"He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." Mark 16:15
"...and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
Often times in church services, or crusades, or evangelistic outreaches, we get spurred on by a fantastic sermon or message. We get all pumped up in the heat of the moment, and somewhere along the way our heart cries out and we say "Okay God! Whatever you want- use me!" Or we'll see a natural disaster on TV and we'll tell God that if he can use us in some way to do so.
But do we really mean it?
When we're in the throes of passion- in an intoxicating atmosphere of God, and we yearn to do whatever He asks of us, do we really and truly mean it? If God told us right then and there to give away all our belongings and travel to the outer reaches of the earth, would we do it? Or would that be the moment where we say "Well, I didn't mean quite that extreme, maybe I could write a check instead- or go on a short two-week mission trip." I wonder about that sometimes. I know often times in my daydreams, and even in my night dreams, I have dreams of just walking up to people and healing them or freeing them from their bondages, but then when confronted with reality, I chicken out. Do I really mean it when I tell God to use me however He wants? Maybe it's a work in progress. I think I have baby steps to take before I can go leaping off the cliff that is hanging out somewhere before me.
Late last summer, when we were preparing to move, we were really having a tough time finding a place to move to. What was supposed to be an easy move was becoming more complicated, and all these open and available places we'd seen in the past were suddenly gone- our out of our budget. We started out all excited about the process, eager to look at potential homes and choose the best one. But somewhere along the way, after not seeing what we wanted, we realized that we needed to give the process to God. We wanted to move to the exact place that He wanted us. It was then, at that moment in our home search that it seems as if that was exactly what God had wanted in the first place. Not even a day or so later, our landlord showed up at the door, proposing that we stay until spring.
This really rattled me at first, I admit it. I mean, we were so ready to move- half our belongings were in boxes or totes, we even had people lined up to help us move- and a truck at our disposal. We also had a back-up plan to move in with family. But here it was- we gave the home search to God, and just like that, He presented a solution to let us stay here through the winter. It took us no time at all to see God's hand in this plan, and we agreed to stay. The whole time that we've been here though, I have to admit that I've thought that our staying here until spring was a blessing to us- it was because our new home wasn't going to be ready yet, and that God wanted us here for a reason.
But what if that reason- what if God wanting us to stay here was not for our benefit? What if God had us stay put because He wanted to bless the people who own this house? What if He knew they would not find the right tenants, and the house would sit empty all winter, causing problems and undue stress. And furthermore, what if our staying here in this house makes it so that it is available to just the right people at just the right time? Had we moved out in September like we'd originally wanted, odds are that it would not be available at the end of April when someone may very well need to be moving in here. God works in such mysterious ways.
You know, over the last few days I've really been wondering if our staying here through the winter was simply a test of obedience. Would we really listen to God when he said stay. And in that regard, will we listen when He says go?
I do know this. I know that my Father loves me and my family. But so much more than that- God loves our landlords, and doesn't want them to stress and worry about anything in regards to this house. God also loves the people who will eventually move into this house- and He loves our housemates, and He loves our neighbors. Over the last month or so, I have had more than one moment of regret about our decision to move. We really do have a good relationship with most of our neighbors, and the idea of starting over... it's intimidating. And it's also got to be tough for some of these neighbors to know that this is a rental, and that they have no idea who could be moving in here when we move out. God has the perfect people in mind to bless this neighborhood-and to bless our landlords by making the whole transition process smooth as silk.
I will admit though, that while I think I have been willing... last night on the drive home from church I was second guessing myself again. We may have found a place to move to. It meets our bare minimum requirements, and I think Andy and I have both talked to God about it, and we feel good, that if it's the one, everything will work out smoothly and that if we do move there, we will be content. And yet... Yet, there is the part of me that is pining away for the impossible. I'm just not ready to let go of that dream- of that possibility. Because I know that with God, all things are possible, and He could put us in the impossible with barely a thought. But maybe, just maybe, in the neighborhood that has come to our attention, a little light is needed. Maybe there are a couple of kids in the neighborhood who need some new friends. Maybe there is a lonely old widow who Andy can go be a blessing to. Maybe there are people in that neighborhood who need to meet Jesus- and we can be the tools that God uses for that purpose.
Am I really okay with that? Am I willing to give up the impossible dream to be God's instrument? I think I am. I think that God has His plans, and that everything will work out according to His purposes. He knows exactly where He wants us, and when the time is right, everything will work out with His perfect timing. I trust in that.