Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Journey to Africa

March 25, 2012

"The Lord
had said to Abram, 'Leave your native country, your relatives, and your
father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.
'" Genesis 12:1

The call of Abram (a.k.a. Abraham) began vaguely. God simply said to him, "Leave and go where I will show you." But God promised Abram it would be worth his obedience. "I will make you a great nation and bless you. I'll make you famous; you'll be a blessing. I'll bless those who bless you; those who curse you I'll curse. All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:2-3). In the very next verse we read, "So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed."

I believe Abram followed God away from everything he knew not for the perks, but because Abram knew that regardless of his own desires, safety or comfort, the most abundant life he could live was the life God ordained for him.

This past November I began to ask God to take me to the next level in my relationship with Him. I believe God is alive and active and that His depth knows no end. I had reached a point where I felt stagnate in my walk with Christ, and knew I would be remiss if I failed to ask Him for more of Himself.

Immediately I felt God answering my request, and I became overrun by fear. What if God called me to do something I considered dangerous? What if, because of my obedience, I inadvertently compromised the safety of my children? Oh Lord, I prayed, I'll follow You as long as You'll promise me my children will remain unharmed.

I prayed that prayer for nearly six weeks. I imagined thousands of ways that something might happen to my children, and at the end of those six weeks I had all but resigned to raise our children within the confines of our home. All the time the reality of God's truth continued to knock at my door. Jenny, you can do all that is within your power to keep your children safe but at the end of the day it is Me who ensures their well-being. These are My children, not yours. I love them more than you can fathom. My will for you is also My best will for My children.

I realized I had a choice. I could run from God's call, falsely believing that "my way" would prove safer for us all, or I could follow Him. Mid-December I resolved to go wherever He called me to go.

I felt certain God had allowed me to walk through a valley of fear in order to prepare me to say yes to whatever He had in store. I began a new prayer journal in anxious expectation. On December 16th I recorded these words, "Lord, we've had a breakthrough! I feel you permitted me to be tempted by fear, to be reminded of how it would feel to live a life led by fear so I that I would know to say yes when Your perfect will is revealed. Help me to say yes, to obey with no backtalk or alternate suggestions, without consideration. I decide today to trust You."

Two days later a similar entry, "Lord, You are calling, preparing me for deliberate obedience" (which also went along with a recent devotional, see Utmost for His Highest, December 1st). In my journal I wrote, "What He called me to do ______________________," and dog-eared the page so that I could return at a later date and fill-in the blank.

In mid-January I delivered to a group of women at my church a message of the work God has done in my life--living abundantly in spite of our circumstances. The next day God began to gently place upon my heart the desire to share a similar message to Pastor's wives and missionaries who minister to women in Third World countries. Having never before considered going "on mission" I decided this idea must be from God, and vowed to be faithful to that vision in prayer.

In February I not-so-coincidentally ordered a book titled Revolution in World Missions by K.P. Yohannan and Gospel for Asia. With God tugging at my heart for missions I felt I should read up on the subject. In his book, K.P. emphasizes the need for and benefits of training indigenous missionaries to reach their own people groups with the Word of God. In the gospels Jesus met many physical needs but never without first addressing a person's spiritual need. Feeling passionate about doing what I could to help train national missionaries, I continued to wait for God's lead.

On February 24th I felt convicted (once again) about checking e-mail and social media before my time with the Lord, and as I shared in a blog titled My Morning Routine I vowed to leave my computer turned off until I finished my quiet time with the Lord. One week later The E-mail arrived. The rest, is his-story . . .

I share the details of my spiritual life with you not because I expect you to be enthralled by these events. I share the beginning steps of my journey to Africa to demonstrate God's faithfulness, His willingness to stoop down from Heaven to gently lead His sheep. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us if we will only stop long enough to ask Him for a revelation.

I agreed to go to Africa not because I want to, not because Africa is a rung on a career ladder I'd like to climb, not so that I can list "Africa" as an achievement on my resume. I agreed to go to Africa because I believe that is where God has asked me to go.

Like Abram, God's call to us may feel vague at first. I agreed to say yes to God this past December, long before I knew where the call would lead. We say yes to God's call regardless of our safety, without concern for our comfort or for the comfort of those we love, because when we say yes to God we experience the joy of His presence (Psalm 16:11). When we say yes to God we enjoy life to the fullest as He works through us to reconcile a lost and hurting world to Himself.

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