About two weeks ago I was car-jacked. This is not unique to being a missionary. It is not unique to being in another country. It happens to people all over the world.
The car itself was not really worth that much. It was 13 years old and was requiring a large amount of work to keep it running. On top of that, the owner had yet (after two years) to transfer the car into my name, so officially I didn’t even own it yet.
But the major loss for me was the sense of independence. I was able to run errands and drive across the city where-ever and whenever I needed or wanted to, and now I am a slave to local bus service and don’t even think about leaving the house after dark unless someone comes to pick us up. One of the assistant pastors at our church has given us a standing offer to borrow his car during the day whenever we need it, yet that requires planning a day ahead and limits our spontaneity.
It’s not all bad though. I really like our residence, and I can really concentrate on projects I can work on here. Yesterday I spent the day cleaning my workroom/office which was definitely needing the attention. In the evenings, Paula and I are able to not worry about where we need to go and just spend some time together and talk. In addition, we are not making spurious trips to the store to get things we really don’t need; we plan our grocery trips and the buying of essentials. And we’re saving money on gas as well. We also know it won’t be forever. In a few months we will be able to buy another car and we’ll be a bit wiser and judicious in using it.
I think some non-believers feel the same way about Christianity. That by becoming a Christian they will lose the ability to “do what they want, when they want, how they want.” But most of those desires are not rooted in positive activities. My freedom in Christ (Gal 5:1) allows me to do whatever I desire. My desire is controlled by the Holy Spirit (Rom 6:1,2) and I find less inclination to do things that only satisfy my carnal self. Notice I said “I find less inclination:” I still battle that carnal nature from time to time, from materialism to selfishness and other things; and I don’t always overcome them. But my heavenly Father, though surely disappointed, accepts my apologies and pleas for forgiveness and even uses those times to draw me closer and show me a better way.
I can honestly say that I feel more freedom in my life now than I ever have before. My desire to do right and help others is all encompassing and giving God the glory rather than taking it for myself is actually quite gratifying.