Longevity is a strange prize for a mission agency.
You see, missionary societies are born at the intersection of several convictions: the desperate need of a sin-ruined creation, the unique and all-sufficient provision of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the keen awareness of our King’s impending return.
It’s that last conviction that makes longevity so strange. We don’t just expect Jesus’ return, we long for it. Oh, that glorious day! The certainty of His coming and the beauty of the fulfillment are too much for words. Our hope is built on nothing less.
Yet as missionaries—odd people whose love for the Lord has spilled into an unreasonable love for the world—we wait patiently for it. Every day Jesus tarries is another day to share the love of the Father and the hope of salvation with someone else. You see, Jesus’ coming means shalom. It also means a reckoning.
Bono and U2 understand this disconcerting tension. In their song “Forty,” based on Psalm 40, they celebrate God’s rescue and their new song. But their keen awareness of the world’s brokenness also leads them to ask, “How long to sing this song?”
My own heart resonates deeply with the concluding lyrics of Andrew Peterson’s “The Reckoning”.
How long until the burden is lifted?
How long is this the song that we sing?
How long until the reckoning?
And I know that I don’t know what I’m asking,
But I long to look you full in the face.
I am ready for the reckoning.
Missionaries with South America Mission have been yearning for Jesus’ return for 100 years. How much longer, Lord? Yet we celebrate the privilege of each day of waiting as we proclaim Christ to a world in need of a Savior.
How long to sing this song? I don’t know. But I pray God would continue to give us the grace to sing it loudly and faithfully until the day of reckoning. May many see and fear and trust in the Lord. And May he find us ready when he returns.
I can’t wait.
Kirk Ogden—Executive Director, South America Mission