Just finished my first week back on the job in Papua. One thing that strikes me with renewed freshness is the the sheer impossibility of what we're trying to do out here. 256 different people groups scattered across 153,000 square miles of deep jungle, swamp and mountains. The physical barriers are almost as difficult to traverse as the staggering linguistic and cultural divides. And we're trying to be a part of reaching them with a small group of diverse missionaries and four little airplanes? Ludicrous.
But the enormity of the job isn't what really gives me pause: it's how fragile and tenuous a hold that this partnership of wandering and sometimes faithless disciples have on this beachhead...particularly when I look up at the mountains facing us and consider the list of things that would threaten to undo us. It's not the passive opposition of the impassable terrain, the enormity of the task and the limited resources that is the most daunting--it's the active opposition, in its seemingly endless variety of forms, that would love to keep us from moving off the beach at all. From my limited human perspective, there simply is no way that we will succeed in what we have set out to do here.
Earlier this week, as I was praying about the challenges facing us, I was struck by the stark contrast between the relatively manageable and straight-forward life I'd just left in the U.S. and the ridiculously huge challenges facing a small group of weak and flawed followers of Jesus out here at the end of the earth. The interesting thing was that while the vast majority of my cowardly person wanted to run and hide (and maybe make things spiritual by praying for a David to come slay our Goliath) something in my soul didn't shrink back from this totally untenable situation. As crazy as it sounds, the part of me that actually smiled at the mountain of challenges was saying something like, it is really good to be back where there are no illusions of success without the powerful intervention God.
Obviously, you don't have to leave your home country to put yourself in a position of ridiculous dependence on God, but you do have to surrender to following Jesus wherever he leads. And I can promise you he'll lead you away from the safety and security of your comfort zone...to a place of sweet and utter dependence on him.