The flight attendant asked if I could pass the “rubbish” that had accumulated in the seat next to me. As I dropped it in the plastic bag she was holding she said it: “Smashing!”
“Can you say that again?” I asked.
“Say what?” she asked, “Smashing?”
Yeah that was it. I knew she thought I was quite humorous but we were on approach to London and her “smashing” was like a cold-water wakeup call. “We are actually arriving in the UK,” I thought.
My reaction was quite different 10 years ago when we were moving to Costa Rica to begin language school. As were were landing then I asked Michelle if we could go home. “We have no home to go to,” she replied. She was right. We’d divested ourselves of what we had to follow God’s leading. Here we were on approach 10 years and six months later – this time with a daughter. I’ve been looking forward to this day for months.
When we were asked nearly a year ago to consider the position we’ve accepted, I knew right away that God was working. We were initially given 7-10 days to make a decision. I knew that would shock Michelle, but at the same time we both knew this was a no-brainer. God’s leading was obvious, but the decision to radically change our lives still required us to do some serious soul searching. We had what we called the Golden Triangle between a church we loved, a school in which our daughter thrived and a great house with great neighbors. We were struggling with the decision because we didn’t want to disrupt a great groove. However, one day I sensed God was using the paraphrased words of theologian Abraham Kuyper to both reprimand and challenge me: “Do you think you can care better for your daughter where you are than I can in any square inch of my universe?”
Of course the answer was no, I couldn’t, and here are three things God revealed to me in the process of deciding to lead my family overseas.
1. We really have very little control over our lives. There is no way to control the external factors of one’s life: job loss, death of a close family member, the way people treat you – and when we presume we can control those circumstances we are presuming heavily on the sovereignty of God (James 4:13-15). The only reasonable response we should offer is to throw ourselves on the goodness of God promised to us through the grace of the Gospel and in faith allow God to pull us forward in the certainty of His sovereign will.
2. God’s will really isn’t that much of a mystery. Too many people get hung up in wet and dry fleeces (see Gideon) and looking for ways to divine God’s will. If we’d take time to put God at the center of His story instead of ourselves at the center of the story we’ll see that there is already a vast amount of God’s will that is known. Here it is: It is His will that He be glorified among the nations and that we are the one’s making His name known among all people. I would list verses to support this but read the Bible from this perspective and you’ll find the entire Book points this direction. Frankly, if a person is pursuing God and not doing anything immoral or unethical I believe it is impossible to miss His will (See Proverbs 16:33; Psalm 37:23-24; Isaiah 46:9-10). (If you are struggling with this issue or what I’ve written, I HIGHLY recommend buying and reading the little book, “Just Do Something“, by Kevin DeYoung).
But let’s say it is impossible to miss God’s will while seeking God with selfless motives. Is it such a bad thing to miss in the direction of taking the Gospel to neighbors and the nations?
3. Finally, as the sage members of .38 Special sang back in the 80’s…”Hold on loosely.” The transience of this world fell heavy on me during this process. When I realized I really couldn’t pick a spot in which I’d prefer to be buried, I finally understood the meaning of the word “sojourner” and the truth of 1 Peter 2:10-11. We as Christians often talk about this world not being our home but our lives speak differently. When we hold on too firmly to this world we are robbing ourselves of opportunities to move forward in faith to things not yet seen. God calls us to hold on loosely.
Finally, I don’t want to end this with my family or me as the focus of this post. The point of this entire life transition is to make sure that Christ is the focal point. Read Romans 3:21-26, 5:8-9, 8:32, Ephesians 2:1-5, Colossians 1:11-14, 1 Corinthians 1:31 and you’ll understand why it is the JOY of the Christian to follow the Savior in obedience regardless of geographic location.
The experience is simply smashing!