I used to think the best investment of life was to be a missionary in some far away place. It seemed a noble desire—to go to a foreign land, leaving my comfort zones for a higher cause. In my mind, there was no greater sacrifice.
Many years have passed since that desire first entered my heart. I’ve gone as far as Russia and the Philippines, and as close as the Dominican Republic. My stay in each place was no longer than a couple months. The only mission field I stayed in long-term was the inner city of Chicago, where I lived for almost fifteen years. My calling always kept me closer to home than I’d originally planned. But here on the home front, I’ve learned some significant things I may not have learned elsewhere.
The greatest sacrifice we can make is the here and now. We don’t have to travel to some exotic place to lay down our lives. When my husband and I first began our adoption journey, we were set on going overseas until we heard a radio program where the host noted how prone we are to step over the needs outside our own door in pursuit of what we mistakenly believe is the greater need across the sea. That comment led us to consider how many children in our country need a loving home, which, in turn, led us to our amazing kids.
I don’t mean to undermine the sacrifices made by those involved in overseas missions. One of my missionary friends lives in a hut in a remote African village, walks miles for basic supplies, washes her few sets of clothes in a jungle river, and often eats fried termites for dinner. But even she said there’s a monotonous routine on the mission field that’s not so glorious. Wherever we are, it comes down to the daily letting go—the motive of the heart in the sacrifice of the moment.
We often think of love as one big sacrifice, but we can’t forget the countless moment-by-moment sacrifices involved in true love. A marriage isn’t defined by the wedding day, but by the constancy of every day sacrifice for one another. A missional life isn’t defined by one big trip across the globe, but by loving and meeting the needs of those we encounter on a daily basis.
The whole idea convicts and challenges me. What needs do my own neighbors have? How about my co-workers, friends, and family members? If I’m not sacrificing here and now for those in my current sphere of influence, what makes me think a one-way airplane trip will change anything? Because true love is not about where we go. It’s about loving people wherever we are.