Lives Poured Out

A couple of years ago I told you about our Japanese pastor, Noguchi Sensei

The post was December 6th 2010, I think. That seems like ages ago, but here’s how it went:

I was a young missionary in Japan, there to save the world, and okay… maybe just a tad filled with myself. One night I went alone to the evening service at church. Tony must have had a meeting somewhere, I don’t remember.

I sat there, the only foreigner in the service. The text for the message was from Matthew 26, where the woman is pouring perfume on the Master’s feet. Pastor Noguchi read the passage and then talked a few minutes about the woman, the cost of the perfume, etc.

Then he took an interesting turn when he said, “Look at our missionaries”.

I was glad I’d been paying attention as all eyes were suddenly focused on me.

He went on, “I know they all must have been leaders back home where they come from. They are talented and intelligent. They would have to have drive and ambition or they wouldn’t have made it this far.”  I sat up a little and beamed, basking in the praise.  Then Noguchi threw me a curve…

“And they get here, and what? They study the language for a very long time, and they still talk like 6 yr olds. They never really understand us, and they bumble around lost and confused most of the time.” (I shrank in my seat, even though all eyes were now politely turned aside. I knew he was right.).

There was some murmuring and nodding in agreement as Noguchi went on,  “Sometimes we might be tempted to just say thank you to these folks, and kindly suggest that they go back home where they can do some real work; where they will be comfortable and can actually use their skills.”

After a brief pause, but before everyone started voting us off the island, he picked up his Bible and read the words of Jesus, this time in ENGLISH, perhaps wanting to add a little flair, or for my sake so that I’d be sure to understand;  “Forbid her not, for what she does is a fine and beautiful thing”.

“Don’t you see?” he said to the congregation. “Missionaries all over the world are pouring out their LIVES at the feet of Jesus… for whatever it’s worth, what they are doing is a Fine and Beautiful thing!”

That was a turning point in my life when I realized, I’ll never be Japanese (or Thai, or even possibly Aussie). I will never speak any language like a native, including American English, which seems like such a long time ago, nor will I ever learn Australian, which my Aussie brothers and sisters insist IS English. But like it or not, my life IS being poured out, as the wrinkles on my face confirm.

But what a comfort to think that Jesus might someday give me a squeeze and say, “Good on ya, Marsha!” In all truth, it’s not much of a sacrifice to love these people, and if that’s part of what “pouring out” means, then I can’t complain. I guess the bottom line is simply this: our lives are running out, at least the part associated with our mortal bodies. The question is not, “How can I plug the leak?” but, “How can my pouring out make a difference to the Kingdom?”

May your pouring be a good one, and may it be said that it was indeed a “fine and beautiful thing”.

And now, here we are in 2018, and as I embark on this ‘journey’ of reminiscing about God’s work in and around us, I will be talking at length about the missionaries’ influence on Japan as well as their sacrifice.  But there’s one more thing about their sacrifice that I want to mention.

You remember the story of King David, as he set out to stop a plague by building an altar and offering a sacrifice to God. He found a threshing floor, neatly leveled and ready for building. Approaching the owner, a man named Araunah, David explained his plan and offered to buy it. Araunah, while lying flat on his face in front of the king answered, “Take it Your Majesty,… I’ll give you the land, along with the oxen for the sacrifice and the equipment for the fire.”  But here’s what I find interesting, maybe because it speaks straight to my own heart:  David replied, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to          the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. So David          bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver          for them” (2 Samuel 24:24).

Whatever we may sacrifice to the Lord, it’s not meant to be free.   For Tony and me, I can’t say that our missionary “sacrifice” has been all that costly. We didn’t suffer much, not really. But then, it wasn’t exactly free either.  Looking back now, we sometimes think of the “might have beens” and can’t help but wonder, “Was it worth it?”  Our children hardly knew their grandparents, or their aunts and uncles. As “Third Culture Kids”, they were often different from other kids their age wherever we were, and this sometimes resulted in some painful experiences. Then there was Trevor, our first-born. A lot of evidence is pointing to the fact that his type of leukemia was somehow related to our being in Zambia on a mission assignment when he was conceived. At any rate, the enemy of this world is quick to point the finger of blame at us for our children’s suffering.

But then I think, “There is so much more in all this than I’ll ever understand this side of Heaven. It might be better to reserve my own judgments for the time when I have all the facts.”

In the meantime, all of our kids, including Trevor, were blessed beyond measure, growing up in a world of assurance that they loved and were loved. They were given a sense of purpose that carried them into adulthood where they continue to make us smile at the love they have for God and all of us.

These wonderful things could have happened anywhere, I know. But the fact is, they happened while our family was being “poured out” at the Feet of Jesus. Whatever sacrifices there were are overshadowed by the blessings, heaped up and overflowing.

I hope to share with you some of those “pouring out stories” stories in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading. Please keep sharing your own journey with me and don’t forget to comment to us at marsha@mywoods.net as well!

Marsha

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