To Live is Christ
Before we left the States for Romania, we met with hundreds of people to share the vision, raise prayer support, and gather the funds we needed to make the move. As we were leaving one of those meetings, the husband shook my hand, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I’m really impressed by what you’re doing. It must be hard to walk away from everything you’ve been doing here in Wisconsin, all you’ve been building. If God called me to go, I don’t know if I could do that.”
I didn’t really know what to respond. The question took me so off guard, and I was pretty preoccupied with getting kids in their seats, so I just smiled and muttered out something lame as we got into the van.
The other day, I randomly remembered that husband’s comment – “It must be hard to walk away from everything you’ve been doing.” Honestly, no, it wasn’t. It was hard to leave friends and family, not knowing when I’d see them again. But we knew we’d eventually have a mailing address, Skype, Facebook, email, and even Google Voice, and some of them had already made plans to come visit. It was hard watching our daughters cry about selling or throwing away some of their toys. But even that was offset by the joy they showed in picking out the nicer ones to give to their friends and cousins. It was hard to put ourselves into God’s hands and venture into a part of the world we’d never been to before. But again, if everything went to pot, worst case scenario, God would either figure something out or we’d die and be in Heaven, so no real loss there.
Was it hard to leave behind work that we’d been doing for years in Milwaukee and Oconomowoc? No, not really. Honestly, it never crossed my mind. My whole philosophy has always been to build as if I might be called out in 60 years or 6 months. Plant my feet, make it my home, get ready to give myself to this new assignment from God for life if He wants, but build and train and work in such a way that if I leave in 6 months, the work continues.
Besides, ultimately, I didn’t do any of the work for me or my glory or benefit. It was all for God, so if God was the one saying, “OK, time’s up, get outta’ here,” then He was happy with what I’d done and it was time for me to go. If the work crumbled, well it was for God anyway, not for me or to impress the world. If the work continued, awesome, then I really did my job well.
In whatever I’m doing for God, I don’t want to just do a good job right now, but I want to think long-term, raising up people who can do the work when (or if) I’m gone. This is what Jesus did with the disciples. He spent three years with them, pouring into them, investing himself into them, so that when He was gone, the Church launched into its most explosive phase yet. The Church didn’t end when Jesus ascended, and neither should ministry we’re doing finish if we’re taken out of the picture.
Paul told the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). To live is Christ. In everything we’re doing, we do it for Him. We do it for His glory. We do it for His honor. We do it for His joy. Living, ministering, serving God… none of that is about me. It’s all for Him, about Him, from Him, and an offering to Him. The work we did for Jesus in Wisconsin, it wasn’t for us, it was for Him. The work we’re doing now, it’s not for us either. To live is Christ. And to die is gain. Leaving when God calls, walking away from the work, placing it in God’s hands, is gain.
So, no, it wasn’t hard to leave behind all the work we’d been doing. We already left it behind long ago and gave it to Jesus.