I wear a special badge most days – it’s the Missionary Badge of Honor. I like my life as a missionary in Southeast Asia. I relish in the fact that I live in such a crazy and foreign place that looks like something out of National Geographic. I think it’s pretty miraculous that I can actually function in this new-to-me-world in a reasonably confident manner. Sure, I get stressed out sometimes but a part of me is always whispering the same awed refrain, “God is using me in Indonesia!”
This morning as I sleepily began my quiet time, visions of the 60 kids coming to my English Club each week were dancing in my head. I was remembering my husband’s story of returning a healthy patient back to the village after medevac-ing her out a few weeks ago. I whispered praise to God for using us so miraculously here in Central Borneo – truly this is something I am in awe of, because it so clearly is God working through these clay vessels.
Then I opened up my devotional reading for the day. Oswald Chambers isn’t one to mince words:
Jesus Christ says, in effect, don’t rejoice in successful service, but rejoice because you are rightly related to Me. The snare of Christian work is to rejoice in successful service, to rejoice in the fact that God has used you. “ – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
It never occurred to me that there is something wrong with my thinking. What is wrong with enjoying the place God has placed me? What is wrong with that feeling of pride I get when I look around and realize that God is doing something beautiful in Indonesia and I’m a small part of it? To be content where God places us is wonderful and it isn’t wrong to recognize how God is working in and through us…but it’s that ugly pride that trips us up. It’s that Badge of Honor that we carefully polish and pin on our shirts each day as we “serve Him.” We begin to lose our focus, we forget how desperately we need Christ and that all our best service is still filthy rags compared to a Holy God.
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 (emphasis mine)
As I read the Scripture above I saw something I’d never seen in that familiar verse – “he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Contrary to how I may be acting, it doesn’t say that God will reward those who earnestly serve him. He only wants me to seek Him, to have that vital relationship that is focused only on Him and not on what I can accomplish for Him. God doesn’t need my service. He only wants me.