Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Ziel

For those of you who don't know, "Ziel" is German. It means: target, goal, aim, or purpose.

When they held a World Cup Ski Race 100 yards away from my bedroom window where I used to live in Austria, that's what the sign at the end of the race said.

Ok, this picture is not taken from my bedroom window...it's from Google...
but this is where I lived & this is what it looked like.
It was the finish line.

It was the goal.

My boss there was an Austrian National Ski Instructor, ski guide, and mountain guide. (He was also a Bible teacher, since I was working at a Bible School/ski retreat center.) For those of you who don't know about Austrian skiing, that means that he was really, really, really good.

Austria is basically always the country to beat when it comes to skiing.

One thing he told us as we learned to ski (and watched him ski in embarrassed silence, the only sound being our jaws collectively hitting the snow because he was so ridiculously good) was--don't look at your skis.

You have to look down the mountain.

You have to look at your goal.

On the slopes and in life, it's really easy to get focused on the snow and bumps that are right below our feet, and forget about the goal that's down the mountain. The stuff underneath is important, but we have to remember to focus and redirect our attention to the goal.

As we live here, study, raise children, deal with power outtages on a daily basis, miss family and friends, and get frustrated with things that in our opinion should take minutes but end up taking hours, it's easy to forget the GOAL.

We have to daily remind ourself to refocus our attention on the One who brought us here, and remember Why he brought us here.

Why are we here? Well, at the moment, our short term goal is to learn Visayan and get the Language and Culture program ready for new students.

Then, Lord-willing, we'll assist new students in everything from language study to house-hunting to discipleship.

Then, Lord-willing, after Visayan language study, those students will be part of a team that first learns a tribal language and their culture, and then plants tribal churches.
In the middle of lots of short-term and long term goals, it's easy to focus on "accomplishments" and even how many hours we study as a measure of how "good" a missionary we are.

Many of you have probably heard of Martin Burnham, a missionary pilot here in the Philippines who was abducted and later killed.

Shortly before being taken hostage, he was speaking at a church and said:

"I wasn't called to be a missionary. I wasn't called to the Philippines. I was just called to follow Christ, and that's what I'm doing."

And that's something that rings true for all believers, regardless of their location.

Goals are important. I want to take care of my family.

I want to learn language.

I want tribal people to have a chance to read, write, live healthier lives, and ultimately hear and accept the Gospel in their own language.

But all of those things flow out of our ultimate goal, and that is simply to follow Christ, and for Him to be glorified.

If we focus on that goal first, accomplishing the other tasks will simply flow out of our focus on Him.

It won't make any of it easy, but it will actually make it possible.

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