when small steps of obedience look a lot like God’s will for our lives

Here’s what I believe about God: he’s vast and holy and unchanging.  Omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.  Unbounded by time or space.  Always has been, always will be.  Beyond our full comprehension.  And yet.  I believe we can still know him.  I believe we can know him AND his will.

It’s crazy, actually.

However, we, as Christians, love to talk circles around “finding God’s will” for our lives. It’s just what we do.  Like it’s this mystical, magical, unreachable thing.  But I’m here to suggest- after oodles of experience playing this same game- that it’s not all that tricky after all.  I mean, I THOUGHT it was.  I spun my wheels for years praying and talking to wise counsel and reading deep books and, oh hello, blogging my feelings… all to decipher what the Lord wanted from me.  From us.

And all these things are well and good.  Yet, when I began to sense that God might actually be serious about this missions thing- when I started to realize that he might be calling US- my prayers became a bit more desperate.

“No, no, God.  I need you to, like, tell me.  WITH WORDS.  Spelled in the sky or shouted into my ear.  Or maybe you could even pull a Moses and talk to me from a burning bush.  I’d be down with that as long as you make this very, abundantly, overwhelmingly obvious.  Mkay, thanks.”

Meanwhile, God was probably all “Hey, girl… heeeey! Ever heard of the Bible?  The thing you call ‘the Word of the Lord’?  Oh yeah!  Check it- my plans and my will for your life is RIGHT IN THERE.”

Right.  Some of us are slow learners.

Because I knew the words.  I memorized the Great Commission as a kid.  I knew that Scripture straight up tells us to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus.  I just, I don’t know, forgot these verses were for me.  I failed to consider that maybe these pages of the Bible actually spelled out God’s will for me, clear as day.

But God’s patient.  He’s also relentless.

So, he flew us around the globe- country after country- to show us the work he is doing.  To break our hearts wide open for the vast and broad physical needs, yes- for poverty, famine, fleeing refugees, and limited access to healthcare.  But even more, he overwhelmed us with the lack of gospel access around the world.

It is for this reason that I will always, always, be an advocate for short-term missions trips. Done correctly, they can make an enormous impact of people’s lives.  However, it just so happens that the people impacted are typically the participants themselves.

Like us.  I digress.

SO.  We had the Bible telling us to “go into all the world”.  We had short-term trips giving us a deep, deep love for distant lands and cross-cultural ministry.  And then, God decided to pull out all stops over the past two years when he legit bombarded our family with people knee-deep, doing this work.  I am not even kidding you.  Missionaries AND THEIR KIDS invaded our lives.  At school and at church and at work.  Even at home.  Because OF COURSE we would unknowingly hire a nanny who grew up overseas as a missionary kid.

Let me just tell you.  It’s really dang hard to ignore God’s call to the nations when he’s surrounding you with people whose stories from those very nations now felt intensely personal.  Whose kids would give context to life overseas for our three wary children.  Who could look into our eyes and give unfiltered “been there, done that” truth.

It was time to reevaluate how we were viewing this whole “God’s will” business.

Long story short, that’s precisely what we’ve been doing throughout the course of the past year.

We took inventory of our gifts and passions.

We considered our deep love of Africa.

We thought about our desire and willingness to move overseas.

We enlisted our closest friends to pray over this decision and invited them to push back if they saw any red flags at all.

We, ourselves, prayed.  A lot.  A lot a lot.

And we held all of this up to what God himself has said all throughout the pages of Scripture.

And boom.  The answer quickly became glaringly- almost annoyingly- obvious.  With that, we committed last summer to start the application process.  We told God, “Hey, we see what you’re doing here.  And we’ll start taking steps of obedience in this direction.  If you keep opening doors for us to head overseas, we’ll keep walking right through them.  But you just stay near.  Because, dear God, this feels crazy.”

We kept waiting for doors to slam shut.  Which never happened.  So, we held up our end of the bargain and kept right on stepping.

And as we take those tiny one-foot-in-front-of-the-other steps of obedience, I’m learning that maybe God’s will is a lot less about what big things we’re going to do for him and a lot more about what God’s going to do in us.

Onward.  One step at a time.

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