I grew up reading missionary biographies (as well as a lot of other things, but they're not immediately relevant here). These people were amazing followers of Christ who gave up things that were really hard to give up, so that they could tell a bunch of people they had never met before that Jesus loves them. I found these stories daunting and inspiring, and knew I wanted to "be a missionary when I grew up." So I did, for a while, although I never felt like I was quite giving up as much as I should have been.
For example, in the 1800's, this dude Henry Martyn broke up with his fiancee so he could go to Asia Minor and translate the Bible and make the Gospel known. He did, and people who would otherwise not have heard about the truth of Jesus, actually did, even though Martyn himself ended up dying very young. I think I always thought eventually I'd go overseas and get martyred or something dramatic, too.
If God actually called me to be a missionary, shouldn't I be doing something like that? So what am I doing at Starbucks? Particularly when, in the course of the last year and a half, I've hardly had the opportunity to share the Gospel with anyone?
Then I got to know the Milk Guy.
Someone said to me recently, "If you were once a missionary, I would find it very unlikely that you would date a non-Christian." I considered this, and thought that actually, in some ways it might make perfect sense, because a missionary (or an evangelist, or anyone like that) ideally already loves the people who haven't met Jesus yet--that's why they tell them about Him. If there's already that initial caring present, and then some sort of "chemistry" is added to the mix, there's nothing very surprising . . .
I suppose some would say that, whether surprising or not, my actually deciding to consider a non-Christian "romantically" is out-and-out disobedience to the Gospel. I guess I think it's a little more open to debate, but I certainly don't want to be disobedient. Which is why my brain is getting all mixed up about this "just one person" concept. I know that we are called to put Jesus above all other loves. I truly want to do this. But if I have a missionary call, does it mean I should start investigating international options again, and clear myself out of here? Or would that, in this case, be like running away, and am I being called to reach out with Jesus' love to this "just one person" who happens to be in the place Jesus most recently brought me?
Either way requires a sort of sacrifice, and I don't know for sure which is the one Jesus is requiring of me. I don't know what the end result will be. According to the law of averages, I'd be better off going and doing "official" missions again, because I'd have a broader base of people to share Jesus with than "just one person." Also, shouldn't I be going someplace where people have less access to the Gospel? On the other hand, as I said to Jeff in the comments previously, I'm not sure God's all that concerned with the law of averages, even though He created it. And who am I to say who God should send to, say, the Turks, and who He should send to the Milk Guy.
Meanwhile, oddly enough, since I've been seeing the Milk Guy, suddenly I'm having all these other Jesus-conversations, too--at Starbucks, where I hadn't had one in ages.
Photo by jennw2ns: Sheep by water, Dingle, Ireland. 2008.