This is the hardest and easiest blog post I have written yet.
It’s the hardest because this issue is still something I really, really struggle with. Some days are better than others.
It’s the easiest because, since I’m right in the midst of going through it, I have really struggled with the LORD about it and He’s taught me a lot through His Word and through the wisdom of others.
I think it’s necessary to write this because---especially since this week is missions week at Bell Shoals---I observe a lot of people (young women especially) who have the same really unhealthy view of missions that I had only a year ago.
The same view that had the potential to completely wreck my marriage.
I am sensitive to bad thinking in this area because I have had some really bad thinking in this area.
Some background: Even before I was a genuine Christian I wanted to be a pastor’s wife. In 10th or 11th grade I was willing to expand that desire and the job of “missionary” was also an option for “what I want to be when I grow up.”
The guy I really wanted to marry (Peter, now my husband) was risk-taking, great at evangelism, and majoring in Missions at college. I think anyone who knew him would vote Peter as “Most Likely to Be a Missionary.”
“Here am I, send me!” was my prayer and I spent so much of high school and college being restless, painfully itching to go overseas to tell the best news ever to people who had never heard about Jesus.
Before marriage as Peter and I talked about our future, ministry in some capacity was definitely the plan.
At GOC (the missions week at Bell Shoals) last year, I met a couple who lives in China and I wanted to live with them for awhile so we could learn from them and maybe stay there for the rest of our lives. If that didn’t work out, I had multiple back-up plans and I was very passionate about all of them.
About a month later, Peter told me he was no longer pursuing the missions track and he just wanted to work hard, lead his family, and live a quiet life here...at least for awhile.
I was completely shattered to pieces. It felt like someone had died. This wasn’t part of the deal, I thought. I married a future missionary, not someone with a normal job!
“My goal is to glorify God,” Peter reminded me, and I knew he meant it. “Isn’t that enough?” But no, it wasn’t enough for me.
My brokenness over this was very disconcerting, and Peter suggested that since I had such a strong reaction to his current career choice that my dreams of becoming a missionary were idolatrous. I had never considered that a possibility, but after struggling with Peter more about it I found that to be true. I’m not sure if it was the glory of man or what, but my “desire for the nations” was clearly not as pure as I thought.
I was saying “Here am I, send me”, as long as “sending” meant “leaving.” But what if God sent me to stay?
In other words, my submission to the LORD was conditional. “I’ll go anywhere You want as long as it’s not the suburbia in which I grew up.” But what if that suburbia is exactly where He called me?
Now this idea of “calling” must really be reconsidered. If I feel that my “calling” overseas is stronger than my “calling” to be submissive to my husband, I am blatantly out of God’s will because the Bible commands that I am submissive to Him. (I read a really helpful article on the will of God here.)
So here are some things to remember for those of you who want to go overseas or do something particular for the LORD but simply cannot go right now (or maybe ever):
-God would not call you out of submission to your husband or your parents (if you are still under their roof.)
It’s Satan, not the LORD, who wishes to tear families apart, and he’s vile enough to tempt us with very biblical things that breed very unbiblical priorities.
Don’t trade the gospel image of submission for a romanticized idea.
-If you think right now you’re being called to something (like overseas missions) and it conflicts with where you’re already called (submission to husband or parents), you’re not really called.
God is not conflicted and His sovereign workings are always in perfect unity with His revealed will in scripture.
-God’s hands aren’t tied by your location or opportunities.
One time I was talking to an unmarried girl and she was carrying on as if it was impossible for her to live for God until she got married.
God would not put you in a situation where it is impossible to live for Him.
Paul was in prison (the biggest obstacle I can think of) and He was grateful for the opportunities He had to witness to the people there. (See Philippians 1.)
-Even the hearts of kings are waters in His hands.
Any time God wants, He can “flip the switch” and make your authorities give you the green light.
Don’t let yourself think that God is saying “Hey, I’m on your side here, but you can’t be a missionary until this stubborn situation gets resolved. Sorry.”
He closes and opens doors with perfect purposes. Instead of complaining about your lot, rejoice in God’s sovereignty and know that He will fulfill His purpose for you and that you will walk in the good works that He has prepared beforehand for you.
No one can thwart His plans; our God is in the Heavens and He does all that He pleases.
-Remember why you want to go overseas in the first place. Is it to make Christ known?
Don’t view your time in America just as “practice for the future” or “a waiting room”; make Christ known here!
As Matt Setliffe has pointed out, in Acts 17 from all outside views it would appear that Paul was in a season of waiting, but his spirit was provoked for the city where he was, and he capitalized on the opportunity to share the gospel!
(Hudson Taylor also was a great example of this; his autobiography is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read. It’s very short and you can read it online for free!)
I don’t want to make this post too long, so stay tuned for tomorrow when I talk about how we can be missional where we are.
And please know, I LOVE missions. God's main purpose in everything is to make Himself known among all nations. If you are pursuing foreign work, praise God! I just don't want to cheap foreign missions with a romanticized, idolatrous view of it.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a former skater dude and raising three little people ages 1-5. I like chartreuse, calligraphy, Coke Icees, childbirth, crocs, Studio C, and...alliteration.
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Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today