Let me boil that verse down for you through my personal life experience; it is all about relationship. Genuine relationship with God the Father through his son, Jesus Christ. There are now only three categories in my life:
1) Things I can do, or even want to do
2) Things I don't want to do
3) Things I am afraid to do
There is no thing I cannot do. Why? Because I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. When I am afraid to do something, I am each time amazed at the grace of God which helps me accomplish what I need to accomplish. Much more efficiently than if I had tried on my own, in fact; I would fail on my own.
2014 has been a full year for our family; and we are only half way done. We have had so many opportunities to challenge ourselves, and our children have risen to the occasion and impressed me each step of the way. The strength and resolve of my husband has encouraged me. The grace of God has astounded me.
With that said, becoming a pioneer missionary family is not an easy road. And let me just blow the Pixie Dust off your idea of pioneer missions work right now. Cause it ain't there but 10% of the time. The other 90% of the time is hard work.
My husband and I have forever had a "calling" (common Christian-ese) to do missions work. In other words, we felt we were created for something more. As in: more than living for ourselves, working a
9-5and saving up to take vacations at Disney Land. I think many people in my generation are in this same boat; which is why the men, women and families of my generation are happy to pay a little more for products that support organizations which pay it forward like TOMS. Or who are willing to sacrifice their finances to give generously to organizations improving the impoverished lives of others through efforts like Portal, or supporting missionary families just like us. This list of Good Samaritan works literally goes on and on, and I believe there is a paradigm shift of awareness within our culture to reach beyond ourselves and help those around us. It doesn't always have to be exotic and on foreign soil, sometimes it's your neighbor across the street or your child's 3rd grade teacher. But for my family, it is third world.
When my husband and I were toiling over the decision to move our family into a third world culture, our Pastor told us something very encouraging. He said, "God will not call you and your husband, and then exclude your children from that calling". Duh. Sounds basic. But it really made the light bulb come on for both my husband and myself. My biggest concern and fear was my children. It was a process to surrender them to Christ. It sounds quaint and noble, but it is very hard to put that into action. Action meant moving them to a country that I wouldn't, under normal circumstances, even choose to take a family-style trip to for one week. It meant combating each fear and "what if" scenario which is utterly exhausting for a mother UNTIL ..... I started "taking all my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ".
2 Corinthians 10:5
Which leads me to Point One: It is essential that you are certain of your calling. That you are 100% sure of your decision. Because when the "what ifs" turn into a reality, the only thing you have is God. The only way that you will make it is by God's grace. Let me clarify, I don't want to paint some horrible picture of missions. I want to paint an accurate one. I don't mean that all missionaries are in a constant state of danger and lack of basic necessities. God's grace is sufficient; meaning enough or adequate (2 Cor 12:9). This is the 90% of the time that I referred to earlier. When you see missionaries, or read their newsletters, you are getting the glamorous 10% of their lives, which only happens because of the grace of God getting them through the 90%.
Ready for Point Two: It is not necessary to sacrifice yourself or your family in the name of missions, or ministry for that matter. That isn't serving, that's stupid. I am who I am. I am Alicia. God created me to love the things I love, to possess talents in specific areas. The reason I can do what God has called me to do is because of WHO I AM. He made me the way I am for a reason. It's ok to be yourself. It's ok to not fit inside the Christian ideology of what a missionary "should be". That is the religious mindset for the missions of yesterday. The missions of today operate in agape love which is only possible through genuine relationship with God.
Point two leads me directly into Point Three: Genuine relationship with God. It is imperative that you remain in constant communication with God via the Holy Spirit. Don't let religion or your pre-conceived notions or what other people think affect how you operate as a missionary. It only matters what God says. If He says it, then obey. If He doesn't say it to you, then maybe it's not necessary, maybe it's an unnecessary external pressure. However; let me be clear that it is not enough to just obey and go on unaware. You must obey and then keep listening to ensure that you are ready to hear His voice again, to follow His direction for your family. A perfect biblical example of this is the classic story of Abraham and Isaac. In Genesis 22:2, the Bible says God told Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Then in verse 12, when Isaac is on the altar and Abraham has reached for his knife, Abraham hears from heaven "Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him". What if Abraham hadn't been listening? What if he had obeyed God's first instruction but not been in communication with God to hear God's second instruction?
I hope this information helps families who are contemplating pioneer missions make an informed decision. Obviously, it's just one woman's view but I am WHO I AM. Amen?!
We appreciate your prayers.
They get us through the 90%, and I mean it.
Thank you for praying.