I’ve read enough books and seen enough movies set on large boats to know that repairs and maintenance work are performed in three places: at sea, in port, and in drydock.
Large boats are designed to spend long stretches at sea, crossing oceans, and thus, regular maintenance and even emergency repairs may need to be done while on the open water. But some repairs or maintenance work requires supplies that aren’t on hand, etc. These can be done when the boat comes to land for a brief spell, to port. And lastly, some repairs or regular maintenance require access to parts of the boat you just can’t get to while it’s afloat. And that’s what drydock is for.
Relating this to the missionary life, repairs and maintenance made at sea are like the counseling or routine spiritual disciplines you engage in on the field. Port could be a mission conference or even a short trip back to the states – you return to the field after a short time away, encouraged to continue the work. And hopefully, home assignment functions as a drydock – a place where, out of all your normal rhythms, you can get counseling and training (maintenance and repairs) you wouldn’t be able to get on the field.
While I’m here in the States, working to raise support, I’ve also been in ‘drydock’. I’ve been meeting regularly with a spiritual director, doing gospel heart work together, and participating in Serge’s Discipleship Lab. Through these and other things, I’ve been seeing the Lord working in my heart – correcting and growing me so I can better serve Him during this next 4-5 years of service ‘at sea’ in Japan.
Written December 2019