April 18, 2022
As you consider spiritual preparation for going overseas—whether you are serving for several years, a month, or a week—may I give you this one challenge: let nothing come between your gaze and the face of Jesus Christ.
I thought the Ritz crackers would slow him down.
Ever busy, ever building, ever doing, he was energy with overalls. He never stopped until his head hit the pillow.
Until this one day. I handed my son his usual snack of crackers, and inside my heart whispered a longing: “I wish he would slow down and just be with me.”
Suddenly, it was as if my silent longing had been whispered into his ears. He stopped building his block tower, gripped his baggie of Ritz crackers, and climbed onto my lap without saying a word. He just sat there, crunching his crackers, leaning his sweet, sweaty, two-year-old head on my chest. He looked up at me and smiled. He was with me. And I absolutely loved it.
In that moment, I also heard the Spirit whisper to me: “You know, how you feel about your son—that’s how I feel about you: I long for you to simply be with me.”
If I’m honest, I spend so much of my Christian life like my two-year old son: running around, busy, busy, busy. Christian growth becomes about doing more, reading more, serving more. We build our spiritual Lego towers and race around with our spiritual to-do-lists, shoving spiritual food in our mouths as we go. And we miss the point.
That is especially true in mission work. As you consider spiritual preparation for volunteering—whether you are serving for several years, a month, or a week—may I give you this one challenge: let nothing come between your gaze and the face of Jesus Christ.
Here are five helpful practices and things to remember as you prepare for your time of service:
1. Spend time with God
A growing, abiding relationship with God is the absolute best thing you bring to the mission field. The people you are going to serve don’t need you; they need Jesus flowing through you. You are simply a conduit that allows the love and grace of God to come through you to the ones you serve. You are an arrow that points to the One True Shepherd that they ultimately need. There are so many agonies and challenges you will face in this broken-down world, but the one thing that is certain and is the answer to all things is the person of Jesus Christ. He really is the way, the truth, and the life in your neighborhood now and in the neighborhood you are going to on the other side of the world.
Action item: Set aside a dedicated time of day to spend time with God. Spend this time reading Scripture, walking in nature, listening to a podcast, journaling, praying, or however you intentionally connect with God.
2. Receive God’s love and grace
You can’t give what you don’t have yourself. Receive God’s love as a real, every day occurrence in your life. Do you know how much God delights in you? So many things try to squeeze their way into our line of vision. The best possible thing you can do to prepare spiritually is to sit with Jesus. Spend time with him. Build your actual friendship with him. Ask him what he loves about you—and then listen for his response.
Action item: Work your way through the Psalms, allowing the Spirit to teach your heart how to talk to God about all things.
3. Pray about your time of service
Ask God what he loves about the people you are going to serve. Talk to God about what you’re worried about. Invite him into your daily, normal moments. Soak in God’s Word, looking for his face on every page. Watch God in the gospels and hear what he says. Watch how he interacts with people, listen for his heart. Build practices that will reorient your heart in his direction throughout your days.
Action time: Set an alarm to go off a few times a day and stop to talk to God when it does. Pray specifically about your time of service.
4. Remember that you are not the answer but you walk with the One who is
You are not the solution to the sorrows of this world. But you know the One who is. We so often believe that life is up to us to accomplish. In reality, we are changed and shaped and equipped and grown by abiding in Christ, allowing his love to flow through us. We are called to first receive his love and to fix our eyes on Jesus.
Action item: Study the gospels and write down the ways Jesus showed love to the communities and people he spent time with.
5. Remember that God is with you
Begin today to orient your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength towards God. Stop your running and look up. He really does long for you to sit with him and enjoy your Ritz crackers. He loves you with an everlasting love, and you have nothing to prove. Receive God’s delight in you and then go out to let that flow to our hurting world.
Action item: Choose your favorite Bible verse that reminds you that God is with you. Post it somewhere you’ll see it at least once a day. Maybe make a graphic for your phone wallpaper or write it out on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror.
Written by Renee A., Member Care Coordinator with Resonate Global Mission