Is It Worth It?
Those lovely pictures of the first strawberries of the season, packs of petunias and marigolds ready for planting, and mud squishing between little toes are what started it. A longing for Somewhere Where I Wasn’t. Spring, my favorite season when I’d lived in the States, meant none of those things in Belize. Instead spring now meant wiping sweat, chasing dogs out of my flowerbeds, and ministering to people who seemed to have more interest in my pocket book than the Black Book. Is it worth it? Why live so far from our families when our efforts yield so few results anyway?
We had just come through a low time where several members left the church, we were being harassed by a mentally unstable man, and I was pregnant with our fourth child. I was weary in body and soul. Looking at the pictures sent us from up North—and let me hasten to add, we enjoyed those pictures—I couldn’t help but wish that I was a normal housewife grilling hamburgers by a lake, going to yard sales, and planting a garden.
Why am I putting myself through this? I could live close to my mom, allow my children the privilege of growing up with their cousins, relax in an air-conditioned house. No one really appreciates our efforts here anyway.
That nagging question: Is it worth it? Is. It. Worth. It? Ms. Freda who’s been a missionary much longer than I have, chuckled when I asked her and said, “You think I haven’t gone through this struggle myself?” I was a little surprised. Ms. Freda seems perfectly content in Belize. She tirelessly ministers to the stream of people that come to her door and has a way of letting every person who comes to church know that she cares about them. If I know anyone who reveals Christ in action, it’s Ms. Freda. So her struggle surprised me. “Oh yes,” she said, “I live far from my married children, and sometimes I don’t get to see a new grandbaby ‘til they are nearly a year old.”
It’s not hard for me to see that it’s worth it for Mr. Eldon and Ms. Freda to be living here. Sometimes I think they are the glue that holds our church together. They have blessed so many people, myself among them. If nothing else, she has provided the mom figure I crave while my own is so far away. And the wealth of knowledge and experience that is mine for the asking! Then there are the Bible studies they hold with new Christians, the down-and-out people that depend on them for a listening ear, the neighbors who come to give Ms. Freda new plants and leave with seeds of the Gospel. Of course it’s worth it—for them!
As I grappled with these feelings, we reached the Sunday school lesson on the faith of Abraham. God had lessons there for me. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:” (Genesis 12:1,2).
In a minuscule way, I can identify with Abram. I too left my country and went to an unfamiliar land. I wonder if Abraham ever asked, “Is this worth it?” And while the Bible doesn’t tell us much of what Sarah thought, she must have struggled with some doubts as well.
When I look on Abraham’s life hundreds of years later, there is no doubt that it was worth it. Yet Hebrews 11 tells us he needed faith to venture out to an unfamiliar place. Because of that faith, generations have been blessed.
I shared some of my struggles of a weak faith with the women in my Sunday school class. “Yes, of course it’s worth it. If no one had ever left their country, there probably wouldn’t be a church here today,” elderly Ms. Dorothy said. She has been a church member for years. Several of her grown children are also church members. Her granddaughter, sitting beside me, is a beautiful young lady who is now teaching at our school.
I can see, just as clearly as I could for Abraham, that all the sacrifices have not been in vain for those first church planters. It was worth it for them to come to the bush of Belize and live with no electricity or telephone so they could share Christ so Ms. Dorothy and others could learn about Christ. I know the sacrifices of those in the past were worth it. Why do I so doubt my link in this chain?
Perhaps it’s because I know best my humanity. I get annoyed when a neighbor needs something at bedtime, I don’t feel like making tea for the homeless man who comes during lunch, I get frustrated when I give the battered girlfriend money to leave her man, only for her to return in a few days. And yet God has never reserved his work for perfect people—thankfully. He wants to keep polishing my rough edges, but He will not let my humanity stop His plans.
While I struggle daily to be a representative of Christ in this village and in my home, I need to don my glasses of faith. Rather than looking around for nonexistent results or—worse—taking credit for results, I must choose to believe that God is working beyond human sight. If I could see how everything was going to work out, it would erase the need for faith.
Someday I will stand before Christ, and when I hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant,” the bowls of ice cream, the air-conditioned house, the first red strawberries—I could sacrifice them too for that.