Post-Mission: Attitudes to Avoid

serveHim

I am feeling the effects.  Mostly jet lag and adjustment back to this time zone, but also the effects of post-mission deflation.  I’m not sure if this is a real thing or not, but I go through it every time I return from a mission trip where I spent the majority of each day serving and being immersed in ministry.  That is probably my favorite part of these trips – getting to serve, uninterrupted – 24/7 without any distractions.  Everything you do is focused on the key goal, telling others about Christ.  As a youth leader, there is the other aspect of being with your teen students all day every day.  Your bond and relationship with them deepens to a whole new level.  I learn more about their everyday life, their heart, and connect with them to the point that I look at them as my own.  You can’t help but love them…even when they have you up at 2 a.m. planning the next big prank.

sarah cole - IMG_0765But two days, post-trip, I am sitting here trying to get back into the “real world” I left behind.  I have daily tasks, meetings, responsibilities, etc.  But my mind is still on the broken path overlooking the Black Sea.  My heart is still thinking about the stories we heard, the games we played, and deep moments where we connected with our groups and saw them light up hearing how Jesus loves each of them.  I try to get my focus straight, but I can’t help feel a little empty because everything else that’s not serving Jesus seems pointless.  I miss working side by side with the team, hearing them laugh, watching them push through when their tired.  It’s easy to slip into a small depression, and to miss the Holy Spirit’s gentle voice.  He’s saying…“It’s not over, nothing but the geography has changed.”  I could just sit and think about what we did, but that’s not what God wants to do through me and this experience.  He uses these moments to “fire us up”, to get the blood flowing again.  To prime us for the real work.  Being a disciple and follower of Christ in our every-day lives.

When we are on these trips, we typically do a group devotion and it’s laid out beautifully. It helps you work your way through a passage of scripture and then apply that scripture through thoughtful questions.  One such question deals with what we want to avoid – actions and attitudes.  I think that’s a fair question for how I reflect on this trip and think about what comes next.  The last thing I want to do is have an attitude of “it’s over”.  

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. – Romans 12:11

That’s the furthest thing from the truth. In fact it’s just beginning.  During this past trip, our devotions focused on the missionary journey’s of Paul.  Reading through each passage, brought out one central theme: Paul never let an opportunity to witness and proclaim Christ slip by.  When he found success and a receptive audience, he didn’t just sit back and enjoy those memories, he pressed on and continued to reach as many people as he could.  His attitude is the perfect example and where I am determined to go.  My mission trip didn’t end, it just changed location.

So my attitude on this day is simple disciplines: Reading God’s Word, praying for understanding and application, and purposefully submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading of my life.  Through this simple discipline, I will continue to grow, God will continue to lead, and I’ll be ready the next time he calls me to “Go.”  I am forever changed by the experience of visiting Ukraine and sharing the hope of Christ with the children at Bible Camp.  I have a deeper love for each of the students I am privileged to work with and my friendship and bond with my fellow leaders will last a lifetime.  I am certain of these things.  I choose, today, to take this boost and push forward, boldly living for Christ in everything that I do.

Father, thank you for the memories.  Thank you for a heart that longs to be immersed serving you with those that mean so much to me.  Thank you for giving me a heart that seeks after you.  I pray that I’ll move forward looking for opportunities to use what you have done on this past trip to strengthen me and help me grow in my love and devotion to you, rather than just sitting around reflecting on what has been.  I pray for your leading and strength so that I will serve you no matter where you lead me. – In your name, Amen.

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