When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” ~ Luke 9:24Whoever Loses His Life For My Sake Will Save It
Sometimes stepping out in faith seems like stepping out on a limb, but in reality it is the decision to be God’s limb… to be His hands and feet in a world that needs to see the love of Christ. Stepping out in faith is a decision to be His branch, firmly attached to the True Vine, abiding in Him while moving and growing wherever He leads. Stepping out in faith is making the decision that Christ is enough. It is embracing the reality that He alone is my hope, my future and my security. It’s being confident that He will accomplish His purpose, in His timing, in His way and for His glory.
“For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” ~ Philippians 2:13
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” ~ John 15:1
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” ~ John 15:4-5
Our 4th short-term trip to Rome last October was very different from our other trips. It was a time for counting the cost… Fears and questions pounded my mind to the point where I couldn’t sleep. Without a doubt, the hardest part to wrap my brain around was the reality of moving so far away from our family… particularly our six grandkids! I was also beginning to see Rome without my enchanted rose-colored glasses and becoming more aware of the underbelly of the impoverished zone of Tor Bella Monaca where we’ll be living.
To top it all off, I was concerned about not knowing Italian well enough to communicate the gospel and realizing how dangerous it could be if we needed to communicate in the case of an emergency. We have been taking Italian lessons for over a year (and practicing with Rosetta Stone for even longer). We’ve learned a lot, but we still struggle with the grammar and syntax that is so different from English.
After wrestling with my fears and questions one long sleepless night in Rome last October, I finally got out of bed at three in the morning to pray. I picked up Mike’s Bible and a photocopied page fell out. The title read, “Biographies of bold disciples begin with chapters of honest terror.” I knew that this was for me! God proceeded to comfort me with His presence, and through His word He answered my many questions as I poured my heart out to Him.
That morning I gave it all into my Father’s very capable hands and became more convinced than ever that this outlandish plan to move clear across the world, is indeed His will for us and that He intends to use my weakness for His glory! Later in the week, we had a conversation with Pastor Brent. He told us about the struggles they faced as they began to serve as missionaries in Rome and how they came to realize that if it was God’s perfect will for them to be there, so far from their family, then it was also God’s perfect will for every other member of their family as well.
A few days after we returned to the States, my dad surprised me with a blessing we weren’t anticipating. It seems, he can get discounted family passes so we can fly stand-by on the airline that purchased the company where he retired. The distance doesn’t seem quite so far when the cost to visit family is so much less than we thought it would be! God had my biggest concern covered all along and was just waiting for me to get on board, before revealing it to me!
The page that slipped from Mike’s Bible was from a book by Max Lucado. I found out later that it was given to him the Sunday before we left for Rome, from someone who felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to send it with us. It also reads…
“For fear of doing the wrong thing for God, some do nothing for God. For fear of making the wrong kingdom decision, some make no kingdom decision. For fear of messing up, some will miss out.”…
“Faith begins when you see God on the mountain and you know that you’re too weak to make the climb. You see what you need… you see what you have… and what you have isn’t enough to accomplish anything… Faith that begins with fear will end up nearer the Father.”
“When is your departure date?” To that frequently asked question, we often respond, “We are flying stand-by.” Literally, we will be flying stand-by, because God has blessed our socks off with an amazing gift! (More on that in another post.) But figuratively speaking, anyone who steps out in faith is “flying stand-by”! Waiting on the Lord is a lesson that God wants all who follow Him to embrace. We would like to have our future nicely laid out before us, but that isn’t usually the way God works. He wants us to learn to walk by faith as He reveals one step at time.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” ~ Proverbs 16:9
We are aiming to move this fall and we’re asking the Lord to establish our steps and steer our course along the way. I’ve heard it said that it is easier to steer a moving vehicle than one that is standing still. So, by faith we are putting one foot in front of the other in the direction God is leading us. Yes, that involves risk! Everything of any value does. Mike is closing his business (unless you know someone who might like to buy it?) I am leaving a job that I dearly love. My last day as the Children’s Ministry Director for Calvary Spokane is July 22. We will be moving away from friends, family and our home church of 31 years. We have six beautiful grandchildren who will grow and change while we’re away. Yes, the cost is huge!…As it is for anything valuable.
We have counted the cost and determined our Lord, who gave everything for us, is worth it! There are still many obstacles that only the Lord can remove from our path. One being our visas, which are much harder to receive than we originally anticipated. But I am reminded of the path that God chose for the Israelites, as they journeyed to the Promised Land. God led them right up to the Red Sea… on purpose! It’s all about learning to trust Him as we walk by faith. Like flying stand-by, we will only be there when God takes us there. I’m also reminded of another time when the Israelites were dependent on God to open a path through rough waters in the third chapter of Joshua. God required them to get their feet wet as they stepped out in faith. Then God parted the water of the Jordan so they could walk to the other side.
So, here we are, stepping out with wet feet, dependent on the Lord to part the sea of obstacles before us as we fly stand-by on our journey to Rome!