I have never actually eaten a scroll, but I have eaten some meals in Mongolia that would make a scroll look like a gourmet feast. However, I know some of our western food in equally repulsive to our Mongolian friends.
But God told Ezekiel in Chapter 3:1 of his book, ‘Eat this scroll’. Did he eat it? It says, in 3:2, ‘so I opened my mouth and he gave me the scroll to eat’.
People come to the mission field for various reasons – some for travel adventure or to experience a different culture, others to escape the stress of living in the West. Still others like being put on a pedestal by those at home for the ‘great sacrifice’ they are making.
But, the true harvesters? The Bible says they are few (Matthew 9:37). They are the ones who pick up the scythe and follow God into the fields. They know the honour of working with him in seas of ripened grain.
In our early 50s, we had begun to want to slow down and enjoy some time away from work. I could see myself driving a new Dodge Ram, with a camper and a boat for lake fishing. Or maybe following a brace of bird dogs through a quail- and pheasant-infested draw.
And Frances? Well, like many women she could always enjoy shopping. But we came to Mongolia instead.
I don’t know what your attachments to this world may be, but I assure you that if you follow the divine Harvester you will most certainly ‘eat the scroll’. Develop an appetite for the scroll because you will eat it many times.
But look at what happened as Ezekiel munched on the parchment! What seemed like a terrible meal tasted just like honey. Isn’t that amazing? God can take a dry, indigestible scroll and make it taste sweet. He takes our trials and sacrifices and brings sweet joy from them.
Last Sunday we gathered in a ger with over 30 Mongolians in the remote village of Muren Bag. It’s a day and a half’s drive from Ulaanbaata and has a population of around 300. The vet and the herder have become believers. They read from the Word and we shared how Christ had changed our lives.
The paint on the Dodge Ram will go dull. One day that vehicle will be crushed and melted as scrap. The hunting dogs will become too arthritic to fan the fields. Shopping will lose its attraction as we grow old.
But as I look at these Mongolian friends – they are eternal. I said to them recently, ‘It is truly exciting to know that we will spend eternity together with God’. Now friends, that tastes just like honey!
If you are thinking about missionary work, know that you will have to eat the scroll. But know too that God can make it sweet as honey.