Where Love Leads

Princess Lodge Denali sign postI used to be able to say I’ve lived abroad for most of my adult life.  As I grow older in America, I’m losing the truth of that.  Because it was once true, I still tend to think of myself as an expatriate (expat) down deep in my heart.  While the depths of my heart may no longer hold that truth, it is still an integral part of my identity.

I spend a good part of my time training people how to live cross-culturally.  Part of what I tell them is from my own experience. Part of what they hear is from colleague’s experiences.  Another part of the information they receive comes from expats I have yet to meet but either follow on twitter, find them via a blog recommendation, or read in research somewhere (generally the internet).  While I’m no longer an official part of the expat community, in many ways I feel more connected to it than ever before.

Yesterday I followed a link to this article.  It’s worth reading, but in short it says people leave their cultural roots to go abroad for many reasons.  The author says the voluntary expat (not one who moves because a government or business requires it), moves for love.   Love for another person, of course, but also love for wine, a more compatible lifestyle, and an entrepreneurial opportunity.

It made me think about myself and the people I work with most closely.  Why do we go?  Why do we uproot ourselves from the comfortably familiar to move to the unknown?  Why do we give up geographical proximity to friends and family to create new relationships in urban centers and remote corners of the world?

It’s the same answer: Love.  Love compels us to go.  Not romantic love.  Not infatuation with a pace of life.  Not anything but love.

I think I John 4: 19-21 sums it up pretty well.  We can and do love others because we know the love of God.  He loved us so much he gave his only son, the Christ, for us.  How can we not go?  How can we not tell others?  How can we not demonstrate this love to people who have never heard of it?

Love redeemed us.  Incarnational ministry is a logical step in living out that love before others. They can’t experience the love of redemption if they don’t believe it. They can’t believe unless they hear about it and see it in action.  They can’t experience it unless someone is sent to them to live out the truth of love. (My paraphrase of Romans 10:14-15.)

I know not everyone can go to the far corners of the earth.  Some are meant to live love in their own country.  Some are meant to partner with those who are compelled to go by praying for them, by providing the logistical and financial support they need.  Others are meant to hold them up through words and acts of encouragement.  It takes many villages to show the love of One to a world of many.

For the people I work with and the people who partner with me to make that work a reality, Henry Martyn’s words come alive every day.  He said, “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.”  Drawing near to Love urges us to leave what’s near and dear so we can “be Jesus with skin on” to those who would have difficulty encountering him otherwise.

That’s where Love leads me.  Where does it lead you?

photo courtesy of Bunny Lenburg

Today I’ve joined the Faith Barista’s Faith Jam.  Every week Bonnie’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith and life related topic.  This is my riff on “Love.”  I’d love to read your thoughts on the topic.  Please leave a comment or a link to your blog if you’ve jammed on this.  And if you haven’t blogged on it, please leave some of your thoughts in the comment section below.  If you’re interested in seeing what others had to say, please follow the link over to the Faith Barista site.

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10 Responses to “Where Love Leads”

  1. MalloryFebruary 17, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Love.Love.Love. THIS! People do crazy things for love, and missions is definitely no exception.

  2. SherylFebruary 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    We are kinda crazy, aren’t we? 🙂

  3. Amy NaborsFebruary 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    I think this is the most self-less kind of love. Giving up everything to do and love missions.

  4. SherylFebruary 17, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    I can only speak for myself, Amy, but in so many ways I’ve felt like Job. God has given me back more than I started with in so many ways.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. judyFebruary 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    What? I thought people did this for the money? And the SAND? And the lack of electricity? Heehee. Good stuff you have put on here lately, Miss O. I have been recommending your blog to many others. Keep it up.

  6. SherylFebruary 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm #

    The sand is definitely a draw . . . not sure which rates higher—the sand, the lack of electricity, or filtering your own drinking water. Oh–no! The glorious diseases with the word “tropical” in front of them—that’s always a big draw. 🙂 Thanks, Judy—for the laugh and for the encouragement. It”s nice to have my own PR woman!

  7. Lisa notes...February 18, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Where does love lead me? Lately it’s been leading me to “surrender.” There are certain things that I feel I should be able to do, but if God isn’t opening doors, then I’m not supposed to kick them in. Love leads me to surrender my will to his. Not easy though! Thanks for sharing this.

  8. CherylFebruary 18, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    For love. I don’t feel like I’ve given up very much, because I do love it here. Of course, when Dad fell sick, I wished I could cash it all in and go back to the US. And it is lonely at times. But I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

  9. SherylFebruary 18, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Lisa—I love the image of you kicking in doors! I can see you in a good martial arts pose, ready to strike and then cocking your ear to hear God say, “Not now.” Great picture. Thanks for stopping by. I do like Jamming with you.

    Soul—Of course you love it there. It’s where God put you, but there are still things you sacrifice. Family proximity and the time that goes with it is a big one. There are always trade offs. I don’t want to give the impression that it’s a horrid life of sadness and wretchedness. It’s not, but there are definite sacrifices even if you’re in an amazingly wonderful place.

  10. dunlizzieFebruary 19, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    Great post! It is so true. Love is the only answer. God bless 🙂

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