People, situations, or even the circumstances of life are not always as they seem. Such was the case for a young, charming woman – a woman who happens to be the personal hero of my wife. This youthful, smart, and witty young girl had a bright future. All seemed refreshingly exciting.
She grew up in a supportive family in the good old Midwestern town of Boone, Iowa. At just ten years of age she was prompted by the Lord to serve Him on the mission field and this desire never left her. Early in her college years she met her would be husband who also had the same desire for ministry. After language studies, Darlene Diebler-Rose and her dear Russell headed off to Papua New Guinea. And they, along with several other families set up a thriving outpost for ministry in the surrounding villages around the small island of Celebes. She was overjoyed with being a part of Christ’s mission.
However, in one short day her life changed drastically for the worst. The dawn of the Japanese invasion of WWII had come to the West Indies. Swiping down island, village, and jungle, the Japanese cleared all that stood in their path – along with the isle of Celebes.
Darlene hurriedly threw some basic necessities into a pillowcase and ran out the door. Her husband was already carted up in a truck headed for a concentration “work” camp. As she reached up to give the pillowcase to her dear Russell, he leaned over and whispered, “Remember one thing dear: God said that He would never leave us nor forsake us.” As the truck drove away only one thing coursed through Darlene’s mind, “What about now, Lord?”
All she felt was abandonment. She would never see her husband again.
She and all the other ladies ended up in a prison camp in Kampili. Over and over Darlene questioned the Lord about her suffering and agony. About one year after she and her husband said their goodbyes, she received notice he had died from dysentery in a labor camp. At 26 she was now a widow. Again she cried out in utter frustration, “But what about now, Lord!?”
When the Bottom Falls Out…
As much as Darlene strained through the frustration, she still could not clearly see how God could place her in such a position of suffering. She could not understand how this suffering that she was going through could be a part of Christ’s mission. In a similar way, you and I may have an incomplete or blurred picture of our Messiah’s true Mission. When the bottom falls out, when the preacher down the road is driving a Mercedes-Benz and you instead are being ridiculed for preaching the clear message of God’s Word, when the stressors of life are overwhelming: who is Christ to you?
Is He your present, earthly savior who you expect will come to rescue, save, and guard you from the suffering of this life? You and I may think we understand what it means to follow in the mission of Christ. But the stark truth and the testimony of most believers tells a different story. Following in the Mission of our Messiah does not offer the “best life now,” or grant us seven keys for success. Following in His mission does not even offer or guarantee the simplest of earthly comforts. If this were the case then Jesus Himself would have lived a very different kind of life.
However, mature followers of the Messiah must clearly understand His mission. We must Clearly See the Mission of our Messiah. Furthermore, we must understand that the Messiah’s mission is one of Suffering before Glory….
This is precisely what Christ unveils for us in Mark 8:22-33. Here in Mark 8:22-33 we find that those who had been following Jesus for quite some time and witnessed many powerful miracles still had an incomplete understanding of their Master and His Mission. However, Jesus would not let them remain in blurry understanding. Thus He unveils for them and us, just how one is to clearly see His true mission and wholeheartedly follow Him. So now turn with me to Mark 8:22-33….
Simply click on the audio player below to listen to the full message from Mark 8:22-23, entitled “Following the Mission of Our Messiah.” I delivered this message at Grad Night 2010 at Evangel Baptist Church, Taylor MI.