“What would the presence of God look like in our lives if we undid the constraints we placed on the boundless Father to all tribes and tongues?” wonders Mary. “What if we took ourselves out of the equation as it relates to God and truly focused on Him as both the Creator, lover of all souls, existing out of time, uniquely personal to billions Abba? What if we focused on this truth for all people rather than approaching God as a God only of our own or our community's circumstances?"
I just spent 10 days in Taiwan. Ten days filled with joy, stretching, peace, overwhelming love, growth, patience, trusting and an expansive and ever-growing list of descriptors.
Upon being honest with myself, I can admit I wasn't eager to leave for my trip. l was scared, nervous and longing to stay in my comfort zone and place of routine. I exist well in routine and structure. I have created a life of early morning workouts, workdays, writing, serving in various capacities and leaving just enough time to build relationships with others. I would have said prior to this trip that I thrive in such environments.
Contrary to this former belief, I was actually doing quite the opposite of thriving. I was simply existing; existing for what made me feel both safe and able to do just enough for God that my Christian cap could remain readily worn. I had created a routine so tightly wound by what I perceived as both good and actions of servanthood that I was blind to all that God wanted for me. In addition, living in my routine resulted in depleting how God existed to those outside of my Christian community. Sure I had conceptualized in varying degrees God's vastness and His ability to be the same God for anyone on earth, but I wasn't living out of that truth. The idea of God being infinite was equated simply with Him as the Creator of the earth. I was completely missing out on the attribute of God that is not just infinite within His ability to create but also in His ability to seek out and love all those who are lost.
I start with this question both for myself and those reading: what would the presence of God look like in our lives if we undid the constraints we placed on the boundless Father to all tribes and tongues? What if we took ourselves out of the equation as it relates to God and truly focused on Him as both the Creator, lover of all souls, existing out of time, uniquely personal to billions, Abba? What if we focused on this truth for all people rather than approaching God as a God only of our own or our community's circumstances? Don't get me wrong, God is incredibly personal and exists as such for reason. I am not asking us to remove this attribute of Him but rather to expand upon it to practice His presence acknowledging Him not just as a God over us but of all.
These questions begged to be answered in my heart within my first few days of arriving in Taiwan. Upon meeting everyone in our missions group, I quickly came to realise we represented 10 countries and six or seven languages. We represented multiple Christian denominations and varying beliefs on Christian practices. In the form of an answered prayer for all, we never focused on this. Instead, we bonded and served out of our deep desire to be glorifying to the vast, infinite Father above. In the first days, each person within our group shared their personal testimonies. All different but yet equally similar, it was apparent in a new way that even as humans exist as changing and contradistinctive creatures, God is forever the same. He existed before time and with His breath created the beginning. He was and is the same God in that moment of creation as He is now dwelling among our group of intricately woven foreigners.
As days past, our ability to unify under the same mission of wholly being used by God grew out of natural eternal divinity. I would confidently speak on behalf of our whole team that our ability to work in a complementary fashion was not out of anything within ourselves but instead represented a God who continually goes before. Many on our team shared the prayers of unity and lack of language barrier being ones said prior to coming on the trip. God, who blesses abundantly more as we aim to glorify Him, answered far beyond those two requests. Laying the path for each of our feet to uniquely walk through, God didn't just give us a unified force for Him that was able to communicate with one another, but He planned to bring together a group complementary in gifts and talents as well.
Furthermore, we began to discover the beauty in our ability to reach those we came across as a result of having both native Chinese speakers and non-Chinese speakers paired together. A God who cares infinitely more than we ever could for one lost sheep divinely orchestrated all of our gifts, lack of certain languages, existence of others and variety of backgrounds to be a beautiful depiction of His kingdom in Heaven to come.
This trip was met with little expectations from all of us and God created opportunities outside of our foreknowledge where He simply invited our group of 10 country representatives to be willing and abide; a request that at times felt impossible or too much with our lack of strength and sleep, but God continually provided. As we came together every morning to sit in reverence of a God who could do all our evangelising alone but still ordained our ability to arrive in Taiwan to be a vessel of His love, His power and proper eternal placement became ever present in my heart.
Taiwan wasn't simply just a trip to evangelise to the lost, strengthen the local Christians or grow individually. Taiwan has become an invitation I was so unworthy to accept but blessed to walk into simply as the beloved of the God of love. He will go to far greater lengths to reach both Christians and non-Christians alike, and we are simply given opportunities both in our local community and beyond to be a passenger on His ship steering towards the salvation of others. This trip became not just an invitation for 10 days but that of a lifetime. Boldended to undo the strings of routine, circumstances, environments and upbringings so tightly woven onto a God who can never fit Himself in our individual boxes, I am leaving this beautiful country choosing to extend my missions trip to beyond just my interpersonal reach - both mentally and physically.
So, I ask both myself and you these questions again... What would the presence of God look like in our lives if we undid the constraints we placed on the boundless Father to all tribes and tongues? What if we took ourselves out of the equation as it relates to God and truly focused on Him as both the Creator, lover of all souls, existing out of time, uniquely personal to billions Abba? What if we focused on this truth for all people rather than approaching God as a God only of our own or our community's circumstances?
When we arrive in Heaven, language won't be a barrier. As I got to pray the sinner's pray with an elderly man in a care centre, I was given the beautiful mental picture of him and I worshiping God in paradise together. There weren't words of any language being spoken but rather an overwhelming joy that God heard both of our prayers here on earth just the same. What a day it will be when we are rejoicing together in Heaven. When all of us, regardless of country of residence or language, arrive in Heaven we will be rejoicing and praising the vast, infinite, omnipresent God as one group bearing the name of beloved.
Mary (USA) works as a Donor Relations Manager for a Christian nonprofit that helps bring clean water, sanitation and the gospel to those in need. Feeling that God was asking her to stretch outside of her comfort zone and go somewhere much different than where she is from, Mary joined a short term outreach to Taiwan. “I simply cannot keep the goodness of God to myself after watching the way He has pursued and loved me even at my worst,” she shared.