Schindler's List

There is school around the corner called Schindler school.  It isn't named after Oskar, but after Professor Charles Schindler.  Still every time I pass it I think of that final scene in Schindler's list where he breaks down in tears:

Oskar Schindler: I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.
Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
Oskar Schindler: If I'd made more money... I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I'd just...
Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
Oskar Schindler: I didn't do enough!
Itzhak Stern: You did so much.


If you haven't seen the movie or know the story, it's about a business man who saved the lives of many Jews during the holocaust. 

We're looking at furlough here in a few weeks.  And thus it'll be time to tell people back home, about what we did, what we're doing, and share the stories and excitement we have.  What we have done personally, is a long list.  3.5 years is a long time.  What we have been a part of, is a much longer list.  And what remains to be done, is yet an even longer list.

So which list do we focus on?  If we focus on the list of 'this is what we have done' we might be able to feel good about our time here, our labor, our work.  But if we look at the longest list, we find ourselves saying "I didn't do enough!"

I look around this country, and all it's many spiritual and physical needs.  The need for people of character to rise up and lead, the HIV epidemic, the rise of Islam, the lack of good role models, the absence of Scripture in hundreds of languages, the need for .... just the need.

And I think to myself "there is soooo much to be done, I haven't done enough."

I had intended to develop more relationships than I did, invite more people into my home than I did, preach the Gospel to more people than I did, make more audio recordings than I did.  And yet, it's been a long hard term.
Part of the paradox of furlough is that we feel a great responsibility to the place we're leaving, and a great responsibility to the place we're returning to.  As we tell you of what we've done we're thinking of more we want to do.
As we tell stories of what has been achieved, we're thinking of how to achieve more.

The truth is, we can't really allow ourselves to revel in what we've done because we know it is God doing it.  All our work is pointless if God doesn't move in the hearts of people.  Without His hand stirring hearts, our work is meaningless buzzing about.

And so it it with extreme humility that we enter into our furlough.  We are humans, we're tired, we need rest, but we also need to ramp up so we can return and do more work.

It is funny, because someone comes to me and says 'I respect what you are doing over there.'  And I have two immediate thoughts.  The first is:
1) I respect and am grateful for all that people do to send us over there! 
2) there is always someone else, doing much more.  Some super-missionary out there achieving more, living harder, getting more done.

People here, that we work with, have asked us "how do you do so much? How do you get so much done?" and that question strokes our ego a bit.  We like to think it is good planning, time management and a strong work ethic.
But the truth is, God paves the way.  There have been weeks when it seems we can't make any forward progress, too many obstacles.  We ask for prayer, we pray, and then often they are followed up by weeks of extreme productivity!

So, I remind myself when I'm feeling like Oskar Schindler "I could have done more"... that in reality, all I have do is keep on putting one foot in front of the other and trust God to be making the progress He has paced out to His purposes.  And then I discipline myself in the face of all that remains to be done, that I am only 1 person (with an awesome other person in my wife), and that God is in control.  I take a deep breath, remember that the first thing they teach all first-aid students is 'you can't help the patient until you've secured yourself', and then, once secured, continue on in prayer.

We have learned to wait on God. To give God the credit, and avoid assuming blame that is not our right to accept.  Part of trusting God, is not allowing yourself to despair.  What we've done is a small dent, a drop in the bucket.  But God has a way of turning seeds into huge trees.

The end of our time here, won't have a tearful scene.  We won't break down and say 'we could have done more.'  We will say 'God, whatever we have achieved, let it be for Your glory, and thanks for having us along for the ride.'

Tonight during our small group I was reminded of how enjoyable giving is.  While this post is focusing a bit on how I cope with facing a vast need, I also have to comment that giving in this way, living this life, has made me the happiest I've ever been.

Truly giving moves us closer towards what God intended us to become.