Courageous Obedience to Curious Calls
Welcome to my first blog post. I know what you’re thinking-Yet another ‘hotshot’, ‘young gun’, ‘hipster’ thinking they are God’s gift to the planet. Off to save Africa. At least, I know that’s what I would be thinking. I hope the message of the site has already done some to break down this perception. If not, keep reading.
Missions is nothing new to me. My parents have been running a missions organization since I can remember. My first trip to Africa was when I was about four years old, and since then, I have been more times then I can count. In my short twenty years, I have been to almost as many countries. It was nothing out of the ordinary when in April 2018, while studying at Portland Bible College (PBC), God changed my plans for the summer. Working to try and raise next semester’s tuition became volunteering in Global Harvest Ministries’ many endeavors in Uganda.
God seems to like changing our plans. I don’t know if it is that we, as fallible humans, are bad at making plans, or God simply finds springing things on us before we really have time to contemplate the consequences, achieves a higher rate of obedience. Whatever the case may be, if you are actively pursuing a God-directed life, prepare for detours and alternate routes. They may not make sense in our micro-vision, but they fit perfectly in God’s macro design.
Mike Quinlan and family, an extension of my own family more than colleagues, had recently joined our operations at Global Harvest Ministries as our Director of Operations and as Pastor of Arua Pentecostal Church. It seemed the perfect time for me to come and lend a hand. After a couple of months, many surprises and a few bumps along the way, I heard that familiar voice once again and wondered what would be turned upside down this time. God asked me to take a semester off my studies in Portland and focus on serving His people in Uganda. After praying about it and confirming that this was indeed God’s will, He gave me three things I was to do: Love the people, serve with all my heart, and demonstrate to His people what "obedience to the call" and "the front lines" really look like. I am attempting to live this season with those things in mind, hence going back to Uganda, and the inception of this blog.
With vision set before me, I started speaking out what the Lord was saying, discussing it with my parents, sharing with Mike and Elva, and eventually telling those I was doing life with in Uganda. The funny thing is, sometimes God has a way of gracing us to get the vision out of our mouths before we ever really get to wrap our heads around it ourselves. Now having told everyone, “I’m coming back to Africa!”, I had to grapple with the reality that my words had set before me. If you’ve ever done missions, you know that even if the place isn’t that bad - the food is alright, the people are great - it still isn’t home, it still isn’t comfortable, and you don’t want to be there for longer than necessary. All these things came rushing to me like a flood. Suddenly realizations that I wouldn’t be graduating with my friends, wouldn’t get to be in the amazing learning culture that I had grown to love at PBC, giving up many luxuries that we as North Americans often take for granted and that I’d be away from friends and family at least until Christmas crashed over me like a wave. I understood at that moment like I had every time I watched my dad leave for the airport to do another crusade in North Africa and the Middle East knowing how hard it was in the flesh to leave his family behind, the call of God comes at a cost. Sometimes it’s something simple like giving up a few bucks when the Lord asks, and other times it’s being willing to lay down our very lives.
I don’t know if you can relate but I like to be in control. I enjoy being able to set my own path, do my own thing and set everything in the precious order it needs to be to achieve my desired outcome. God and I disagree on this more than just about anything else. Maybe that’s why He enjoys surprising me with spontaneous trips to Africa. My plan was four successful, consecutive years at Bible College, maybe intern or become an Associate Pastor somewhere and then launch out into the missionary-evangelism ministry that God has called me to. Taking time out of the plan, was never in the plan. Yet God mysteriously, wondrously, knowingly and at times annoyingly, changes our plans to show us who is really in control and who knows best. The opportunity of it all is that if we will yield and allow Him to take the lead, He shows us a freedom and fulfillment beyond what our ‘plan’ could ever bring.
I am learning, at times painfully, that to live a life yielded to the Holy Spirit requires a courage many admire but few dare to talk about.
I returned home from my summer in Uganda and made a call to my boss in Portland explaining the situation and that I wouldn’t be returning this semester. After that, I called the school. The sigh of relief that it was finished quickly washed away to the doubt that so easily ensnares our minds. Obedience sometimes requires shaking off the doubt and returning to the confidence in your spirit that says, you’re on the right track-a lesson I had to rely upon heavily when in Portland.
It was necessary for me to go back to campus, get my car and grab my belongings. It was a lot of fun days, mixed with a lot of bittersweet moments with friends - family rather - who made leaving all the more difficult. “I wish I could stay, but I know this is what God wants me to do”, quickly became the catchphrase of the week.
Now I sit here typing this blog, knowing more than ever that this is what God wants me to do. Does that make the hard things easier? Often no. The easy thing would be the status quo, comfort, staying at school enjoying time with my friends, not giving up steady electricity, drinkable tap water, the miscellaneous luxuries of home. Sometimes God asks us to do hard things. He doesn’t expect us to pretend they are easy, wear rose coloured glasses and turn a blind eye to what we are saying “no” to in order to say “yes” to God. Elisha, when confronted with the call of God offered by Elijah, said, “Wait, let me kiss my father and my mother good-bye, and then I will come with you.” Elisha knew that God had asked a hard thing of him and in a moment of honesty went back and looked at all he was giving up, said his goodbyes, and was obedient nonetheless.
I guess maybe obedience just comes down to trust. Elisha trusted that what God had for him outnumbered everything that he had accumulated and all that his plans could attain. I am still working on the whole trust thing. In all honesty, we all are. But when I think of the next season that God has for me, yes, it is scary, and He’s asked me to give up a lot, but I can’t help feeling an excitement for all that God has waiting beyond the door of my obedience. I read something today that struck a chord, “We can get caught up in our own world and not recognize that there are people whose lives hang in the balance as God waits on our response to Him” (Henry and Norman Blackaby).
So, I will leave you with this: God continually asks us to do hard things, whether it be as simple as giving half a sandwich to your work mate, or telling someone an awkward “Jesus loves you.” Whatever it might be that He is asking you to do, you don’t have to pretend it is easy or deny that there are things you have to say “no” to, but if you do want to live a reckless, spirit-lead, Jesus-like life, be obedient. And as for me, “I have counted up the cost and You [Jesus] are worth it” (The Rend Collective).