Have you ever noticed that life rarely goes as planned? 34 years ago I married a man who was graduating with a degree in business. My plan was to live the life of a successful businessman's wife, which meant security and provision. Shortly after marriage my husband informed me, to my surprise and dismay, that he felt called to seminary and then to inner-city ministry. We never saw the business light of day.
I should have known.
My father-in-law called me to his office the week of my wedding. I guess he felt it was his duty to shed light on a particular aspect of his son, so that, of course, I would know what I was getting myself into. Basically, he wanted to inform me that David had the propensity to grow tired of things and had a penchant for change. I have thought back to that moment, and my naive 19 year-old-self, many times over the past 34 years. Once we reached 18 cars in 11 years of marriage, I began to understand my father-in-law's point.
My natural inclination is to rarely see need for change. I always liked the ole' adage, "Don't rock the boat." It didn't take me long to realize I married a man with the passion and vision that rivaled the likes of Moses, Joseph and Paul, which meant the boat would certainly be rocked. I distinctly remember the moment when I finally decided to surrender to the life the Lord had called us to. I had to relinquish my worldly idea of security and provision, and as scared as I was, decide to trust God. I must say that in the long run surrender is far easier, and more enjoyable, than resistance.
Fifteen years ago we took a leap of faith and launched Answering the Call, with little money and a lot of vision. Little did we know that God would add, rearrange, shift, and reshape our vision. I remember when David told me part of his vision for Answering the Call was to build a center where people working in difficult places would come for training in order to return to their homeland stronger and more equipped. He was confident this was what God was calling us to do. I remember thinking, "Ok, sure, maybe in 15 years we will do that." Four months later we were doing that. I was like, "You have got to be kidding God!" God wasn't kidding. I kept screaming, "I am not the visionary! I can't do this! This is bigger than us! This isn't practical!" I could only see the why's and how's of why it would not work.
The vision was too big.
We were too small.
The world was too complicated.
Life was too hard.
In the beginning, I thought about Noah's wife quite a bit. What did she think when Noah told her that God wanted him to build a huge boat that would carry them as they floated on a sea of water? Oh, and let's not forget two of every type of animal would be boarding with them. And, then there is the 120 years that it would take to build. I mean, let's get real. The idea of building an ark when they had never seen rain was a little crazy. The time, the energy, the resources, the opinions, the mockery—what wife wants to go along with that?
I want to meet Noah's wife one day. I want to ask her, "Were you tempted to give up? Did you think your husband was crazy? Did you care about what all the people were thinking? Did you believe God would really bring the animals, two by two, male and female to board a boat? Were the animals stubborn or cooperative? Was it chaotic? Or was it clean and orderly like we church people like it?"
If God had given into my whining, my need to see the whole picture ahead of time, and an assurance that it would work out perfectly, I would have missed out on the great adventure of coming to know God through faith. I have learned that God values and honors faith over perfection and performance. He will take our small measure of faith and build something no eye has seen and no mind has imagined.
Since our beginning we have seen many changes. We have celebrated marriages; cried at funerals; seen friends in ministry move on to other things; watched kids grow up; suffered the impact of our country's economic collapse; lamented upon our mistakes; rejoiced in God-sized-miracles; met amazing heroes of faith around the world; built orphanages and schools; fed the hungry; gritted our teeth as we bore up under the pressure of ministry; laughed with wonderful people whom God brought along our path, and reveled at the God who seems to never give up on us and is faithful to the end.
My final question for Noah's wife will be, "What did you feel when all the animals showed up and when the rains came and went?" She will only be able to answer this question because she took the risk and walked in powerful faith.
It has been a privilege and a great blessing to serve people in extremely difficult situations. Thank you for the part you have played in our ministry around the world. Whether you have given financially, prayed for us, gone with us, worked with us, served on our board, or loved us—we give a huge shout out and a big Thank You! You have participated in the mission of Jesus. Now, let's go for another fifteen.