Missionaries can be a negative, cynical bunch sometimes. And I’m not pointing fingers because I get it. I’ve drunk the kool-aid and have come up woefully short of expectations (of myself, the work and others), and I’ve done this same fall-on-my-face-move on four different continents. Hacking out a life overseas can make a pessimist out of the best of us.
A missionary friend shared this little video with me. Maybe us mission minded folk here at A Life Overseas can talk about it too.
Take a walk in our town and you will pass by large green trash bins, usually overflowing. If you see the lid of the dumpster propped open with an empty two liter soda bottle it means one thing: pilfering. You learn to not be alarmed when you walk by and hear a rustling from within. Tawny arms and legs scavenge through the refuse. Should I be ashamed that I laughed once when I saw a couple items come flying out that opening as if the bin itself spit out some parts it couldn’t chew all the way?
I have many trash tales I could tell. This is one of my favorites. Members of our church adopted a Bolivian child. They first encountered their daughter as an infant rescued from a trash bag thrown under a bridge on the rocky banks of a dry river bed. Her name suits her perfectly: Victoria. What a story of victory her life has been. She is a vibrant child getting ready to attend kindergarten. I marvel every time I see her.
Can you love what’s been thrown out with the trash? Can you deny the opinion of others and stoop to scoop a redeemable piece out of the trash heap? Can life be found in a putrid, rotting pile?
Yes. Yes. and Yes.
No matter if our life started in a trash bag, a pristine hospital room, or a stable; redemption must be the focus.
As Mary awoke on a day like today, the day after the first Advent, she gazed at the Infant on her breast. The fate of all humanity hung on that Life, cradled in her arms. The scent of dung and unclean animals hung in the air. A pungent reminder of the task of redemption ahead.
My friends took a baby from the clutches of an early coffin in the form of a trash bag, and roared, “NO!” in the face of death. Mary held an Infant in the midst of a detestable stable, filthy darkness all around, and gave the world LIFE.
What surrounds you? When was the last time you visited a dumpster and communed with humanity? What steps have you taken towards the smelly, filthy humans living around you awaiting a Redeemer?
I am speaking in quite a literal sense, though feel free to sweep it away under the figurative rug, should you so desire.
Jesus made us a promise. This promise shares rank with other powerful statements bestowing upon us faith, hope, and love. Sweet Jesus promises: the poor we will always have with us.
In the context of keeping precious communion with Christ the disciples receive a rebuke. They took issue with the extravagant “waste” of the woman anointing Jesus. How odd our human affinity to identify waste. Jesus promises the disciples that they will always have the poor with them and that they should help them, too. Then He draws us into the heart of the matter. He tells us to keep first things first. What we see as waste, he sees as valuable, precious, and necessary. (Mark 14)
Let us first waste ourselves on communion with Christ. From that “wasted” time communing with Him we can go to the “waste” of our community and bring the sweet smelling aroma of redemption.
Where have you wasted your life lately? Or better yet, with whom have you wasted your life lately?
– Angie Washington, missionary living in Bolivia, South America