Civilian Pursuits.

Tonight I have a lot on my mind. I’ve known for quite awhile that I want to go on a short term “mission” or volunteering of some sort. But this week it struck me that I have less than a year to figure out what. So I read basically everything on the Mission to the World (MTW) website, and contacted their recruiter. I talked with her for half an hour about their different opportunities, and whether I should do a summer internship, or a 1-3 year short term mission. They have missionaries and programs all over the globe, most of whom have a need for people to do anything from teaching English, nursing work, office stuff, helping with youth outreach, mercy ministries, and bible schools for kids.

So, I’m filling out the application for the 1-3 year commitment to cover my bases, since the deadline is Tuesday. But my parents are much more in favor of me doing a summer internship, so as not to bite off more than I can chew, and to be sure this really is the direction I should go. I’m going to Haiti in December for a 10 days, and that should give me some idea if I want to pursue medical missions/mercy ministries, or something else.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I don’t know if this is what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. These verses come to mind:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. – James 4
The heart of man plans his way,but the LORD establishes his steps.

I don’t want to boast in arrogance, claiming I know what the years ahead will bring. And even 19 short years has taught me that the surest way to make God laugh is to tell him your “plans” 🙂 But this is something I truly feel that God has placed on my heart and mind. I feel like this is something I need to do.

All of this isn’t even really to the point, it’s just clarifying I suppose. What I’ve been thinking is this: I am so easily preoccupied and consumed by relatively meaningless things. I get all stressed about not being experienced at my job, or that I need to lose ten pounds, or that I’m upset at this or that person, or obsessed with this tv series, or I’m having a bad hair day. And, sure, these are all things (except TV maybe ) have their place and need to be dealt with accordingly. But what is my overarching purpose? What am I waking up for every morning? And when I start my day, am I looking to serve myself, or others? Am I trying to get glory for me, or for the Lord? I so, so easily slip into the “peacetime mentality”. I feel like no spectacular struggle or huge problem is going on, so it’s not a big deal if I skipped my bible reading and prayer time today.


Every day, we have an enemy who relentlessly pursues us, and sin that rages from within (however insidiously and deceitfully), and it will never let up until the day we die. When we think everything is hunky dory, when we think maybe we have a ceasefire going on and we can just coast for a little while, that’s when we stumble. As John Owen said “Be killing sin, or it will be killing you.” Every day, we are either gaining ground or losing it.

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. – 1 Cor. 10:12

To quote John Piper:

“Life is war. That’s not all it is. But it is always that. Our weakness in prayer is largely owing to our neglect of this truth.. Prayer is primarily a wartime walkie-talkie for the mission of the church as it advances against the powers of darkness and unbelief. It is not suprising that prayer malfunctions when we try to make it a domestic intercom to call upstairs for more comforts in the den.”

Life is war.

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. – 2 Tim. 2:4

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. – 1 Tim. 6:12

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.   – Eph. 6:13

Now, being a good Presbyterian, I know that some of this might sounds like it’s all about works and what we have to do. But really, it’s just recognizing truths of scripture – and exhortations given us in scripture! And most of all, recognizing our total, absolute, and profound dependence on our God. Apart from him we can do no good thing. So, in my mind, it’s the opposite. It’s seeing that we are helpless in and of ourselves, and so our only recourse is to lean on him.

In summary, we’re commanded to fight. To strive to enter that rest (Heb 4:11). To run so as to obtain the prize (1 Cor. 9:24). To wage the good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18). To strive together in prayer (Rom. 15:30). And to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:11).

I don’t want to waste my life on civilian pursuits. I want to please the one who enlisted me. Because his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.  Because those who come to him will never hunger, neither will they thirst. Because he loves us. Because he has redeemed my life from the pit, and set my feet upon the Rock. Because he has cast all my sins behind his back. Because he has made me clean. Because he works all things for the good of those who love him. Because he is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Because when we are faithless, yet he is faithful, for he cannot disown himself. Because in his presence there is fullness of joy. And because he is the only being in the universe who is altogether holy and worthy of our praise.


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3 Responses to Civilian Pursuits.

  1. alexi says:

    You should read the book “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself” by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert.

  2. rlaase2 says:

    Alexi! My mom has that on the church book table, and I was just looking at it and I want to read it as soon as I finish the 2 books I’m working on now 🙂

  3. Tary says:

    Seriously, talk to Susanna Bennett. Even though she went to a different country, I’m pretty sure she would be a good resource at this point in the decision-making process, as I’m sure she has struggled with some of these same issues.
    Tary Medberry

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