“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” John 10:16
There is a foreign nation I love, a people who are treasures to my heart, a language I labored to learn, and a dream we carried for the bulk of my adulthood that are absent from my world today.
We learned a way of living that feels irrelevant to my comings and goings these days, vignettes that periodically flash across my mind in remembrance that remain untold. Images flash across my social media that remind me of the land I love, the souls who now embrace Jesus Christ as their savior.
We made our home on Japanese soil for three years and a separate summer, but our lives pointed that direction for ten years. It is a quiet grief I carry because I ventured to love the Japanese people, and love is a liability of the heart. I may have unanswered questions that echo in my soul until I meet Jesus about why it didn’t work out, but for today I have a quiet peace that He directed our steps there and back again.
My husband read the above words from the gospel of John the autumn day he asked me to be his wife. We said ‘Yes’ to a life of following Jesus together and we held onto two dreams: to go and make disciples of all nations and to raise baby disciples in our family. I’m sure I meant to hold those with an open hand, but you never know how clenched your fist is until the Lord lovingly removes something.
By the mighty grace of God I have carried three human babies, but the grief of miscarrying our love for overseas life left a void in our hearts for a long and dark season.
Jesus has sheep who have received the good news of Jesus, His covenant love, because someone ventured to tell. In Japan, like many thousands of people groups in the world, the odds of hearing this good news are heartbreakingly low. The spiritual poverty there is devastating. Quite simply put, America, in all its mixed up craziness these days, still has a spiritual wealth and freedom to receive and grow in Jesus unlike any other place in the world.
There are hundreds of scriptures that God spoke to stir my heart to be like His, to love the nations because He loves the nations:
“He says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6
“For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:13-14
From Genesis, God’s promise to make Abraham a blessing to all peoples of the earth, to Revelation, the picture of a collected family worshiping around the throne of God of every tongue, tribe, and nation – God has made His heart plain for us to see. He deeply loves the people of the world and wants His glory and worship to extend to them. His glory will cover the earth one day as water covers the sea (Habakkuk 2:14), and oh, I want to be in on that purpose.
Now that our family life outwardly looks acclimated to our midwest American suburban surroundings, my fight is to continue in obedience to live for His kingdom purposes and not slip into the building and protecting of my own little kingdom… to be part of gathering His lost sheep to His fold. Whether my address is Utsunomiya or Indiana, His calling is to make disciples of all nations. My response to that is one in the same:
“Yes, Your Majesty. はい、かみさま. There and back again.”