This question has been quietly (or not so quietly) sitting with me as I consider my final days before this mission trip. When people hear that I’m going to Barcelona for a year, reactions are typically some form of:
“That’s so exciting!”
“How are you feeling?”
“You’re going to have the time of your life.”
Or my absolute least favorite:
“You’re gonna find some Spanish man, fall in love, and never come back!”
I’m not even going to get into that last comment, that’s for another post…
Let’s talk about “how are you feeling?” It’s a fair question to ask. Appropriate even. Yet each time I feel a persistent tension when answering. How much do my feelings really matter? Is this mission trip about me? No. Not at all.
Truthfully, there will be days when I don’t feel like serving. There already are! I’ve had PLENTY of days when I would rather stay home and watch mindless TV than say goodbyes or make sure my community knows they are loved before I go. More times than not, I’m probably not going to feel like serving. I’ll want comfort, not a new culture. I’ll want my small group, not to make new friends. (Shout out to the Thomases Wednesday group!)
Probably, more often than not, I’ll want to serve myself, not Jesus.
So in a semi melodramatic way, if you ask me how I feel, I’ll stumble through what I hope is an eloquent yet humble answer that tells you it doesn’t matter how I feel. If I wait for when I feel like serving Jesus, I’ll be waiting all the days.
“How are you feeling?” is still a good question to ask anyone making a decision for Jesus, it just shouldn’t be our ONLY question, or even our primary one. As the church, we need to be prepared to encourage beyond the romanticized views of mission trips. Speak to spiritual discipline. Speak to trials, perseverance, and trusting the Lord in obedience and faithfulness.
In Matthew, Jesus teaches his disciples “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). This life is about self denial and carrying our cross.
Sometimes it’ll be following him to a mountaintop, and it will also be down into the pits of a valley.
Sometimes it’ll be following him to the beautiful beaches of Barcelona (not mad about that) and other times it’ll be following him to kitchen tables in Tacoma.
Nevertheless, let us all be encouraged to take up that cross and follow him - no matter what.
The question is, what will you do when you don’t feel like it?