My brother, sister-in-law and their three children are currently working as missionaries and teachers in Port Vila, Vanuatu. My parents were also missionaries there for 14 years, and Andy and his wife Noelene felt a strong call to the islands several years ago. It has been their dream for a long time.
Noelene home-schools their three children, shares her baking skills with the people there, and teaches the Bible at Sunday School. They have a kids’ club, youth group, and preaching classes for the men in the church there, and Andrew is also translating the Bible into their language.
In one of his letters home this week, Andy wrote:
“‘Living in Vila’ is no longer a dream but a reality. Dreams come in shades of whatever your favourite colour is, but reality is what it is. Sometimes reality is far better than the dream, and that’s how I feel most of the time. But, in the wonderful world that is God’s kingdom, the reality that hurts is almost always the one that takes us closer to Him and His will. And that is, of course, the safest place to be.”
I share this because my brother’s words stopped me in my tracks, and perhaps they make you think too.
What colours do your dreams come in? What are you hoping for? Perhaps your dream has been realised and the reality is different to what you’d hoped. Perhaps, as my brother said, it’s better. But even if life presents us with rainbow colours, there’s this nagging truth – as Andy articulated. The reality that hurts is often the one that takes us closer to Him. In the hurt, we cling. In the pain, we realise our need of a Saviour. In our brokenness and failure, we come face to face with the One who can put the pieces back together and remind us where our strength lies. And this is true whether we’re struggling with the ups and downs of mission or ministry, taking risks in our career, or plunging into relationship problems.
Where does your strength lie? Where does mine? What are we looking to for affirmation, validation and approval? Is it success, the feeling of being liked, or the worthiness of our achievements? Or do we look to the cross of Christ, where sin is offered humbly, forgiveness is given, and freedom in Him truly begins…?