If you haven’t read parts 1 – 5, you should read those first. Or maybe skim them if you don’t have that long at the computer. 🙂
So, Patrick made it home with just enough time to change clothes and hop in the car with the rest of us that Sunday evening. We sat together in church as the former Muslim, now dynamic Christian teacher, challenged us to use our freedom and resources and . . . well, our entire lives to reach the world for Christ.
The more he spoke, the more I knew God was asking me — asking us — to make this our life goal. God burdened me for missions. He impressed upon me that we needed to leave the life we had and make this our life’s ministry. By the time this missionary came to his closing prayer and challenge to listen for God’s call, I knew I was hearing God’s call. I knew God wanted us to be full-time missionaries.
Ok. That’s all well and good, but I’m not single. I wasn’t single back in 2005. I was pregnant with my sixth child, and my husband had a perfectly fine job. We had a home and were involved in our church. We gave money to missions. He was even going on a two-week trip to help some missionaries in the Philippines later that summer, you may remember. We had friends. I was involved in a MOPS group. Our children were in AWANA. We loved our life. And I had never, ever heard my husband even wonder aloud or ponder or mention for a minute the idea of leaving it all to become a missionary. I couldn’t exactly make this decision for us. So what was I supposed to do with this calling?
I have a tendency to be very persuasive. Patrick often says he finds it difficult to argue or debate with me because I make it seem like any alternative to my opinion is just idiotic. I don’t mean to do this, and I’ve been asking the Holy Spirit to change me and help me be careful about how I express myself. I tell you that to say that I didn’t want to tell Patrick about this calling because I didn’t want to convince him that we should be missionaries. I mean, what if I’d misunderstood? I certainly didn’t want to persuade Patrick and then be wrong! So, the most unbelievable part of this whole story is that I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say a word to Patrick about feeling called to missions. I just prayed, asking God to make it clear to Patrick — if I had understood Him correctly.
Well, while I was sitting on the pew feeling burdened about missions and, quite honestly, feeling as if I might throw up from the knowing that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me and calling us to full-time missions, Patrick was right beside me. Like two inches from me. And he, very suddenly, knew God was pointing at him and saying, “You. I want you and your family in full-time missions.” Patrick says he actually wanted to turn around to see who was sitting behind us because he was certain God had gotten the wrong pew. Though Patrick is an excellent teacher of the Word, he does not consider himself a preacher. He certainly never thought of himself as a church-planter or anything like that. And he did have this growing family to consider. He didn’t exactly relish the idea of telling his pregnant wife that he wanted to take her and all these kids away from home and possibly to the middle of a jungle somewhere. He is the spiritual leader of our family, but it has never been his style to single-handedly make decisions and just tell me that’s how it is. So Patrick did what he did before, he told God that if He wanted us in missions, He’d have to tell me Himself.
And so for a few weeks, both of us kept quiet. We didn’t say a word to each other about what God was doing. Instead, we were both praying for God to give us the same heart.
Then one day we were talking about the money we would receive when the purchase of the company was finalized. (Remember — the company Patrick worked for was being purchased and all the employees were receiving a portion of the money from the sale.) We talked about how great it would be to get rid of all that debt. We talked about how this unexpected blessing was so much easier than Dave Ramsey’s plan, and we were thankful God had given us a fast-track way to get out of debt. Trying to sound casual and as if my comment were completely off-hand, I said, “Yeah, you know a good thing about being out of debt is that if God wants to use us in some way, we would be free to obey Him. You know, like if He did something crazy and called us to missions, we could do it.” I sort of held my breath waiting for Patrick’s response.
Patrick half-laughed and said, “Funny you should say that . . . ” And he began to tell me how God had spoken to him that evening of the mission conference. He told me he felt like he would die if he didn’t leave everything and go into full-time missions. What a brave man! I was around four months pregnant with our sixth child. My wonderful husband was taking quite a step of faith to tell all of this to a walking ball of hormones.
But he had nothing to fear. I laughed out loud, just the most joyful, YAY-God laugh, and I said, “Funny you should say that!” And I told him how God had spoken to me at the exact same moment, how God had softened my heart on Saturday evening and Sunday morning and then had clearly delivered His message to me that Sunday evening.
For a long time, we talked together about how God had prepared us for years and years for this moment. We rejoiced that He had spoken to us both so clearly at the same time, so neither of us felt as if we were convincing the other. Neither of us could blame or resent the other when times got difficult. Neither of us could question if this were really God’s idea or just the misguided beliefs of the other one of us. No, God left us no doubts. Often during our married life we have asked God for clear direction. Our favorite saying in praying for direction is, “Please, Lord, make it as obvious as a two-by-four upside the head.” Well, this was our two-by-four upside the head. No doubt.
And so we decided to not mention this to anyone else just yet. We didn’t know exactly how we would proceed this from point. Both of us were willing to go wherever God wanted us. Both of us knew we’d leave everything and pour our lives into reaching the world with the gospel. We just had no clue exactly what that meant yet. So we decided to pray together and ask God, “Ok, what next?”
Oh, I hope this story is filling your heart with love for our Father. Reliving it all sure is making me love Him more. He worked so patiently and steadily and calmly in our lives. He softened our hearts and orchestrated everything perfectly to accomplish His purpose. His timing in all of this was just exactly perfect. He is in charge of every detail of every life; He is completely sovereign. And yet, He cares so much about each of us. He is so personal. I hope you’ve noticed those aspects of His character in this story of our lives. There’s more to come. I’ll write Part 7 soon. He kindly confirmed to us in several ways that we hadn’t imagined all of this, that He really was doing this in our lives. Oh, He is just so good to us. So faithful and kind and steady.