I sat in the grand ballroom of a fancy Houston hotel wearing the nicest clothes in my closet. Black lace A-line skirt. Pale pink chiffon blouse. Patent leather heels. Chris and I ate dinner and caught up with old friends while images of the barren East African landscape flashed on screens around us. Mud hut homes with thatched roofs. Hand dug water wells. Women balancing bright yellow jerry cans on their heads.
Every year about this time, Chris and I gather with many of these same people to lend support to Every Village, an organization which spreads the gospel and assists in community development in South Sudan. We spent 10 days in South Sudan with Every Village in 2011 and the Lord has turned our hearts toward that nation and the organization that took us there ever since. One of the main focuses of this year’s gala was the need for missionaries on the ground in South Sudan. As I sat in that ballroom and listened to the organization ask for people willing to commit to two years as long-term missionaries, I decided to take the invitation personally and posed myself a question that every Christ-follower needs to ask:
“Am I willing to go?”
If God asked me to pack up life here in the States and move my family 8000 miles away to be a missionary in one of the least developed nations in the world, would I be willing to go? I honestly didn’t even have to think about it too hard; the answer was yes. Deciding I needed to make the announcement formal, I told God as much right then and there. I resolutely said (out loud in my head), “God, If you call us to South Sudan, I’ll go.”
Maybe I was fooling myself, sitting in that nicely air-conditioned ballroom with a plate of unfinished dessert in front of me. Maybe I’m still fooling myself, sitting in my suburban home typing away on my Mac, but I don’t think that I am. Here’s why…I’ve experienced the peace that comes from obeying the Lord in the difficult places. I’ve seen His faithfulness in my life. I understand the reality of a heart and life transformed by His love. Perhaps I’m being naive, but if He called me to go, I believe I would go.
As I sat there contemplating the notion of even the possibility of such a call, I began considering the implications that such a shift would carry. Two years of my life. 730 days. What on earth might the Lord be able to do in me if I could say yes to those 730 days?
If I could leave my comforts behind?
If I could train my eyes steadfastly on my King and His kingdom?
If I could love His people more than I love myself?
What might He accomplish if I would do those things for 730 days? By the time we left the gala that night I had settled the issue in my heart. I was ready to pack up our boys and whatever pieces of our lives that would fit into a few plastic crates and make haste. As we climbed into the car to head home, I turned to my husband, “So what do you think? Should we go?” He looked confused for a second as if he wasn’t quite sure what I was referencing. When the realization of what I was saying dawned on him, he shook his head without skipping a beat. Smiling at me he said, “Nope. That’s not our place.”
He was sure of it. Confident of his answer. And he was right.
God’s call on our lives is not long-term missions in South Sudan (at least not at the moment). God was not asking us to sell our home, store our things, quit our jobs and leave our extended family. I know this. However, I was somewhat disillusioned nonetheless. All that mental brouhaha, the emphatic, “Yes, God, I will go for you!”, (whilst scenes of Isaiah 6 played themselves out in my head, starring me as the heroine, of course) and God hadn’t even made the call. It was a spiritual false start. All the possibilities those 730 days held dropped with a thud and kicked up a cloud of disappointment that lingered in the air. I breathed it in and exhaled it out. I wanted those 730 days. I was positive that those 730 days could change me, maybe even the whole world.
It’s now days later and that number is still rattling around in my head (730 days, 730 days, 730 days), but the disillusionment has cleared and here’s what I know. The fact is that God has called me to those 730 days.
He has called me to leave my comforts behind.
He has called me to train my eyes steadfastly on my King and His kingdom.
He has called me to love His people more than I love myself.
But He has called me to do all those things right here. Right now. Right where I am – amidst 3 young children running amok, as a stay-at-home mom, wife, would-be writer and hopeful Bible-study teacher. He is asking me to live those 730 days in the exact place He has already called me to be.
Which leads me to the next question that every Christ-follower needs to ask, “Am I willing to stay?”
Although going is huge, there’s no winning if you don’t stay. Life is lived in the staying.
Maybe you can relate…some part of me wishes for the clarity of a call that I couldn’t deny, such as…I don’t know…missionary work in South Sudan, or whatever. Because maybe then, if I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt what God’s one, big, grand calling upon my life was, then somehow all the other pieces would fall into place. Maybe once I was comfortably positioned in the pocket where He wanted me, I would struggle less and be content more.
The problem with that theory is that God doesn’t exactly have the reputation of one who positions those He calls comfortably. (Think Daniel in the den, Isaiah naked in the streets of Jerusalem, Paul in chains, John in exile.) The truth is, comfort doesn’t breed contentment, it breeds boredom. So I’ll choose to sit uncomfortably in the calling to which I’ve already been called (stay-at-home mom to 3 young boys, wife, would-be writer and hopeful Bible-study teacher), and I’m hoping you will, too. Listen, friends, the most challenging call for you to live out is always the one to which you’ve already been called. I’m sitting dead-smack in the middle of where God has called me to be and although it isn’t South Sudan, it gets uncomfortable here. I doubt, I second guess, I question, “Really, God? Am I doing this right? Is this where you want me to be? Are you sure you want me here?
And with His yes, I’ll give these next 730 days to Him from right here where I already am. Since He’s called me to stay, I’ll stay…for at least another 730 days. And who knows? Maybe in that time He could change me. Maybe He could change the whole world.
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