Thursday, May 13, 2010

Doing The Best With Stress

Do me a favor, take this stress test.

I took this as an end of term evaluation, see if you can guess my score:

We had a miscarriage.
My father died.
My grandmother died.
We have moved 8 times.
I changed my career.
We moved to another country and culture.
We have been victims of armed robbery 4 times.
Once we were in the line of gunfire.
We have been in three earthquakes.
We have spent 75 days at home due to political unrest.
We have experienced one miscarriage, and one birth. We have learned a new language—or tried to learn it.
One child finished High School.
We have had two children leave home to live on another continent.
We have changed our eating habits and diet.
We have had major financial issues.
Our house has flooded.
We have had two sales contracts not go through on our house.
We are re-financing our mortgage.
My salary seriously decreased.
Our living conditions radically changed (comfort levels)
We have been to the hospital 8 times due to illness or injury.
We have had amoebas/parasites 156 times.

These are things that I have thought of off the top of my head, just sitting here and typing.

My score? It was over 900 on this site, a little under 900 at another site with slightly different questions. Both sites say that if you have over 300 you have an 80% chance of getting a stress related illness.

I don’t know about you, but its Friday night and I am all stressed up with no where to go.

Living on the mission field does bring about a lot of stress, but stress isn’t always bad. Stress tests have to be done to structures in order to reveal their worthiness. Would you want to drive over a high bridge or be on the top floor of a building that had never been stressed tested? Or would you want take a plane on a cross Atlantic trip if its construction process had not been stress tested? The time to check the seaworthiness of a ship is before it is in the middle of the ocean.

A stress test at the doctor can reveal the health of your heart and lungs. Stress is indeed a test that reveals things.

For the Christian, it reveals your heart and your dependence upon Christ. It is easy to ‘live for Jesus’ when you life is comfortable, finances are good, and people are nice to you. However, how do you respond when none of the above is in place?

I have several times taught on spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit can be seen by the kneejerk reaction ‘in my heart’ when something happens to me. I am not talking about what I do, but what I want to do….not how I respond but how I want to respond, when life takes a negative turn. Your heart, your thoughts, your desires in times of financial, emotional, physical, and relational stress reveals your fruit. It shows the reality of you relationship with Jesus. It magnifies the hypocrisy that could result in everything coming apart, the holes in your very structure.

What has the stress in my life revealed to me?

I need Jesus. Isn’t it amazing how easy it is to preach and teach lost people that they need Jesus Christ in their lives to forgive their sins and restore their relationship with the Father, but at the same time forget how much we need Jesus right now? I need Jesus. Not I needed Jesus. Nor is it that if this or that doesn’t happen then I will need Jesus.

Nope. The fact is that right now in this breath and heartbeat I need the truth of Calvary and the Person of Christ in my life.

Another thing that stress reveals is that I need you. The truth of the “One-Anothers” of the Bible are magnified on the field where there may not be a ‘nuther’ for your ‘one’. I need family and friends. I need people that I share a history and a culture with. I need someone that can truly understand me.

This is the main reason for Home Assignment. Mission agencies have realized that no matter how effective a missionary is on the field, they need to occasionally go home and seriously stress-out…let the stress out of their lives. Home Assignment is a time to reconnect with our own culture. It is a time to pick up those face to face relationships that leaving for the field put on pause. It is a time to laugh with someone who shares your sense of humor (which other cultures simply do not). It is an opportunity to be with other Christians who share your sense of call and desire to impact the world. Think about it. Even the Apostle Paul kept returning back home after every one of his mission trips to share his journey with his personal friends and supporters.

We are coming home. Not because we want to leave the field, nor any other negative reason. We are coming home to share, laugh, connect, join, and regroup for our next term.

We can’t wait to see you! Help us laugh our stress away!

IN Jesus,