My mom and I went shopping last week. We bought skirts, dresses, slips and a jacket for Uganda. As I walked around department stores talking with my mother about the reality of if this or that skirt would be washable in a river, I was struck by the contrast of the life I’m about to live. Some, ok most, days it seems so surreal to me that in about 6 months I’ll be boarding a plane to a different world entirely. I remember the first time I read about Elisabeth and Jim Elliot. I was in awe and wonder of their adventure, even though Jim’s was short-lived. I remember reading an excerpt from Jim’s journal where he talks about the excitement of being on his way, finally, to do the work God had called him to. The first time I read that, it resonated so deeply with me. At the time, Jon and I were just starting to date. I remember thinking what it would be like to sit on a plane next to Jon as we left our world behind. Now that is becoming a reality and the excitement makes my skin buzz. It’s also terrifying. Getting ready to face the reality of all I know for something completely alien and foreign has been an exercise in faith unlike anything I’ve ever faced.
I heard growing up that faith was NOT the absence of fear. But that made no sense to me at the time. Fear has often crippled me, whether it was the childish fear of the dark, or my ever-present terror of bears (yes that’s true). I’ve often found my tongue paralyzed by the fear of man, and I have passed on opportunities I wanted for fear of failure. Moving to Uganda is requiring me to face most of my major fears: the unknown, failure, spiders, losing Jon, being faithless, death, illness, losing members of my family while I’m away… and so much more. Yet as this process began unfolding I found myself looking at faith in a way I had never had to before. Faith was no longer walking in what I was comfortable with or taking 3 insane seconds of courage. It has become looking at impossible odds, terrifying circumstances, unknown requirements, very real dangers, and sometimes trembling down into the soles of my shoes. Yet. I have learned to say that though I may be afraid, I trust God to handle it. Sometimes it doesn’t even feel like I believe it myself. But faith is becoming bigger than feelings in my life. It is KNOWING deep in my soul that God will never leave or forsake me and that if He is calling me to this life of uncertainty, He’s going to make the way. It is rising up to walk before I have any proof that He has healed me. It is a deep-seated confidence in the supremacy of the God I serve over the comprehension of my senses or logic. It feels much like Indiana Jones stepping out to take the “leap of faith” and seeing nothing under his feet, but stepping anyway. Except that God has been and is faithful, so it is no longer a hesitant fall; it is a confident run into the things I can’t understand or control.
I’ve always felt that God had made me a bit… peculiar. For a long time I struggled with accepting that. I see now that He hand-crafted me to be discontent with the status quo of the American lifestyle. The comforts and ease of our culture have a surprisingly strong appeal to me even though I always dreamed of leaving it for a life of adventure and excitement. Though I still look longingly to the day Jon and I can get on the plane and go, I never expected the fear that accompanies the thought. But I also used to not believe that I would ACTUALLY be called to the unusual. I never feared death, but I did fear working the same job for 50 years to retire and play golf and backgammon in Florida. Something in me expected and loathed the idea. Not that there’s anything wrong with that life. There isn’t. Many people live the life God has called them to doing just that and being a light in their world. It just never was meant for me, or Jon. Jim Elliot once said “God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life, that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life, but a full one, like You, Lord Jesus… The will of God is always a bigger thing than we bargain for… Saturate me with the oil of the Spirit that I may be aflame. But flame is often short-lived. Canst thou bear this, my soul? Short life? In me there dwells the spirit of the Great Short-Lived, whose zeal for God’s house consumed Him… ‘Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God. Oh, Lord, set my heart on fire. Ignite my spirit with Your holiness and Your passion. May my life be kindling to start fires in the hearts and minds of all I encounter.” The danger of our goals and passions is very real. I am more than ready to give my life in service of my King, and Jon is as well. And though part of me hopes my mother doesn’t read this (for her own sake rather than mine), I will not mince words over the fact that death is a real possibility to our calling. But what is a physical death when the weight of human souls is on the line? I fear far more the empty existence of disobedience and half-hearted service. To look back with the weight of reality when we stand before His throne and see moment after moment where I balked and missed the chance to glorify His name. His work and will shall be accomplished whether I am obedient or not, but I pray God never lets me forget the weight of His calling on our life. I desire to be a faithful servant who can look back and say ‘Lord you gave me one, and produced a hundred-fold in my life through obedience’. I don’t fear dying in His service, I fear living outside of it. May God protect our hearts from complacency. I believe the comforts of America produce in our souls an apathy and numbness toward the weight of eternity. We have forgotten the value of a human soul. I am more and more convinced that the wealth and leisure of America is less of a blessing, and more of an inoculation to the world. I would not dream to say that the prosperity of America cannot be God’s blessing, but it produces in us a weakness of spirit. We have no drive, no resilience, no fortitude, no passion left in our spirits. We cannot endure anything difficult or painful or hard and rarely can we imagine anything worth sacrificing for. Hebrews 12:4 says, “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” And Jesus called His followers to take up their cross, and said that there is nowhere for Him to lay His head. It seems almost unfathomable in American culture that those who sacrifice the most end up with the greatest joy. We have been indoctrinated that God’s blessing only manifests as monetary wealth and physical comfort. I fear that even though I know this is untrue it may still cause me distraction in our work for the Lord. That, I think, is my greatest fear. The fear of apathy, and complacency.
We are looking into purchasing our plane tickets, and God has provided beyond measure. Thank Him for that.
Pray for us as we continue to raise support and begin working toward selling the house.
I have to go get a renewed passport this week, pray for no hiccups there!
ALSO! Exciting news! We are having a spirit night at Chick-fil-A of Parker on August 25, 2015 from 4-8 pm, so feel free to come out and enjoy some chicken. A portion of the proceeds will go toward helping fund us doing the Lord’s work!