Our mission trip ends today. It’s been a good week. After a broken down plane and a long haul here, we spent several days hugging kids and teaching lessons and doing crafts and visiting Pow Wows and driving vans that only have one gear, or so it seemed.
Today we worship with the church and then leave. It’s been a good week. The week is ending.
Sooner or later, it all ends. There are a lot of goodbyes in life. I’ve learned to deal with them over the years, but they don’t come easy. Names and faces will roll around in my head for months to come. On return trips, I’ll search for certain kids. I still remember DeJean and DeWayne, two brothers I gave piggy back rides to on a trip to the projects of Washington D.C. ten years ago this summer. I wonder where they are. Are they alive? Are they in prison? Are they walking with Jesus? I may never know. It matters to me, though. Which names will stick in my head from this journey? Bianca? Terry? Wichapi? Who else?
Will I lose track of them like I have DeJean and DeWayne? Will I see them again? You never know.
At the end of it all, my contribution isn’t what is paramount. I generally swoop in and swoop out of places like this. I chip in, but my influence is limited. My lasting impact is performed in other places, places I’ve been blessed to stay. And it’s to those places that I am called. So how does one measure the impact of a limited amount of time like this?
The only thing I can think to do is think of the end of it all. When the last trumpet blasts and the pearly gates open and this world passes away, however that all goes down, who will be there? Will DeJean be there, and will he remember me? Will Wichapi still be smiling? Will Bianca be awake from her sweet sleep? Will Terry have spent his life preaching the Gospel?
When there are no more housing projects and no more reservations assigned to certain peoples and wealth doesn’t matter and every tongue and tribe and nation is gathered around the throne of God, who will I be singing with? At the end of it all, that’s really all that matters.
So I’m going to drive to an airport and fly on a plane and my head is going to hit the pillow sometime after midnight. I’ll have been at Diamond Willow for seven days. At the end of it all, that’s a small contribution. But all the Kingdom of God really is is a bunch of small contributions stacked up on top of each other in a sloppy pile. We’re all just doing our best. We’re all just chipping in to the mission that God has been on to restore and redeem mankind. In a way, life is just a short-term missions trip. When we die, God will remain. The mission never ends until the end of it all.
At the end of it all, how we’ve lived will matter much. Whether or not we will continue to live is what matters most. I want to live, and I want many others to live alongside me. Whether in Katy, Texas or Santiago, Dominican Republic or Ft. Thompson, South Dakota or the inner city of Washington D.C., I want to live in such a way to point others to Jesus. I’ll drive a van, preach a sermon, get thumped in ping-pong by kids half my age, or pass out piggy back rides. What I do doesn’t matter.
At the end of it all, all that will have mattered is that I did something. It matters not where.
Wherever you are, join me in living with the end of it all in mind.