When the Call is Hard.

This week Josh and I took a big step towards making our life-changing move to Malawi happen. We moved to the apartment next door! That may not sound like a big step, but it’s huge. See, the apartment next door is a fully furnished apartment for missionaries. Moving next door allows us to sort, store and sell the majority of our things now. We are not planning to take much with us to Malawi, due to the cost of shipping and the chance of most of our things being lost or destroyed. Storing and selling our things now means we can cherish the last weeks we have with family and friends, rather than running around accomplishing tasks. For that I am extremely thankful. I wish I could say I’m thankful about parting ways with our things.

This week has been hard.

Moving my family into an apartment that doesn’t feel like our home is hard. Parting ways with furniture and décor that have been in our home since we got married is hard. Mostly, preparing to leave the town we’ve grown up in, the friends we cherish, and the family we love is hard.

God never promised us easy. In fact, he guarantees that living a life surrendered to him will be hard. He told his disciples, his most devoted followers, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” (John 16:33 NLT). The “trial” of having to surrender the earthly belongings that seem so special to us is mild. When I think of missionaries that have gone before me who have given their lives for the sake of the gospel, I’m humbled. I’m also sure that we will face greater sorrows in the months and years ahead. Why am I sure of that? Because following God’s call is hard. It is abundant and full of joy and peace, but it isn’t easy. If God allowed me to live in my “easy” place, I would accomplish nothing for his kingdom. I would never mature as a believer. I would certainly never move to the opposite side of the planet. I wouldn’t even move next door. Thankfully, he doesn’t let me live in my easy place. He pushes me, challenges me, and calls me to do hard things that make a big difference. I’m choosing to have the mindset of an athlete as I face the trials the next several months of preparation bring. Our Pastor’s Wife shared this Henrietta Mears quote that stuck out to me. “The athlete is not put under strict discipline for punishment, but merely to make him ready for the race. Christ is ever preparing us for the race that is set before us.” The next several months will be full of trials and sorrows, but thanks be to God who uses them to prepare me for the race.

Yes, being a follower of Christ comes with trials and sorrows. However, Jesus doesn’t end there. The rest of John 16:33 says, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” “Take heart” can also be translated “take courage”. I’m not going to dive into this here, because there will be many posts to come on bravery. Brave is my word for 2018. I will just say that God calls us to obey bravely, especially when it is hard. That last part is a promise, and God always keeps his promises. By saying “I have overcome the world”, he is saying “I have already won!”. No matter what trial and sorrow is thrown our way, we can find inexplicable peace in knowing that God has already won the battle. He has already defeated the enemy of our souls. The victory is HIS! When I cling to that, I know that he has everything in his hands. Not only does he have my circumstances under control, he has me in his hands. He carries me through every trial I face and promises that he will never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:5). Even when he doesn’t change our circumstances, he changes us. Recently, we sang a song in church that I remember hearing growing up called Sometimes He Calms the Storm by Scott Krippayne. So I’m going to throwback to the 90’s and leave you with the lyrics to this song that the Lord has used as a worshipful reminder in my life.

All who sail the sea of faith
Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark
And gentle winds grow strong

Suddenly fear is like white water
Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing
That our Lord is in control

Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will

Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child

He has a reason for each trial
That we pass through in life
And though we’re shaken
We cannot be pulled apart from Christ

No matter how the driving rain beats down
On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet peaceful place