Being a missionary in Spain, I quickly adopted the folk hero Don Quixote. Yes, he’s the nut who fought a windmill—among other things—and believed only the best about everyone. The knight Quixote was a starry-eyed idealist who always wanted the good.
. . . And so do we!
We may not get knocked off our horses by windmills or farmers, but we will joust with the enemy, just the same.
The enemy has many forms. (I’m not talking about the enemy of our souls, here. I’m talking about typical missionary enemies—those things that could easily defeat us.)
It might be the hardships of the field itself. I think of those of you in third world countries where electricity is iffy, water supply is iffy, the government and all its officials are corrupt, and you need patience every. single. day. Dust permeates every corner of your home—even an hour after you dust and mop. Or you might live in a large city where the only “yard” you have is the one you create on your balcony. You live in a concrete jungle where the neighbors are critical and the traffic is crazy. You have to travel just to see something natural and green. (Your kids have no idea where milk comes from!) You feel penned in and often get cabin fever. I think of those fields where the harvest isn’t even green yet, let alone ready—like Europe. You rejoice when anyone is interested in coming to church. Anyone! I think of the “hardships” of the abundant harvests. How in the world can you possibly disciple 263 new believers? (I made up the number.) How can you counsel and meet their needs with only two pastors and their wives?
The enemy might be your body. It’s daunting to hear of missionaries’ physical challenges. We’re all only flesh. Every woman in ministry sooner or later faces an injury, sickness, hormonal challenges, pain, or just plain exhausted tiredness.
The enemy might be mental. Between the ears is where the hardest spiritual battles are fought. Love that person who’s trying your patience. Yield to your husband when you aren’t feeling perky. Enjoy Sundays when only your family and five more people show up for services. Get excited about distributing gospel tracts when there hasn’t been one response in three years. Clean up after inconsiderate people trash the church or on purpose soil the bathrooms. Keep smiling and being sweet, knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord (from 1 Corinthians 15:58). Look to Jesus and not at people.
The enemy might be clutter: house clutter, mental clutter, over-commitment, social media, disorganization . . . . There are many ways we clutter our lives.
The enemy may be criticism. (Now, there will always be critics. Most of them are only mindlessly commenting on something they don’t like. Not everyone will be pleased all the time. That’s only normal.) Sometimes, the criticism is actually cruel attacking. It may be aimed at your pastor, husband, or directly at you. It might come from another Christian, another pastor, or an outside source. If you read missionary biographies—I heartily recommend it—you’ll find you’re not alone. If you read the Psalms, you’ll see you’re not alone. If you study the Perfect Lord Himself, you’ll find that no one is immune to cruel, unjust criticism.
The enemy might be time. It keeps ticking away. Your day is too short. The week flies by. Dinner has to be made right after you cleaned up the lunch dishes. Guests are arriving in an hour, and there are still beds to make and the “last touches” to do. Homeschooling is behind schedule for the year. Your pregnancy has slowed you down. Where did May go, anyway?
The enemy might be your family or lack thereof. You harbor resentment against your mission calling because you haven’t seen your folks back home in years—except by pixelated Skype. You’re not happy because hubby’s occupied day and night. (When was the last time you had a date?) You’re up every two hours with the baby. The five-year-old hits and bites. Your teenager is tempted with the world, and you don’t have all the answers. If you didn’t have fifteen children, you’d have more time for ministry. You’re childless, and you long for a child to love. You’re single, and you’d like to have some company on your journey.
The enemy is you. The cartoon character Pogo famously said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” (In our case, it’s “she is us.”)
So what does Don Quixote do and . . .
What do we do?
- Remember that ultimately, the fight is for the right. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).
- Keep your armor on. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11, also 12-18).
- Think about the good, not the bad. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).
- Rejoice that the battle is already won in Christ. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57). For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (1 John 5:4).
- "Eat" regularly. Become a Berean Bible student. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11).
- Deny self daily. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).
- Have a thankful spirit. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).
- Be joyful in the Lord. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4)
God bless you, fellow knights! ¡Adelante! (Onward!)