The other day I spoke with a mentor and shared some of our recent experiences. I remember he said, “Wow. It’s like you guys have had the rug pulled out from under you.” I remember feeling really affirmed by his reaction.
In many ways, we have been off balance this summer. With our imbalance, Satan has been attempting to exasperate us with a subtle lie. He wants Julie and I to believe is that we can only minister with a certain set of variables in place. He wants us to believe we can only minister with with equilibrium.
We tell our supporters that our ministry vision is to see the lost of Spain come to Jesus through a newly inspired local church and effectively trained leadership. If we aren’t careful, we can believe that a few variables must be in place for this vision to become reality. For starters, we have thought that living in Spain would essential. We also have envisioned enough stability in our living situation in order to get to know neighbors. Good health would also be nice too, right? Additionally, in order to train leaders for the future, we have planned that I (Chad) could prepare and teach at a Bible School.
Though these variables would certainly be nice, God’s providential plan has been different. The last 12 weeks we haven’t lived in Spain because of my mom’s cancer and our international travel to adopt Eric. All summer long, we haven’t been in one place for more than a few weeks. Consequently, we definitely have not run into our Spanish neighbors. Instead, we’ve spent time with people from Greenfield MO, Maseru Lesotho, Johannesburg South Africa, and Chicago. These relationships have been temporary and have seemed random. And when we flew to Madrid, Eric’s almost immediate hospitalization meant we saw Spanish doctors and nurses instead of Spanish neighbors. When Eric recovered and we did finally “arrive” in Madrid, I looked up my Bible School’s class schedule to learn that there was not interest in the classes I planned to teach.
But are these really the necessary variables for ministering in Spain? No. Did any of these twists and turns ruin our chances to love other people? No. Life has been off balance, but God is always working for his purposes and his good. He has been teaching us faith and growing us exactly as we need to grow. He has even given us chances to minister with lives off balance.
I was encouraged in my devotions this week by Hebrews 11:24-26:
“11:24 By faith, when he grew up, Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 11:25 choosing rather to be ill-treated with the people of God than to enjoy sin’s fleeting pleasure. 11:26 He regarded abuse suffered for Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for his eyes were fixed on the reward.”
I find it so encouraging that Moses chose to be ill-treated and receive abuse for God’s greater purposes. Why? We are learning that missions life IS life off balance. If you choose missions, you can try and write a vision statement, but you ultimately choose to be off balance. In missions, the rug more often thrust out from under you than it is actually under you! Whether we like it or not, we have actually chosen instability and chaos.
Thankfully we don’t have to feel crazy or alone. Moses chose 40 years of instability and chaos with the people of Israel. He willfully rejected a calm and peaceful life in Egypt. But along the way, he witnessed one of the greatest redemptive acts of God unfold before his eyes (Heb 11:28-29). God worked in Moses the faith decision to live off balance, and Moses eventually watched God redeem for himself a people.
So, by faith, we pray that we can minister to Spaniards, but God may choose that we share our faith with a woman in Lesotho or a homeless kid in Chicago. We may choose to live in a place where we have no consistent housing, but maybe God will use our honesty and perseverance to point someone to Jesus. We may not have students in Bible School, but we may find mentor relationships elsewhere. We now know that we have the incredible privilege of discipling at least three little boys!
We may be off balance, but God is here and he is at work. What if God is planning to redeem for himself a people through our own little, off balance, wilderness wandering?