As January passed and winter slowly made its way through our part of the world, discontentment and a deep feeling that something was ‘off’ started kneading its way through our hearts.
As soon as we said yes to whatever it was we were saying yes to, God started shifting and molding our hearts in new ways. We knew we were headed for missions, and we knew it was in Thailand. We knew that the specifics would come in time, and the funny thing was, we didn’t care. Yes, my own Type A tendencies to plan and organize wanted to know immediately what was going to happen, but my heart was totally at peace. Together, Stephen and I felt a deep peace that was new to us.
Here’s the thing, we’ve done some crazy-takes-big-faith-and-a-big-commitment stuff before. I lived in India. Alone. Stephen left school to pursue his career. We married each other. I mean, we’ve taken risks before. But for some reason, this felt different. From the outside, it wasn’t that big of a deal or even that different than things we’ve done before. We knew though, despite not knowing the details, that this was different. That this was going to change things.
And it started with the discontentment. We started reading everything we could get our hands on about what the words of Jesus really meant, specifically regarding how Christians are to live in this world. We started seeking out every opportunity to talk with people who had ‘been there’ before, who were wise and living missionally right where they were.
It became real clear real quick that there were tons of areas of our lives we needed to get into line with what God says true belief looks like. The question we brought to our study was, “What did you want God, when you left us, your followers, on Earth, with the power of the Holy Spirit in us?” Our discomfort arose when we started to see that in God’s eyes, true faith in Him and real belief requires, demands, presupposes action.
What kind of action? Justice. Fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. Sacrifice, laying your needs down before the needs of even a stranger. Fasting and praying like you depend on a move of God. Thinking of and regarding others, yes even strangers again, as your family so you’ll care for them as you would your own flesh and blood. (See James 1:27, Isaiah 1:17, Zechariah 7:9-10, Jeremiah 22:3, Romans 12:15-18, Proverbs 31:9, Luke 10:30-37, 1John 3:17-18, Isaiah 58:6-12, Amos 5:11-15, Luke 4:18-19).
“What did you want God, when you left us, your followers, on Earth, with the power of the Holy Spirit in us?”
Our discomfort came from conviction, we know that now, but at the time we thought it was simply a ‘liberal’ or ‘social justice’ approach to faith that didn’t sit well with us. The things we once considered to be liberal or for those who were ‘into’ social justice were actually some of the very things God says He requires of those who claim to follow Him. (Matthew 16:24, John 4:23-24)
When we realized just how much of our minds and hearts and lives we needed to realign with what God says, the discontentment kicked into overdrive. Suddenly, the things that felt so life giving and fun before felt empty and meaningless. Even really great things, things God loves and would call lots of people to, became clothes that no longer fit for us.
In February, we found ourselves making a decision we knew made zero sense to some on the outside. We decided Stephen needed to step down from his awesome job at our great church. He didn’t have another job. We didn’t have a Plan B. We just knew he was done with being on the Pastoral Staff.
Again, we didn’t fully understand why, but we said yes. We knew him quitting had a lot to do with preparing for the mission field, but we didn’t understand how (especially without health insurance and a steady pay check). But we said yes.
We asked God to speak, to move, to show up. To tell us what to do, how to live, how to orient our lives like we actually believed He was real. We asked all this of God, so it only made sense, despite our own lack of understanding, to say yes. To give Him the room to show us how big He was and what exactly He wanted to do.
And that He did.