Becoming a missionary sounds so noble. We must be truly self-sacrificing, God-loving people in order to let go of our lives and follow God’s call. Moving to a poor colonia in Mexico was really hard. We lived on a dirt street. We had dirt everywhere. Every surface, every crack, every crevice. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt. We fought scorpions, blistering heat, and the oppressive fear brought on by the horrific drug war. Wow, we sure knew how to sacrifice for Jesus. We were called. We obeyed.
I expected this to be a nice, simple formula:
calling + obedience = huge success.
We returned from Mexico a year ago. Our presence in our neighborhood made a small impact over the almost decade that we spent there. But how much of that will remain after another decade passes? Our work was fleeting and brief. Sorting through all the emotions and questions: Why were we called? Did we do everything we were supposed to? Did we miss something important? I remember the prophet Jeremiah.
God called Jeremiah.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah royally failed. No one listened to him. No one took him seriously. Jeremiah was threatened and abused. People asked him for advice and then did the opposite of what he recommended. People questioned his connection to God. Jeremiah was such a failure that God told him to stop praying for the people! GOD!
“So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you.
Jeremiah died alone in exile in a country where God commanded the people not to go. Jeremiah completely failed in his mission to move God’s people back to God. But he did everything he was supposed to do.