Why Following God Will Not Always be Easy
- Kate McCord Author
- 2015 13 Oct
In January 2001, I sat in a friend’s living room, surrounded by the members of my small group and quietly announced, “I believe God’s calling me to Afghanistan.”
My friends protested. “No. He’s not.”
In those days, the Taliban ruled the country and what few reports we saw were full of horror and oppression. How could God possibly call anyone there? I tucked the dream into my pocket, kept praying, and waited. Less than a year later, the Towers fell and I knew God was calling me to Afghanistan. I returned to my small group, and this time they agreed.
On my first trip to Afghanistan, a woman covered in a light blue burqa grabbed my hand and, through her tears and the help of a translator, told me the story of the day she lost seven sons in one Taliban bomb. I knelt on the ground and with my own tears, shared her loss. I knew, even as I did, that Christ shared her loss as well.
When Jesus suffered the brutal horror of His passion, He loved this precious, grieving mother. When He invited me to sit in the dust beside her, He showed her His love.
I knew why God had called me to Afghanistan – because He loves the people of Afghanistan. He loves the people of Syria and Yemen, too. He loves the refugees flooding into Europe. He loves the brave and frightened people who will receive them into their communities. God loves and calls us to love. Sometimes, He calls us to love sacrificially.
Of course, it doesn’t make sense. How could it? We are raised to pursue the American dream. We lose our focus and equate the good life with God’s Shalom, His blessing. Yet God’s blessing is found in walking with Him, wherever He leads, no matter how much it costs. But would God really lead His precious, beautiful children into a dangerous place?
I look to Jesus and know the answer.
The God of the universe wrapped Himself in the body of a child and entered a very dangerous place - our world. He lived, taught, healed, suffered, and died to show the depth of God’s love for each one of us; Jew, Gentile, American, Afghan. Then, He asked us to carry His expensive love to the darkest corners of the earth.
When I returned from my first trip to Afghanistan, my friends in America looked into my eyes and understood. I showed them photographs of people; old women, young children, striding men – all precious human beings whom God has loved from the foundations of the world. “These,” I said, “belong at the table and until they come, their places are empty.”
We know that God doesn’t want anyone to die a Christ-less death. He wants all to turn and come to Him. God’s love is always expressed in action. Jesus came to our world then said to us, “Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame… Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.” (Lk 14:21-23) God loves the people of the world so much that He sent His only begotten Son and then, His only begotten Son sent us.
Over the years, as I worked in Afghanistan, my small group members and other brothers and sisters walked with me through their prayers, encouragement, and financial support. They looked at my pictures, read my stories, and shared in my joys. They also tasted my sorrows. From the relative safety of America, they saw my frustrations, my discouragements, and the deterioration of my physical health. When other workers were brutally killed, my American friends tasted my fears and shuddered at my losses.
Everyone who’s walked with me knows that it was hard. We reminded one another; Jesus never said it would be easy. Quite the opposite. “In the world, you will have tribulation.” (Jn 16:33)
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And in truth, I’ve tasted trouble and suffering – my own and that of others around me. I would have collapsed beneath the weight had Christ not companioned me. And yet He did. He was always with me, even in the darkest moments. Even when I couldn’t find Him. I walked with Jesus in Afghanistan. Through the journey, my faith was purified and my love for God and my neighbors deepened.
Others, workers from the four corners of the earth, all speak of their journeys in dangerous places as a privilege. We each count ourselves grateful for the gifts we’ve received through both the joys and the sufferings we’ve experienced with Christ.
And what about my friends back home? What about the members of my small group, my family, and my church community? I’ve watched so many who love me weep and shudder at the horrors of my experiences and I’ve wondered; why would anyone want to share such a journey?
In emails, Facebook messages, and one on one conversations, friends and family members shared their stories with me. They talked of being lifted above their desires for safety, comfort, and predictability. They recounted their own experiences of being drawn more deeply into the painfully sacrificial love of Christ. They celebrated their freedom from the small worries and concerns that choke their spiritual roots. They saw how their love for distant strangers strengthened their love for those in their homes, communities, workplaces, and churches. They, too, count themselves privileged.
I’ve asked God, “Why would You call us to dangerous places?” and I’ve seen His answer. God calls some of us to dangerous places because He longs to share His love with all of us.
Kate McCord, author of “Why God Calls us to Dangerous Places”, “In the Land of Blue Burqas” and “Farewell Four Waters” lived her Christian identity and served as an Aid worker in Afghanistan for nine years. During her time in country, Kate learned the local language and developed deep and lasting friendships with local Afghans. Currently, Kate spends her time writing and providing spiritual direction for those exploring a call to cross-cultural life.
Publication date: October 13, 2015
Image courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com