Monday, March 01, 2010

Outside of the Box

I have been wrestling the last few weeks over this decision of whether to move to Kona and work for Call2All or to stay here in Tacoma for now.  Initially, as is typical for me, my excitement over the opportunity was my driving force.  Now, also typically, some logical and practical considerations are making me take a step back to evaluate whether this is something I'd really say yes to or not.   I have taken a lot of comfort in Jacob, who also wrestled with the Lord.  (I'll probably post a blog in a day or two about all I have been gleaning from his wrestle.)

On the one hand, there are lots of really good reasons to go.  Those to whom I have talked to about this say things like, "You've been talking about the nations ever since I have known you." "You should go, why wouldn't you?"  And, it is a REALLY great opportunity.  I'd get to be a part of an organization that is doing some amazing things.  Getting to go to the nations is also a big plus.

On the other hand, I'd be doing administration.  Administration.  This is something I am gifted at, but for sure not the fullness of my heart.  To this, I have a whole other group of friends who warn me about not settling for Ishmael, when Isaac is the promise.

(As a side note, I love when people share their opinions with me.  This isn't because I am going to actually make my decision off of other's opinions, but rather that there is SUCH good wisdom and truth that comes out of these conversations which will help me make my own decision.)

I have noticed (and this is not a knock on any one organization/group etc.) that because so few people are actually *good* at administration, as soon as it is discovered that someone is gifted in that area, it's all people can think about.  People who are good at administration tend to get placed into this box.  The problem is that for me, I don't quite fit into the box.  I'd probably have a head and an elbow sticking out.  It would become uncomfortable for me after a while.

The thing is, that when I look at all of the reasons to say yes or all of the reasons to say no, neither list feels like the overwhelmingly obvious answer.  It would take a step of faith for me to go, and it would require the same step of faith for me to stay.

There is a big cost to saying "Yes" to this.  And, if I am honest, that scares me.  The cost of following the Lord is always there, but until you are actually confronted with "putting your money where your mouth is" and you actually have to give up real, tangible things, it is easier to *say* yes than it is to *do* yes. In my opinion most people truly never really *do* yes fully.  They have a whole list of things that they won't give up.  It becomes clear when the Lord actually does ask them and they won't do it.  Anything we say we "won't give up" prevents us from being fully obedient to the Lord.  It places US firmly on the throne of our lives instead of God.

For me, at minimum, I would be giving up:
    1.  the security of a place to live, my house
    2.  the security of a job, instead living off of support
    3.  having family near by
    4.  the area of friendships, I'll need to start over in developing community in Kona, and I'll be gone from Kona so much, that this will even be a challenge
    5.  my stuff, including pets and perhaps even family heirlooms
    6.  my calling-specifically my teaching and counseling gifting
    7.  my desire to be a wife and mother

I think it's number six that is pressing me and causing the most wrestle right now.   Because doing administration is not my calling.  Do I relinquish even the dreams and  hopes and vision of what *I* want for a dream, a vision and a calling that could have a greater impact on the world than my own personal desires in this area?

If I went, I'd have to go trusting the Lord to meet my every need.  I'd have to believe that though I would be doing administration, it would be a stepping stone to something else (what that "else" is, I have no idea) or that at a minimum, being a part of what is happening would be enough for me.  I'd have to trust that by laying aside *my* version of what I feel called to do for the bigger and greater purpose of serving Call2All that I will be blessed.  I would have to trust that by giving up everything (and I do mean everything) I'd gain something eternal.

In Luke 9 (and Matthew 8), Jesus talks about the cost of following Him:

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go."  Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head."

He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father."  Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God."

Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family."  Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."

Sometimes I wonder if all of my rational, logical reasons for doubting are just excuses.  Like the men in Luke, am I saying "Yes" with my mouth but not with my actions?  Are all of my fears just really things that I am idolizing and putting me first on?  Or, is this a real discernment on my part about settling for second best rather than holding out for the best?

I am not certain of the answer.  And, so, the wrestle continues....



  1. I remember when I was wrestling with leaving everything and going to Illinois. My list looked a lot like yours. I also had to give up a lot of the things I had become used to (my condo, most of my income, my friend community, etc) and it was like pulling off fingernails.

    I have two things that may help:

    1) I had a book called "Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough: A Guide to Nine Biblical Fasts" that had one fast in it for decision making. Because of it, I did a 3-day fast using the techniques suggested in the book and felt like I was able to hear the Lord much more clearly regarding my concerns and issues. In fact, after the fast was over, I felt like I had answers from scripture for each of my issues/concerns/fears, and that although nothing had changed (God did not "solve" any of the issues, but did give me truth about them) I felt confirmed to go.

    2) While its true that you may be giving up the things on your list - you don't know that its true - or any truer than staying in Seattle would be. For example, I was technically giving up my gift of teaching and discipleship to go work as Scotty's administrative assistant and I felt the same way "But what about my other gifts?!?!" ..... but the Lord ended up providing lots of opportunities for me to work with students doing mentoring and discipleship and even teaching opportunities. Conversely, I also said, "Lord, if I go there, then it likely means that I am putting off getting married and having kids....." and the Lord said, "yes, that may be true - but reminded me that whatever we sacrifice for him on earth will be repaid 100-fold in heaven." and has continued to remind me of that with each subsequent move because that is the one protest that has persisted in each move around the US.

    On the other hand, at the time that the offer came, the Lord had already prepared my heart to start something new, to take a new direction - I was feeling restless and as though I needed to be working with college students somehow. Like how you have a heart for the nations. We need to listen to the voice of our calling and walk in it, I think, even when the path looks as though its headed straight way from the goal the Lord pointed out to us (think of Much Afraid in the desert).

    Love you. Praying as you tackle these decisions! Tiff

  2. not sure if this will muddy your waters or not :) but a few things that struck me as I read your post.
    1. The part about taking your gifting into "your next life" (a.k.a. Kona, the nations): who's to say that gifting won't be necessary there? Just 'cuz you'd be a "tent maker" by day, doesn't mean you can't be a teacher/counselor by night. Although Paul was known for his ministry, that wasn't ALL he did.
    2. Relationships: the "church" isn't a building, just like a friendship isn't a weekly coffee date. Yes, your friendships will look different if/when you're out on the mission field, but different is ok. I'm sure there's LOTS of people who have learned the art of making/cultivating relationships when moving around is part of life.
    Why would you be "giving up" the dream of being a wife & mother just because you're not in Tacoma? If your heart is for the nations, wouldn't you want to meet a man who's also got the same passions? Kinda like couples who meet in the military, except you wouldn't have to be deployed separately :) Does getting married and having children require being "settled" in one place? Sure it's easier, but do you want easy or divine? Or is it that it won't look like what you've envisioned? Hard to have a typical US wedding when your closest friends are scattered around the world! Your kids won't have the same upbringing you did. Instead of little league, they may play cricket! :)
    I guess all this to say I'm proud of you for making your list. But definitely pray about the weight of each of those items and what it is they mean to you. Then do as Tiffani suggested and pray/fast about each one. Asking the Lord if that item really does carry the weight you FEEL it does. Maybe His timing is different (maybe, is it ever? ha ha) and He's massaging your heart now for a future decision He needs to you make. He may reveal to you that you should stay here for a season but when it's time to GO, you'll be so aware and prepared because of what He's doing in your now.

    Again, sorry to have muddied the waters! Just thought I'd stir your thoughts a bit. :)
    Love you and so proud of how you're pushing into this. It's not easy. But nothing in life worth doing ever is!