Monday, May 13, 2013

When You Can't See The Forest For The Trees

Cambodian Mangrove Forest
(Photo courtesy of 9comeback /

When I was in my Intro to Missions class at Dallas Theological Seminary I was really energized by seeing "the big picture" view of God's plan for the salvation of people from all across the world; how this theme of a master plan of redemption is woven throughout the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and how He has been using everyday people throughout history to bring it about. It was encouraging to think that we all have an opportunity to participate in a plan of epic proportions that is guaranteed to succeed, and to realize that what is required of me is not stellar performance, but faithfulness.

 Fast forward to today. The thrill of that dream can get lost in the ebb and flow of everyday life. I see problems that I don't know how to solve, I see hurts that I don't know how to heal, I see barriers that I don't know how to breach, and I feel incompetent in areas that I previously viewed as strengths. All of that coupled with little aggravations of life in a developing country that are not really such a big deal in and of themselves but start to feel heavy when they pile on you all at once (as they seem to do at times). Yes, I sometimes find my view of God's big picture is blocked by a gnarly tree planted six inches in front of my face.

 But the awesome "Master Planner" is also a tender Shepherd. He knows when I need help to re-shape my perspective. Like when I was in church yesterday and, seeing some new friends I had met recently, I was reminded of the big picture plan. These sweet ladies are Chinese Christians who are in Cambodia learning Khmer to be able to share the gospel with Cambodians. How awesome is that? Totally unrelated to what I am doing in Cambodia, but all part of the same master plan. Also, I just had a visit from my WorldVenture International Ministry Director and his wife, and as we talked about my current struggles, he pointed out that these struggles are not the same as the struggles I had less than a year ago. Then many of my struggles were related to just learning to survive in a new culture. Now my struggles are so much more related to doing ministry in this context. That means that I am doing ministry. As frustrating as my limitations can feel, people are being shown the love of Jesus and I am reminded that He can do more with my five loaves of bread and two fish than I could ever hope to imagine. And all that is required of me is faithfulness.