As the hot water pelted me this morning, familiar hymns burst from me.
I didn’t grow up in the church, didn’t feast on a staple of hymns. I learned them well into my teens after I’d met Jesus. I had this tape (see how old I am) of a group called the Second Chapter of Acts singing the hymns. When I attended Urbana 87, a huge missions conference in the Midwest, that tape came with me. I belted it whenever I could. It accompanied me on my journey of missions.
Fast forward nearly twenty years. I’m in the shower today, struggling with the realities (not the romance!) of life on the mission field. If I could describe it, I’d define it this way:
The mission field is where you fall apart, piece by piece, and God resurrects you.
I believe I’m on the cusp of resurrection, but lingering sadness of losing pieces of myself stayed with me in the shower. Out of nowhere, I started singing. Loud. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see. I sang that song over my grandmother’s grave a few years ago, but I can’t recall singing it since.
The louder I sang, the more I realized my need for amazing grace. I’m so terribly flawed, folks. In the church culture, we’ve created this strange ladder of spiritual success. It looks something like this:
- Say the prayer, inviting Jesus into your life.
- Read the Bible, memorizing parts of it.
- Be a Bible study leader.
- Sing in the choir.
- Be a pastor.
- And the seventh level of spirituality is this: live the life of a missionary.
I’ve made it, apparently. But now that I’m here, I’m back to step one, daily asking Jesus to please come into my life, to help me. The truth is that missionaries are just like other folks. We are cranky sometimes. Needy. Broken. Testy. We don’t always parent well. We have conflicts. We can’t always manage our time well. We burn out. We face disappointment. We’re like the rest of the folks on the earth just trying to live life on a fallen planet.
Next in my shower cathedral I sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” What a good reminder that God showers His faithfulness on me every morning. That His faithfulness doesn’t run out like Middle Eastern oil. It’s new every morning.
And last, I sang my favorite song from the hymns album:
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
‘Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!
Jesus loves me, this I know. I sang it to Him with the shower as my piano, and He sang it back over me. New. Every. Morning.