewards of taking holy risks.

In spite of all this, I think our biggest challenge is still in front of us – settling back to normal life without losing the excitement of living for God every day. Going on a mission trip can be a spiritual high, and if it’s not you might wonder whether you’re doing it wrong. But here’s the thing.

Taking a mission trip changes where you are and what you do, but it does not change who you are or what God wants from you. Sometimes the change in routine and perspective can help clarify your understanding of those big questions – who am I? What does God want from me? – but ultimately the spiritual fruit that so often comes out of these experiences is accessible through every day faithfulness.

That verse from Hebrews has been challenging me to reflect on what in my spiritual life is lame, and how I can make straight paths to healing. I know that I benefitted from daily Bible reading and discussion, prayer, and encouragement on our trip, but I don’t have space in my daily life to build those habits on my own. Making straight paths for my feet means creating boundaries around that time my soul needs to flourish, not wasting opportunities to pray or read scripture. When I don’t have those paths marked out for myself, I gamble with the spiritual stability I think I have, I go offroading with a twisted ankle, and I usually end up hurting more instead of getting healed. On a mission trip, nobody is deluded that we can coast on our own spiritual merit – we know the call we have answered is bigger than us and harder than we can handle, so we worship and we pray like our lives depend on it, because occasionally they do.

Back home, the ordinary opportunities to grow get dull. Office gossip or facebook or long summer days creep lazy tentacles into our brains, and it becomes conceivable that God might not have anything new for us until next year, next trip, next time.

Going on a mission trip each year has been an annual reminder of the value of discipline – of carving out time with Jesus, regardless of what else clamors to be scheduled. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you,” James reminds his readers, and that is true whether you sleep in your own bed or on the floor of a church hall, whether you show God’s love to a third world child or someone who lives under the same roof as you. It is true every day and in every circumstance, but we need the humility to believe it and to reach for it. Daily.

And that just doesn’t happen without discipline.

 

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Comments

Susan Davis 23-07-2015, 12:10

Thanks for the reminder. Discipline is one of the crucial aspects of freedom. These are good words for the day!

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