Traveling to Indonesia with Downline was the first time I had been outside of the United States for something other than vacation and I did not know what to expect. Not only that, but I, some kid who took a few Downline classes, was to reteach what I’d learned to several church planters and leaders who are faithfully living out their identity in Christ amidst the ostracism and persecution that comes with being a Christian in the highest populated Muslim country in the world. I didn’t just feel dependent and in need, I was dependent and in need.
We held a conference on discipleship on two different islands in Indonesia. While there, I experienced a culture that was literally foreign to me. The world got bigger as it got smaller. I was able to see how different people can be, from food preferences, to customs, to languages, to nationalities, to values and so on. We met Christians from six different countries who were working to advance God’s kingdom in Indonesia. But, it was in the context of community with these believers that I saw, despite our differences, we are the same.
The reality is that whether you are in Indonesia or Memphis, we have this is common, we are dependent and in need. What these believers needed more than anything was encouragement, from the Q & A that we had with the church planters as we heard their problems and challenges in ministry, to going to church as somewhere between fifteen to twenty believers heard a message from Psalm 37—fitting because of the disadvantage and persecution they face because they are Christian. How easy it would be to follow the culture as they see those who are doing evil prosper.
We as Christians are sojourners living in a land that is not our home, and it is not easy. Especially when the majority of our time is spent doing the monotonous activities of life such as working, eating, sleeping, paying bills, etc… I often overlook these things for things I would deem more “spiritual”, but that is my mistake.
In his book Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton states, “Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” It is the monotonous things that I take for granted that God uses to sustain life. We could not live if we did not eat or sleep or work. This fact should be a constant reminder of our dependence and need.
What is even more beautiful is the fact that when I fall short and slack in the monotonous activities that God has given me to enjoy, He refuses to slack on his monotonous activity. The fact is that sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Each day will have its own pains and hardships as we try to reflect Christ amidst a world affected by sin. But, with the trouble that occurs day after day, God perfectly and monotonously gives us new mercies day after day after day after day out of his sufficient grace and infinite delight.
The greatest thing that we have in common with believers all over the world is not our sin, though it is great, but our God who is greater and greatly to be praised among all the nations. If we are being daily captivated by who He is, we can’t help but be a light wherever we are, and “The light that shines the farthest, shines the brightest at home.” I feel dependent and in need. The reality is, I am dependent and in need, always.
Micah Ehmke is a recent Emerging Leader alum. He enjoys doing fun things with funner people and reading picture books.