I’ve had a lot of opportunity to think lately about what it is that compels me to “run into the darkness”... what is it that makes this born-and-bred North American girl, with a tendency toward cleanliness and comfort, spend so much time in the darkest and most uncomfortable places of the world?
My closest friends smile graciously when they speak of their amazement that I survive the heat, the dirt and the filth for weeks at a time in rural Africa, Asia, and the like. It is a strange reality. I am not a “natural adventurer” as some missionaries are — and I don’t think anyone who has known me for a lot of my life would have expected me to be where I am today, doing what I do.
As I’ve worked in 90+ degree heat, day after day, with filth surrounding me, holding the hands of HIV-infected children, uncomfortable, dirty, eating foods that are both strange and sometimes suspect, I’ve thought about motivation a lot. As I’ve found myself financially vulnerable and trusting God alone for the supply of my daily needs, I’ve thought about motivation a lot. Sometimes, I become very human. Sometimes very tired. And, at those times, I have to think about motivation. About my sense of calling. About the why.
The answer though, never takes long to find. The motivation is love.
Not some super-human love that I’ve managed to conjure up for hurting people (although that often is a bi-product), but rather the embracing love of God for me. I am captured by a God who loves me so very much. Enough to not dismiss me as worthless when I fail him. Enough to gently look beyond my weaknesses. Enough to reach down to every human and declare them worth redeeming, no matter what their past or present, regardless of their mistakes or behaviors. The love God has for mankind...for me and for you... is not something I am capable of understanding fully, because it is completely unconditional, not dependent on my performance, just simply love without strings.
I love being embraced by that love. It makes me see the world through the eyes of the giver of that love... to be grieved by what grieves Him, and, as a natural reaction to true love, want to share it... in practical ways... anywhere... anytime. Even in a dirty, disease-infested village in Africa.
"For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love." - Romans 8:38 NLT