To Obey is Better (nipping your will in the bud)

People ask how we ended up here in southern Mexico after we had spent years working with another people group in northern Mexico. It has to do with God, obedience, and nipping our will in the bud.

But I have to go back to the beginning of our call to missions. That’s when the nipping began. So for you who haven’t heard this before, here begins my odyssey:

*  *  *

Are you the one?” asked the preacher, “…the one who didn’t want to go to Mexico at first but then went after God birthed a love in your heart for the people?”

Yes, that was me,” I confessed.

He remembered our being at his church twelve years earlier when I shared my story–one that women especially are curious about as it relates to being a wife and mother: the call of the missionary (not to be confused with The Call of the Wild, although some similarities may inadvertently be found between Buck’s cross cultural travels and those of some missionaries I know).

It was 1995 and we had been serving as lead pastors in a city on Lake Erie. Having recently purchased our first home, we were in for the long haul. We began making memories in that quaint little abode and anticipated many more to come.

Then came a day–that day–my husband said he felt God’s call to the mission field. “Would you pray?” he asked, “We really need to hear God clearly in this.”

Interesting how words like that feel like an invisible two by four knocking you off your feet, causing all kinds of thoughts to tumble out; thoughts of your kindergartener leaving his school after just starting, thoughts of your toddlers’ safety in another country; thoughts of the kids growing up without Grandpa and Grandma close by, thoughts of leaving the tiny home that is your nest and refuge, and so on.

Of course I would pray. Prayer, in part, is talking to God and boy did I do a lot of talking! I reminded God, who knows everything already, that we were quite happy where we were.

Why don’t you call someone who is miserable?” I asked Him. Surely He had a lengthy list of disgruntled ministers he could transplant. Picking one of them instead of us seemed like a reasonable option.

He was silent.

So I kept talking.  I told God every reason I could think of that this was not a good idea. I even tried to convince Him we could do more for missions by remaining where we were, as the church had begun to catch our passion for the Great Commission and by then was supporting more missionaries than in its recent (and perhaps entire) history.

It was a cause and effect discourse that went something like this: “Just think, God, if we stayed here and the church kept growing, how much more income could be budgeted to support yet more missionaries.”  It seemed like a sensible, logical plan to me.

He was silent.

Then I did what any desperate mom would do: I tried making deals with God. I’m not kidding. I promised Him an increase of our personal pledge to missions if he would pick someone else and let us stay. (And if you knew what my generous hubby had already faith-promised prior to that, you’d really think I was nuts).

I was beginning to grasp at straw solutions to this I-feel-God-calling-us announcement.

Until God spoke.

It wasn’t thunder, nor lightning. It was His leading in His Word, piercing a passage into my soul by the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit.

Tell me,” Samuel said. “Does the LORD really want sacrifices and offerings? No! He doesn’t want your sacrifices. He wants you to obey him. Rebelling against God or disobeying him because you are proud is just as bad as worshiping idols or asking them for advice. You refused to do what God told you, so God has decided that you can’t be king.

Without any shadow of a doubt God was speaking. To me.  Frankly, directly, strongly, yet lovingly. What pricked me most was the part that said, “…just as bad as worshiping idols…”. In another translation it reads, “…just like witchcraft…”

That knocked any further hint of back talk and worthless protest from me.

To obey is better than sacrifice.  There’s a series of messages in that statement alone! I’ll leave those be for now and simply say I yielded to God’s rebuke in that passage. I realized at that moment that to stay and pastor–which is a good thing that God calls many to do–would have been an act of disobedience on our part. We had to obey; we had to go.

I came out of that God moment ready for the next step. Scared, but ready. Filled with questions, but ready.

Where is He sending us? I began to wonder. Then, following speculation, in my mind I knew: Europe. It made perfect sense.

God was calling us to Europe!

Except we ended up in Mexico.

(Think God isn’t sovereign? Find out what happened when the story continues in an upcoming post.)

Scripture passage: I Samuel 15:22,23

Related link:

What Did I Get Myself Into?



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