I have this mental picture of Heaven. For the first time that we all gather to worship the Lord we are divided into sections in a vast auditorium. We are divided by language groups, and though when we speak to each other we use a common heavenly language, when we worship we sing in the language of our hearts. In my mind, every missionary who has ever struggled to learn a language will be honored on that day with a seat in the section of their adopted language. It makes me cry when I let this image rise up in my mind. For the honor of worshipping side by side with the people I have given my life to, I die daily to my mother tongue.
It is a daily death, this struggle to learn another language. I die to my personality which is best expressed in English. I die to years of education and speak Spanish like a child. I die to what I want to do and who I want to be. I die to my image of myself. I die to my independence. I die to my pride… over and over again.
If it were not for love, I could not do this. Yes, I love the Costa Ricans in all their contradictions and “Pura Vida”. But more than my love for others, I mean I die for the love of God for me. If it were not for God’s love towards me, I would not try this. I would not give like this. I would not hurt like this. I would not humble myself like this. If I was not 100% sure of my Father’s love for me, I would’ve stayed home in Minnesota.
But I am compelled. In the light of His love for me, I am compelled to go, to lay it all down, to die daily to all that was, to share this compelling love with others, to pick up my cross. I am compelled to love by dying. I know no other way anymore. The old life looks dull and flat. It does not entice me any more. My all and all hangs on the cross. The way to my one and only love lies through a valley of death. I give it all away in order to gain more than I could ever imagine. “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and then loses his soul?” When I die, I gain.
I can’t express it any more clearly how painful this death is to me. It is not a metaphor. It is real. And every time I open my mouth to speak Spanish I lay my will down for Jesus. Not my will, but yours be done. What I wouldn’t do for this love? It consumes me.
To live is Christ, to die is gain.