Gluttons for Punishment

With all the speaking to groups we’ve been doing it’s got me really thinking about the reasons we are returning to Zambia. Are we just gluttons for more punishment? Folks keep asking us if we are nervous, excited, or both, to be heading back to our strange life. In conversation the other day a friend said, “At least you are doing what you love.”

She meant it innocently enough and I would say that statement is at least a little bit true. But after thinking about it I realized that a statement like that actually completely misses the point of why we went to Zambia in the first place and why we are going back. And in fact, believing a statement like that is even dangerous for us as believers.

Let me explain... Doing what we love... Honestly folks, if we were doing what we love, we’d be living on a beach somewhere. Our kids would be in public school and plenty of programs to keep them busy so that we’d have as much free time as possible to pursue “our hearts’ desires.” We’d spend ridiculous amounts of money on gourmet ingredients for the dinners we’d spend hours preparing every night. We’d stay in bed and watch movies all day long. Sorry to spoil your picture of the Huckabys but that is what “doing what we love” would look like. We’re really not on some fancy path of self-fulfillment.

It’s NOT about doing what we love. It is WHO we love that matters. We are completely in love with Jesus Christ. We are going back to Zambia because Christ saved us from our sin-filled, crappy, self-centered lives and gave us new hearts with room enough for more and more people. 

Jesus said to go and make disciples of all nations and to love each other, so we are trying to be obedient to what he asked of us. Here is the hard truth:  on a LOT of days, we DON’T love the work we are doing. But we still love God. We love the almighty father God who made us, his Spirit that encourages us and leads us each day, and his Son who died for us and rose again so that we can also be with God forever. Because of our love for God, we love serving him, and he helps us to love the work we do each day because he is so merciful.

If I believe that we are going back to Zambia because we want to do something we love and because we want to feel fulfilled, well, I’m going to be in big trouble. Pretty soon I would start telling myself that this work is just too hard. This life is just too difficult. It would be so much easier to just pack up and head back to America where there’s no burning garbage in my backyard and no mosquitos and ants chomping my flesh.

But when I go because I love Jesus and he loves me and I want other people to know that amazing grace also... well, that never fails. That’s true every single day. It’s true on the day our neighbor drowns in his well. It’s true on the day we hear about a baby found in a pit latrine in the slum down the road. It’s true on the day three different teens come by asking us for school fees. It’s true on the day when our friend loses her newborn because of poor medical care. The good news about Jesus is true every day and THAT is what we love!  That is why we are going back.