I went to a missionary conference last Saturday where one of the speakers kept referring to her former place of service as "we." She kept apologizing for that we. But, I knew what was tripping her up.
She may not be serving in that field anymore, but she left a chunk of herself there. And it will always be a place of "we" for her.
That is the thing. Investing your time, talent or treasure in a person, an experience, or place, always involves giving up a chunk of yourself forever.
David Livingstone devoted his entire life to the exploration and evangelism of Africa. He walked 30,000 miles over the course of many years. He loved Africa and the people of Africa. Interestingly enough, his heart really was left there. When he died, his body was buried in the distinguished Westminster Abbey. But, his heart? Well, that is buried under a tree in the land he loved.
All of us might not leave our hearts so physically in these people, places and experiences that we have served and funded. But, tangibly or intangibly, we have become interwoven with the interests of these things and people we are supporting or have supported.
Alumni societies are built on this principle. This is why there is such a thing as sports team rivalries. People get really passionate about who they are rooting for in the various sports seasons. Because they attended a game that has great memories for them. Or they attended the school and invested thousands of dollars and several years for their education. Whatever the reasons, there are ties built.
How much more so in Christian service?! First, we have the common bond of being brothers and sisters in Christ. One body.
We also have the bonds of prayer, service, and giving. Each one of those threads is an investment in that person or ministry. Each thread is woven into our common story making the bond stronger. So that it is no longer me and you, but us and we.
It is inclusive.
John Fawcett, many, many years ago, put it this way...
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
Our comforts, and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
When we got on the plane from Tokyo to Jakarta last winter, and then again from Pontianak to home, it was a bittersweet moment. I literally felt tuggings in my heart. We had made new friendships and renewed old ones. We lived their lives-if only for a brief time. We served their children. We gave of our time and talents. We had been forever changed.
There is a bond there. I can't even put it into words exactly. But it so moves my heart that I am tearing up as I am writing this. We are burdened to pray for our friends. We are invested in their well being. We write, we give, we pray.
If they are fruitful and prosper and flourish (if their kids are fruitful and prosper and flourish), we are being fruitful and prospering and flourishing. That's the truth. Their interests are now our interests. Their concerns are our concerns. We are joined together forever, because of a brief meeting. A brief investment in the measure of eternity. A forever investment in terms of a piece of ourselves.
Who or what has a piece of you?