I heard this week, that my missionary friend to South Africa (who finally returned, just after Easter) is getting settled nicely and moving forward in this great work. He had contacted the church to thank us , once again, for the love and support he had received during his time back home and the healing process following the loss of his wife last May.
It struck me yesterday morning... not that I didn't know this or expect it already, just how much of an adjustment this will be for my friend. His life partner is with the Lord and while we rejoice in that, still the pain and struggle is real.
Meanwhile, though, new opportunities await, as he had actually been turning down chances to do more ministry because of the health concerns and limitations of his wife during her remaining time on the field.
Re-entry into an environment after you've been off the scene for a while has it challenges.
Similarly, I learned a few weeks ago of a friend, who a while back had experienced a failure in life while in ministry. The details aren't important, especially since I don't have any specifics to mention if I wanted to; but what is important is the healing and restoration process that this individual and their family have gone through with the assistance and direction of church officials and the support of the body of Christ (many of whom, as I said, probably weren't aware of this process until it's completion) Be that as it may... they too, when the time comes, will experience the joys and the struggles of re-entry.
It's an interesting dynamic when you think about it. We hear and see about how rough and challenging this process is when astronauts return from space... that looks to be like a fun ride! Yet life, is different. Sure it's exciting, for new opportunities and challenges, it can be a thrilling adventure. But if we aren't careful, we can be attacked.
Unrealistic expectations of what we can and will accomplish this time compared to the last. Feelings of regret and frustration that things aren't like they were before and if only different decisions were made or certain events hadn't happened. It's like you've been on the outside of your own life... perhaps like a solider on the battlefield. Removed from what and who they know; they come back to a life that has progressed in their absence with the memories of an environment they wish they could forget. An incredibly difficult re-entry process from many.
But God's grace is sufficient. Necessary. Critical.
On this #missionsFriday, pray for these... missionaries and pastors (as well as those who serve the armed forces, if you'll permit me to add them in, which you will because I just did :-) who are re-entering the mission field and the ministry, as well as life in general. Indeed, pray for the grace of God to be resident in their lives as they find their place and purpose under a new set of circumstances, with a different perspective, and a fresh understanding of who God is and what He has planned for their lives. Pray for the struggle of re-entry.... may regret and frustration and second guesses be laid at the foot of the cross, as these remain focused on Christ. May they commit their ways and plans to the Lord; may their steps be directed of the Lord; their paths made straight and illuminated. Pray against a spirit of confusion and anxiety; but may their confidence rest in their Lord; the strength of their faith fortified; the call made overwhelmingly clear... this. This is the way I have for you.
Just a man, attempting to fulfill God's plan. Husband, Dad, Dreamer. Blogger.