Portugal musings –
I’ve been in Lisbon for a week now meeting with a missions/church planting group conference of sorts. What a lovely bunch of folks from all over the globe. Just a few moments ago I was sitting in a restaurant, over looking a craggy coast with waves smashing against them; a fisherman stood in the midst of the spray casting his lonely line out to the clear Atlantic…hoping, watching, for some sign of life, and response to his vigilance and effort. He was weatherworn, with calloused hands, and a broken but kind expression flooded his face. I sat inside, behind a windscreen, sipping wine and eating through an immense meal that can only be described as…. well, big. Let’s put it this way, when we finished the seafood we thought we would get dessert. No! They brought out a serving of pork loin, applesauce, and potatoes. Of course there were appetizers, pre-meal wine, during meal wine, dessert and after meal wine and coffee….extremely strong, and in a tiny cup. I guess you need to drink the strong coffee here because they drink so much wine.
The contrast was evident. I sit inside eating what the one outside is working so hard to attain. Some get out and “do the stuff” as John Wimber used to say. Others, well, most others, sit inside enjoying the results of what the few have worked so hard for.
Church planting is hard work everywhere. But in Europe, it’s really difficult. This is a lovely country, with very gracious people; people whom God loves, and so wants to reveal to them just how much. I’m wondering while I’m sitting here, in my cozy hotel room, overlooking Carcavelos beach (sorry not many waves here though I crammed a 4 mil wetsuit into my carry-on just for the chance!), that if every group of believers got just 10% of their group to become missionaries for just 10% of their life, what places like Portugal could become. My new friend Marty has a dream, a dream to reach the surfers, skateboarders, the beach culture with the message of hope. What if he had the resources and people to make it happen? Would the culture in the water at Carcavelos and Guincho be affected for the good? I think so.
Now imagine if we all gave just 10% of our time to making a difference wherever we are. What if I looked at my 40, 50, 60-hour workweek, and gave 4, 5, 6 hours of it to directly reflecting and representing the love of God to the people I work with, or are around? What if I gave half of a Saturday up to go and help my work mate clean up his yard? paint his bedroom? put together his children’s play set? brought them a meal (they liked!)? baby sat for them so they could go out, and paid for them to?
What if we went from sitting inside sipping, to getting outside and fishing? What if we became suppliers instead of imbibers? What is we lived just 10% of our lives outside of our comfort?
Weather worn? Maybe. A bit tired? Surely. Satisfied? Well, I was satisfied with the meal. But the satisfaction that goes with the fisherman’s effort is different than the overly stuffed belly I feel at this moment.
There’s a kind, satisfied, assurance on the face of the Portuguese fisherman; peaceful, serene, experienced, kind of an “I’ve found purpose here” look. He appears to be a walking narrative. You see history, generations unfolding beneath the tanned lines of his face and brow. Character.