By: Krista Fox
Originally posted in Shout Life Style Magazine - http://www.shoutlifestyle.com/called-out-upon-water-bss
It’s night and I look across the bay from the dock where our borrowed sailboat is. A small town in the Dominican Republic that is our mission field sits unnaturally aglow, despite the complete darkness that surrounds it. It is a place filled with spiritual darkness, a place known as ‘Little Thailand’ due to the sex trade of men, women, boys and girls. I think this is what Sodom and Gomorrah must have resembled.
I look to that glowing town, and remember the young woman I saw earlier being violently sick in the bathroom and moments later returning to her ‘date’. I recall the older woman who hadn’t been shown kindness and affection for many years, and how much it meant that someone was thinking of her, and praying for her and how her face lights up every time I see her in town now. This town is home to many of the kids that now run up to myself, my husband, and our kids and offer us hugs instead of their candies, gums, or bodies.
My mind drifts away as the sermon begins, “Today we will be in Luke…” My mind has left the church walls and is now fully occupied in a personal conversation with God. As the lights dim and the worship music begins again, signaling the end of service, I’m startled back to reality, and realize I haven’t heard much of what the pastor has said.
I’m starting to think I’ve got an attitude problem.
Here I sit in church, wanting to be somewhere else. I’m sure there are plenty of people who have felt this way on any given Sunday, but for me this was a bigger deal than most. My husband and I are active leaders in our community church, one we helped plant, and one that my husband is also an assistant pastor for. We are plugged into a church with great families, solid Bible teaching, and filled with people that we consider our family. Yet, I’m feeling called in another direction.
So, I pray. I pray that God will show me what to do. I pray that if it is an attitude problem, then it would be exposed and God and I could work through it. I also pray that my husband’s heart would change to meet mine, and for our God to unite our hearts in one calling together. I decide to keep this specific prayer to myself and let God work it out. I would love to say that I am praying these things with utmost confidence, but I am not. I’m convinced that this desire is just something I have to get over and forget about and move ahead serving faithfully where I am at.
And so I do. However, after awhile it becomes clear that my husband’s heart is beginning to change as well. He too wants to serve in a different capacity. He has been the guy that was at church early and stayed late; he took calls through the night and made visits to hurting people and families whenever there was a need. I love how much he cares for the people in our lives and in the church. Yet it is clear to me, God is on the move.
As we pray and prepare ourselves for what is next, it's been amazing to look back over the years and see the preparation that has had to happen for us to be on this path. Not just what God had to do with us as a family or a married couple, but how He had to work through me as well. At times, this journey was difficult, and other times freeing. I am pleased to know that the work God has started in me is not done and He is faithful to finish what He has begun.
Three years ago, I was a professional therapist with a private practice. Just when I thought that I had attained my professional goals, God asked me to consider taking my kids out of their school and to homeschool them. I never had the slightest inclination to homeschool my kids prior to this.
He was not forceful in this request, He simply asked me to consider the possibility. So, I considered it and prayed about it, and soon thereafter I had a desire in my heart to bring my kids home from their schools and teach them myself. God's desire for me and my family had become mine as well because He had changed my heart. In my naivety, I assumed that this choice was a great sacrifice on my part, one I was willing to do, for the sake of my kids. However, I had not considered that this was not only for the benefit of my children, but God had some work to do in me as well.
After some time of trying to juggle being a new homeschool family and being an owner and therapist in my small private practice, I began to hear that small voice suggest something I did not want to hear. He quietly suggested that I close my therapy practice. The thought of closing my office felt like giving up on a dream. I was devastated. My degrees, my business, my independence had not only given me some sense of normalcy, it was part of my identity. I wasn't just a homeschool mom or pastor's wife, I was a therapist, a business owner, a highly educated woman. That had given me a great sense of accomplishment because it was my own. The only problem with this was that it was not what God wanted me to identify myself with.
God knew where He was going to take me and my family and where He wants us to go; my only job was to trust His leading. Each step of faith, some small some large, was preparing me for the very large step of faith I am currently considering, sell everything and go.
God is calling my family and I out into His world. He has placed a desire in our hearts to leave our cars, our family and friends, our church, jobs, and anything that resembles anything comfortable, familiar and/or normal. He is calling us to give up all of these things for a time to explore His world and to love His people. My husband and I, along with our two kids have a vision of moving onto a sailboat and sailing around the world as missionaries.
And I can’t wait.
You see, I did not understand then what I’ve come to know now, that my heart was burdened because I wasn’t walking in the freedom of Christ. I was walking in the roles and rules set up by man. I realize now that I will always fail serving in that way. I will never be able to make all the meetings, go to all the Bible studies, or be able to attend all of the outreaches.
I wanted to be used by God and serve as I saw others doing around me, but it just wasn’t working out. For years I thought I must be doing something wrong in my service to God, that I must have some sort of issue with my servant’s heart. I know now that there was nothing wrong with my heart, nor was it an attitude problem, my heart was just resistant to the works and demands being placed upon me by others to serve in a certain way. It was only when I experienced God’s grace in my life that I realized that God has a whole world in need of being loved, and that it does not take a person to lead me, guide me, or send me to these areas; it takes my husband and I’s faith and trust in God.
I first experienced this freedom in Christ last year while serving in a sex worker town in the Dominican Republic. We weren’t sent out by our church, nor were we received by a church when we arrived. We simply were led by the Spirit of God to do what He asks all of us believers to do, go and make disciples. We didn’t speak the language, and we did not have a defined goal, we just knew we were to go, and God used it. It’s through this freedom in Christ that makes the concept of selling our things and going to wherever He wants us to be far less scary and much more exciting.
God has only revealed the first few steps He is asking us to take, but has given us a vision of where those steps may lead. While God has not yet shown us where, how, or what the vision of His work looks like for us, He has clearly laid some initial steps for us to follow. Just as He gave Abraham the command to go without knowing where, we trust that God will lead us as we honor His request to go. Hebrews reports that Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance, and he went out not knowing where he was going.
We have sold our business, lovingly parted with our church, are selling our house, and started the process of finding a live-aboard sailboat. We are being faithful in these steps of obedience and trust that He will guide and show us the next steps just as clearly. God has called us out and we are going. While God has not shown us where we are going yet, or even what we are to be doing specifically, I have come to realize that that’s not the most important aspect of all of this. God does not need my family’s work, He desires our hearts. He has our paths laid out and He goes before us, and until He reveals His plans we will continue to pray and wait. And when he calls us out upon the water, we will step out in faith.