Friday, May 17, 2013

Missionaries ~ Then and Now

Way Back Then

Since I've been writing about missionaries this month, I thought I'd share a few things that missionaries love. Okay, some things I love, especially this one thing. And, just for the record, my husband and I are not in this picture.

Some of my dearest friends are my most faithful encouragers. Some have been my friends for many years and others for a short time––but all are my blessings from the Lord. One precious friend of mine made a promise to me many years ago. In a sweet voice she said, "You don't look like a missionary, but if you ever do, I'll let you know." She never has, but then she doesn't see me in my Quechua niche or in my office at midnight or early morning. I border on a little scary at those times. You'll find my head buried in my computer, my Bible, and all those helps books for writers. I'll be sitting in my pajamas, sweater, fuzzy slippers or socks, and usually not one thing matches another. And, sometimes I may be pulling at my hair that looks a little like Einstein's. Too bad what lies beneath the hair (brain) doesn't look like his.

So what does a missionary look like anyway? That question has been haunting me for the last few weeks because another dear friend recently wrote and told me this. "You don't look like a missionary, and you don't act like one either." I know she meant it as a compliment because I tend to be a little crazy around my friends. I keep them laughing––at me, with me, it's not important as long as we are enjoying each other. That's not the missionary you expect to see in the pulpit. Am I right? So yes, I embrace that statement as a compliment.

And yes, I love it when someone comments that I don't look like a missionary. You know that image of the little bun, long skirt, and sad, serious look. Not me at all! Friends tell me they usually can find me by following the giggling down the hall at church or conferences. And how I look––I'll be the missionary in designer jeans I found for a bargain or at Good Will (love that place), and the hairdo that I cut and color myself and never comb. I love the windblown look. It's easy. That look is far from the look of my 20's––first rollers, then tease and spray, and then please don't touch! I never had to worry about a windblown look back then––not even a tornado could have moved that stiff hairdo.

After mulling over my friend's email about how I look and act, I had a whoa moment! I stopped in my tracks that day and examined myself––as God says to do in I Corinthians 11:28. So here's what I learned from God's Word when I delved in to find how a missionary should act and look.

When I was a teenager, I was chosen to model prom gowns for a popular store near our hometown. I have to admit, I only desired to walk down that runway and look like a model. But what does God say about how we should look and act? He says, "Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity..." Titus 2:7 (ESV) Now that is what I desire to model––good works! That's what a missionary should look like––modeling good works! Then he says to show integrity and dignity––and that's how a missionary should act––showing integrity and dignity.

But we know that verse is not only written to missionaries who cross the seas but to all Christians. And after all, everyone who has received Christ as his Savior is a missionary––sharing God's message wherever we are in the world! My goal of how I look to the world––a model of good works. And my goal of how I should act––with integrity and dignity.

So no more worries of how I look or act because this is my goal:

"Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1 (NIV)

I love it when I'm told I don't look or act like a missionary because that's not my goal. But I do hope glimpses of God can be seen through my life because it is my goal to imitate Him––to act and look like Him!

More Recent "Then"

Yikes, maybe our first prayer card from 1981 does resemble the picture at the top of this post!


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