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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

How the Lord continues to teach me

I gave my testimony at MOPS yesterday. And I thought I’d post the transcript. It does recount some of our story, from my perspective.

When I was preparing for this talk, I just started thinking about what the Lord has been teaching me over the past few years and has really been hammering away at me in the last year.

HE’S TEACHING ME ABOUT : Surrendering rights, Giving up control, Putting to death fear and anxiety that so entangles and robs joy

HE’S TEACHING ME TO : Trust Him fully, Accept His unconditional love and overwhelming grace, Lean in on Him when it’s hard & To give thanks in all circumstances.

Some of these things I am further along in than others. Some I am just starting to be able to do. None of it can I do on my own, without His help.

I know about control. I know about scheduling. I know about starting early to get where we need to be on time. I’m very type A. Until just recently, I had never been late for anything in my life. And believe me, I do not tell you this to brag. I tell you this because I am a sinful controlling person by nature and I make my neat orderly life into a god and my control of situations and how it looks to others into a god and I worship them. I don’t submit well, not without first weighing all pros and cons and doing an analysis of the situation.

My story starts, however, being raised by my single mother. My mom expected us to be in church each week and in youth group each week and I’m so very glad she did because it was through youth group that the Lord spoke to me and saved me my sophomore/junior year of high school. God gave me the wisdom during my senior year of High School to seek out a Christian college to attend after High School. I was just a baby believer at that point, but I felt very convicted that if this was going to be a real commitment, and if I was going to grow in my faith, I needed to be nurtured and discipled by Christian teachers and peers. And my years at Geneva did just that. Geneva grew my faith up by leaps and bounds. It was in my senior year at Geneva that I began dating Dan. And I had never met a man so in love with the Lord and walking with Him, and I was enthralled. It was on one of our first dates that he told me that if we were to get married someday, he wanted me to know we would probably be missionaries in Africa. And I just thought it was so cute. He wanted to “save the world” but surely we were not going to be missionaries in Africa. We were married in 2004.

We’ve been married for 7 years and we have 3 children. Ethan just turned 4 in October, Nate is 2.5 and Evelyn is 7months. This is my fifth year in MOPS and my second year in the position I’m in as administrative coordinator. And this is likely my last year in MOPS because in July of 2012, we will be moving to Africa. We’re moving to Kenya, specifically, to be missionaries and to minister to missionaries.

So how did that happen? How did I go from being logical and orderly and in control and on top of things to moving across an ocean to a country I’ve never been to with my three small children, likely selling our home, some of our stuff, and leaving convenience and comfort and things I know ? The Lord. That only happens through Him. The Sovereign God of the Universe, the same one that created life, that spoke it into existence and called me to Himself when I was in High School has given me, has given us a task. He’s told us to go, He’s made it abundantly clear and He’s asking me to obey, to trust Him.

What happened practically between 2004 and 2011? The Lord laid missions on my husband’s heart long ago, but Dan never pushed or prodded or even brought it up during our marriage. What happened was God caused us both to stumble on His purposes for the whole world over and over again early in our marriage. For 3 or 4 years of marriage, we were being bombarded with cross-cultural/overseas missions. We were in a Bible Study on God’s Global purposes. A few times we were visiting my husband’s family and they had missionaries speaking at their church that Sunday. And to take that a step further, my husband is a high school teacher and we would hear about the need for teachers for missionary children. Wycliffe Bible Translators had an ad for teachers for missionary children. Not just once, but multiple times over the course of a year. It was evident that we were being confronted by this more and more and the Lord was really softening my heart.

Recognizing that the Lord was doing something here in causing us to bump into this need at every turn, my husband and I began praying seriously about our role in missions work in the summer 2009, with the understanding that every believer plays a role in carrying out the gospel of Christ. Where do we fit? We prayed for clarity in the answer - that God would make it abundantly clear to us where He wants us right now. At the time, my heart was simply not ready for this. As far as I was concerned, my husband was in a mission field teaching in a public school (and he is). Certainly we need strong Christian men teaching in our public schools, but we simply could not get away from the fact that God was placing cross-cultural, overseas ministry in our laps. So we sought His direction.

It was shortly thereafter that I got a phone call that would change everything. In early October, the chair of our International Missions Committee called, asking if I would be willing to pray about going to Africa to teach missionary children, from May 18th to June 3rd – 17days. And he asked for ME. He didn’t ask for my husband. What you have to understand about this - this is October of 2009. I have an ALMOST 2 year old and a 6 month old. People don’t call that woman to go to Africa for 17 days. This goes against every logical, controlled, orderly, the-way-things-are-supposed-to-go thought. But Yet I got off the phone KNOWING with absolute certainty WHO was calling me to this and that I had to say yes. It was the VERY thing we were praying about.

In Luke 1, the Angel of the Lord appears to Mary and tells her of her role in the birth of our Lord. That she is going to carry Immanuel and give birth to him. And there are potentially consequences to this since she is still a virgin & engaged to be married. This does not make sense. And Mary’s response in verse 38 is to say “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be as you have told me.” Talk about surrender to the Lord’s Will and Purposes.

And I’d like to tell you that just like Mary, that night on the phone I said “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be as you have said.” But I didn’t. I wavered. I tried to muddy up that clarity and say “this doesn’t make sense. It isn’t logical. It isn’t my desire” But the Lord was asking me to lay down my control, to lay down my logic, and to lay down my comfort. To give it up to Him. To trust that He is calling me to something far greater than I can do myself. He is calling these shots and He will take care of all that needs taking care of … including my children.

And what happened between that October 2009 phone call and my departure for Africa in May 2010 was a complete shift in my thinking. A complete heart change. I had to say here am I Lord. It doesn’t make sense to me and I’m not comfy, but I surrender. I’ll obey. The Lord met me where I was, trying to be obedient but doing so kicking-and-screaming, and he transformed my heart and put a desire there to be SENT and to GO in whatever capacity.

Because the reality is my life is already His. I don’t own it. I should be responding to Him in unhesitating obedience. “Anything you want, Lord.”

So now I’m excited about going to Africa in a long-term capacity. I can’t believe that I am standing up here saying that. I’m excited about how the Lord will be able to work through us there.

That is not to say I’ve arrived at giving up control or surrendering my rights, I find that I still want control of every little detail of the planning. We are currently in the throes of support raising and I would like to have control of that. We have a million and one decisions to make before we go and I’d like to control those, to know the outcome. I’d like to know and control the health and safety of my kids while we are there and I can begin to stress out and worry about it.

But I’m learning that worry and fear are nothing more than a lack of trust in Him and a prideful elevation of myself.

So whether its in my parenting, my marriage, or moving overseas, The Lord is still having to work on me. To remind me to trust him with every aspect of my life – my relationships, my children, to lay all of that at His feet because He is good and His promises are true and He is in control and He will lead me.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome story, courtney! Thank you for sharing. it's inspiring! :)

    ReplyDelete

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