Last night my husband and I had dinner with a couple that we are very good friends with. They're the kind of friends that you know you need to cherish every minute you have to spend with them, because on any given day there's a good chance that they will be packing up and heading out. This isn't a case of wanderlust, but of two people who are ready to follow wherever God may lead them.
So, inevitably, the "What's in the works" conversation came up. And as I listened to them talk so passionately about going to this place or that and planting churches in areas that are truly unchurched, my feet began to tingle. My heart began to ache. And all I could think was, "I want in."
I want to go.
It's been on my mind for months now. I've come up with all sorts of schemes to entice my level-headed husband into selling everything we have, abandoning all sense of security, and living like vagabonds. So far, he hasn't taken the bait.
And so I tell myself: Self, God won't call you somewhere and not call your husband.
As much as I want to say that I am being called to pick up and move my life and family to Utah to evangelize a seriously Gospel-starved population, it can't be true if my husband doesn't feel the same calling. But knowing that doesn't lessen the desire. Or the restlessness. Or the frustration. So if we're not being called, what then is going on in my heart?
What is the source of this spark?
What I think it comes down to is a preconceived notion of what it means to be "called by God".
We hear people talk all the time about being called to be a missionary in Africa, or called to preach in the streets of San Francisco, or called to a specific ministry in a specific church. And by golly, I want to be called!
I mean, I'm a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. I'm ready, I'm willing, I want to go. Day after day I am on my face in my living room screaming (in my spirit so as not to wake the napping children) "Lord, send me. Send me, Lord. Seriously, can't you hear me, I want to go, send me. Send me. SEND ME!"
After which comes the gentle rebuke of a loving Father: "Child, you have been sent."
So this is it. These are the people to whom I have been called. Yay. Yippee. Hurray.
Don't get me wrong, I love these people. I love my church. I love my family here. I love living and raising my kids in Texas. What I don't love is the frustration that comes with trying to plant seeds on barren soil. Barren soil, that thinks it's fertile.
I have often said that the population of the Bible Belt is Gospel hardened. Gospel saturated. But that's just not true.
It is Gospel ignorant.
When I consider the prospect of sharing Christ with people who think they have Him, think they have salvation and everything that goes along with it, but (according to their testimonies) do not, I can't help but daydream a little about the more (in my eyes) glamorous evangelistic callings. I would prefer a Mormon, to someone who was born and raised in a Baptist church and is convinced that at some point along the way they were saved by osmosis. Or someone who believes that being a Christian is about conforming to a list of dos and don'ts that have absolutely no bearing on the heart.
But these are the people to whom I have been called. How dare I cheapen that calling by comparing it to fleshly expectations. Going would be such an easy out, I'll just leave these people for someone else. Someone more patient. Someone more mature. Someone, anyone, else.
I wonder if Moses ever thought that. When he came down from the mountain (after some pretty agonizing intercession on behalf of his people) only to find that they got bored and restless and decided to worship a baby cow statue, I wonder if he thought about quitting. How frustrated must he have been! It would be totally understandable if the idea of leaving and going somewhere far far away crossed his mind. I mean, the Egyptians might have killed him, but would that be as bad as witnessing a constant cycle of your people turn to and from God?
He didn't leave though. He yelled a lot and threw some stuff around, but he didn't leave. He just marched back up that mountain and pressed onward.
In spite of resistance. In spite of regression. In spite of baby cow statues.
He pressed on. In obedience. To his calling.
As I see it, a couple of things need to happen before I can press on.
I need to remember that I am not going to help anyone. I'm not saving anyone. I'm not changing anyone's life. I'm not doing jack squat. It's the Spirit inside me that does the work. Only God can change hearts, I cannot. So, it shouldn't matter where He is using me, either in East Texas or Iran, what matters is that He is using me. Certainly he could fully accomplish His will without me, and yet He allows me to play a role.
I need to leave all of my expectations at the door. Accept that I will likely never see results. Accept that I may never be praised or honored or appreciated. Accept that the only glory I should seek is the glory of God.
Stop whining. Just shut up and serve. Don't look at other people and make comparisons, be concerned only with what God is asking me to do, and respond with obedience. Shut up and serve. Shut up and serve. Shut up and serve. (My new mantra)
I would really like it if Satan shuttered every morning when I get out of my bed. But I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen as long as he knows he can keep me distracted from doing any real Kingdom building. And the same goes for you. Stay focused. Don't let yourself become distracted. Don't worry about results or expectations, only worry about what's going on between you and God.
"And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we don't give up." -Galatians 6:9