Monday, March 23

Returning to Ecuador

"You must be so excited about finally getting to go back to Ecuador. When do you leave?"

I have probably heard variations of these words a dozen times over the past few days. Those voicing these phrases are well-intentioned, so we respond kindly with the words everyone expects us to say,

"Oh yes, we're thrilled to be getting back home..."

The truth of how we really feel about going back would take a lot longer to explain. I'm afraid we would burst a lot of people's bubble about not being the super-saint missionaries we are expected to be.

Excited? Thrilled? Home?

After 20+ years living in Guayaquil I personally do not relate to those terms as being descriptive of our life overseas.

Don't get me wrong. We do know this is where God would have us. We are called and have not yet been released from this calling. If given a choice we probably would choose somewhere else to live. Guayaquil is not my idea of the "good life." It is hard to live there. It is even harder on one's family.

Sure, when people come down for a few days visit everything is wonderful, awesome, exciting, inspiring, beautiful, exotic, adventuresome, etc. But all that quickly fades. The honeymoon phase usually ends sometime around the end of the 2nd or 3rd week.

So, are we going back grudgingly with a bad attitude? No. We go back realistically knowing what it is we return to. Danger. Hot year around. Crowded. Loneliness. Insecurity. Discomfort. Poverty. Frustration. Sickness. Constant noise. Lack of privacy. Spiritual warfare. Misunderstandings. Inconveniences.

Some would say, "you're nuts for submitting yourselves to all that. Stay with us and do what you do over there, here in America." It sounds tempting. Even logical. After all, haven't we done more than our fair share for the Great Commission?

Our response?

Check out Jesus' words in Matthew 16, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it..."

Life isn't about feeling good, living the "good life"--the American Dream--seeking our well-being, experiencing personal fulfillment, being satisfied.

It is about Him, his Kingdom. His will. His desires. His heart. His good pleasure. His glory. He is the Potter; we are the clay.

Does this sound strange?

Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself (what? deny myself? lay aside personal preferences?), take up his cross (hey, I'm not ready to go to the cross, I'm not ready to die...in fact, I want to live the good life like everyone else), and follow Me (that's fine as long as He leads me somewhere really cool and somewhere I want to go...)

The funny thing about it all, is when we actually deny ourselves, take up his cross, and follow Him, we find the very life we were seeking all along!

I can't think of anyone more blessed than we are. I mean that. God's hand has been on our lives throughout this wild, crazy journey we have been on now for more than 50 years. I wouldn't trade places with anyone.

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS."

The reward, the "good life" is not something we get now. Rather, it will be rewarded to us when the Son of Man comes in the glory of His Father. Jesus will be the one to personally repay our deeds, ministry, toil, and sacrifices.

Thanks for whispering a prayer for us as we return to Ecuador a week from today.

9 comments:

Gary Snowden said...

Praying for you all as you make final preparations to return. Thanks for sharing the joys and struggles of missionary life in this post.

John Marklew said...

Bless you Guy for sharing this. We'll be praying for you as well as you return.

John

amanda said...

Thanks for this reminder. I needed this today. :)

GuyMuse said...

Gary, John, Amanda,

Thanks to each of your for stopping by and taking a moment to read this post. I was unsure whether or not to post it, but opted for transparency over pride. We so often give a false impression of who we really are, wanting others to imagine we have our act all together. More than anything, we need your prayers.

Deborah said...

Guy, I think that's a healthy attitude...it is vital each and every STAS to confirm your call to your place of service. It is not always a given that one should return, but should be something that we allow the Lord to confirm or re-direct.
I also think it is healthy to accept the realities of your place of service...sugar-coating it, even for those at home, is not helpful. We always made it a point to be honest to those in the process about the realities...going with your eyes wide open enables one to realize that reliance on the Lord is essential.
After 12 years of service, we felt the Lord telling us to return to the US. We struggled with this, as we loved our host country, and we knew that the Lord was not calling us to something easier...and it definitely has NOT been easier. But the Lord has given us a peace that we are where we need to be and we are still waiting for the next step.

The Lord goes before you as you return. Your family will be in my prayers. Thank you for being obedient to the call that He has on your life....that call doesn't change, just sometimes the place might change. Praying for a harvest!
Blessings,
Deb

GuyMuse said...

Deborah,

Thanks for sharing. After being Stateside now for several months, I can only begin to imagine what it would be like to return and start all over again. Seldom does the Lord call us to something "easier." Each previous step prepares us for the next in our journey with the Lord.

Kevin, Somewhere in South America said...

Welcome back, Bro. Guy. Welcome back. You shared a good message with us all. You mercifully omitted a few adjectives that come to my mind from my small exposure to "your city." They can also be ascribed to "mine," so it's not anything of "menosprecio" to be saying.

Losing my life in His,

KDS

GuyMuse said...

Kevin SWISA,

We're not back yet. Should be flying out this coming Monday, though. We still have a few more days of Dr. Pepper, brisket, etc. before getting back in the ball game down south. One of our team just returned yesterday from a visit to your city for a meeting with Xtreme. Had a good report about your "town" there from her.

Strider said...

Man, I am away a few days and look what you wrote! This is an excellent post Guy. I have written similar things and I think this is very important to get across. The message of the Cross can only be truly proclaimed by those living a Life of the Cross. Carry it well. Someday you will be home.... someday, and it will make these small inconveniences look insignificant indeed. Until then, persevere friend!