I have a love-hate relationship with my luggage, says OMF worker Vivian To in Taiwan:
What do I hate about it?
Serving God abroad is amazing, but it comes with some baggage. And sometimes, the baggage fees are unexpected, costing more than you planned. You thought you had it all weighed out, had it under control, but then it got heavy.
The luggage screams back at me, ‘another round of loss and grief!’
It’s the fourth time this year I have had to say goodbye to another co-worker and friend. And not too far in the distant future, there will be a home assignment – yet another transition as my luggage moves my life back and forth across the ocean.
How will the moves affect my ministry and friendships, especially the local friends I’ve tirelessly invested in? These friendships do not come easily. I also feel the loss of missing all my family events at home. You realize while there are just some things you can do on Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet, you can’t beat face-to-face interaction. All this takes me way out of my comfort zone. It makes me feel vulnerable, uncertain and a sense of loss.
Yet it is what it is. And that is painful. Because there’s a big part of me that longs for stability. Relationships that have depth, ministries that are growing, and a place that I call home.
No other way
Yet this is the situation that God has called me to. The reality is that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Not because it gets easier, as it might not get easier, just more familiar. The change. The loss. The grief. The pain. Yet I’ve discovered that there is no pain so deep that God’s great love cannot find me.
There is a certain vulnerability we bring before God when we confess that much of what we face in life is uncertain, and at times, painful. This feeling of helplessness invites us into a deeper level in our relationship with our heavenly Father.
By removing our pretences about having control over our lives and recognising our need for God, we can arrive at a place of humble trust before him. This is what the Psalmist reminds us of over and over again.
God does not expect me to have my life figured out, sorted out, or put together. He simply wants me to trust and follow him in obedience. The wonder of it is that, as I trust him, I come to know the saving power of God through the hardship I’ve endured. As I trust him, I can grow in confidence that he will get me through the goodbyes, the messes and the setbacks in ministry.
The more I trust him and behold his surpassing greatness, the more joy I have in my heart despite the loss and grief (see Psalm 150:2). I may be uncertain of what lies ahead of me, and that is hard, but I can be certain of who walks with me that gives me strength and hope; Jesus Christ who says, ‘surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’ (Matthew 28:20).
Pray with us:
– Pray for missionaries navigating times of transition and change, that they will be able to be honest with God about how they feel. Pray that they will know his unchanging presence with them especially in these times.
– Pray for the ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’ in missionary teams and churches – for finishing well, for shifting team dynamics.
– Pray for protection on friendships and connections formed overseas while workers are away on home assignment, that when they return they will be able to pick up again where they left off.