Onward?

By Jonni Sliver

A lot of you already know that one of the blessings of teaching is how much you learn! Right now I am working on my classes for the second semester of Bible school, the stories of modern missionary movements. I am having a great time, since it is a topic I love. It can also be more than a little challenging as I sit in my nice comfortable office, working away on my Toshiba. It is hard to not notice a little difference between my reality and the challenges facing William Carey and Hudson Taylor.

What really made me sit back for a moment was a poem I read, written by Amy Carmichael. Soon after her arrival in India she contracted a tropical fever and went to live in a mission compound to recuperate. What she saw would have looked good in any report – a large church had been planted and there was a lot of activity. But what she didn’t see concerned her, she didn’t see changed lives and she didn’t see a concern for those outside of the compound. She saw the lady missionaries meeting for tea, meeting for talks, but not meeting for a greater purpose. And one day she wrote:

Onward Christian soldiers, sitting on the mats;
Nice and warm and cozy, like little pussycats.
Onward Christian soldiers, oh, how brave are we,
Don’t we do our fighting very comfortably?

Now what caught my attention here was not necessarily a call to a hard life. I don’t think that if I make myself truly uncomfortable I will surly please God more. Though I admire Amy, it´s  not that I find myself wanting to be just like her or any of the other great men and women I have been looking at these last few weeks. The more I read, the more I see them as pretty flawed people too. What I do feel is challenged to look and see just how contented I am at this moment. There is a difference between the peace of God that gives us the courage to step out and contentment, that feeling of satisfaction with everything just the way it is, that drains our desire to do any new thing.  

Amy’s little poem has challenged me to seek a good shaking up from the Father. I am so grateful for what He has brought in to my life, but is there more? And right now I am surrounded by amazing young people who are seeking God and diving into His Word. Am I giving them a living example of stepping out in faith, or just teaching them the principles?

Even as I wait on the Lord to hear what He has to say to me through His Word, I am once again amazed that the Father loves me enough to challenge me to go farther with Him!   

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