Those of you who know me well know that am a big fan of David Livingstone. In fact, he is an inspiration to me, a hero if you will. One of the things I admire the most about him is the sacrifice he made in spending so much of his life in Africa. The amazing thing about this is David himself doesn’t even regard it as anything extraordinary. Here is his perspective on the subject:
If you knew the satisfaction of performing a duty as well as the gratitude to God which the missionary must always feel in being chosen for a noble and sacred calling you will have no hesitation in embracing it. For my part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk about that sacrifice I have made in spending much of my life in Africa. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger from now and then, with a foregoing of common conveniences and charities of this life may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this be only for a moment. All these are nothing compared to the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice he made. Who left his Father’s throne on high to give himself for us.
Twenty three year ago I left my native Liberia and served the Lord in several west African countries. But had no clue that I will be where I am today. Nine years ago the Lord brought me to San Francisco as a missionary to that city. After three a a half year there, he lead me to what I call “my ends of the earth,” a small town in the middle of nowhere, where we are the only black family in what they call “redneck country.” Some people say to me – “dude what a sacrifice!” and I go – “yeah a great sacrifice!” I begin to show off to God, “see what I am doing for you, see how much I left for you…house, brothers and sister, mother and father, and land Bla bla bla.” But I am quickly reminded of how much my sacrifice pales in comparison to his sacrifice for me. In fact the satisfaction I find working for Him outweighs the anxiety, sickness, or setbacks I encounter.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29, 30. Watch this, even though we work out of gratitude to him and the honor to have been appointed to such an office; he says I will still bless you, if not in this life than the life to come.
I find this promise amazingly true. Even though we are far away from blood related family, He has given us family right where we are in the middle of nowhere, he has met every need, and has blessed his work. But there is one word in the text we cannot dodge; it is the word persecution. This is the word that keeps us balanced in our service to him. This is what David Livingstone demonstrated so well – “Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger from now and then, with a foregoing of common conveniences and charities of this life may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this be only for a moment. All these are nothing compared to the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us.”
Don’t let loneliness make you to pause and cause your spirit to waver and your soul to sink.
Don’t let trials, tribulations make you to pause and cause your spirit to waver and your soul to sink.
Don’t let discouragements, setbacks and hardship make you to pause and cause your spirit to waver and your soul to sink.
Don’t let this culture’s resistance to the things of God make you to pause and cause your spirit to waver and your soul to sink.
Look to the Lord, trust him for this life and the life to come. Waver not in faith. Lean unto all his promises, because they have powerful implications for now and for eternity.
David Livingstone, Quoted in J. H. Worchester, the Tale of David Livingstone (Chicago, 1886), Page 46