Submitted by Laura Jones
Five months ago, my husband and I took a huge leap of faith. We left our life in North Carolina and moved to the tiny town of Dunlap, TN with a dream to start a farm with some family property. We moved with no job lined up and planned on living in a century-old family house that was falling apart (literally).
Fast forward to now, my husband has secured a job and we are now residing comfortably in the house with a partial new foundation as well as countless other improvements. It has been purely a demonstration of the Lord’s faithfulness and provision that got us to where we are now.
Yet, I still feel like one of the Israelites grumbling about starving to death in the desert after God brought them out of Egypt with such a mighty show of His power.
We’ve cleared the first hurdles of getting here (which included selling our house in North Carolina in only five days) and getting Allen a job (which came from a contact he made 6 years ago while still in college) and seen God help us over those hurdles in amazing ways. But now we have what seems to me the biggest hurdle still to clear: starting what we hope will be a non-profit farm geared toward improving the lives of youth in our community as well as providing food for the poor.
So Allen and have been praying for clarity to come for this vision and how we think God wants us to use this place for His glory. This morning, I was doing my reading in a devotional book called “A Year with God” by Richard Foster and Julia Roller. In God’s good timing, I began the section on “Guidance.” So I read three entries. Here are some of the things I read:
“Obviously God must guide us in a way that will develop spontaneity in us. The development of character, rather than direction in this, that, and the other matter, must be the primary purpose of the Father. He will guide us, but he won’t override us…The parent must guide in such a manner, and to the degree, that autonomous character, capable of making right decision for itself, is produced. God does the same.” *
“Although there is nothing we can do to force a dream or a vision or God’s still small voice, one way in which we can open ourselves to God’s guidance is by studying the way those in the Bible have heard from God…’we must pray for the faith and for the experiences that would enable us to believe that such things could happen to us. Only then will we be able to recognize, accept, and dwell in them, when they come.’” *
From Jeremiah 1:4-8 about the call of the boy, Jeremiah:
“When the prophet speaks, in response to the call of God, his first word is a word of resistance. The one called for divine work immediately senses his limitations for that work. He tries to beg off, listing his inadequacies.” *
This is where I stand now, I think. I have scales on my eyes. I see only my inadequacies and not God’s abilities. When I think about the idea of running a non-profit farm, I think only of the ways in which I am not equipped or qualified to do it:
- I have no business skills, very few job skills even since I have been out of the workforce raising kids for almost 5 years
- I’ve never farmed anything larger than 300 ft2
- I have no idea how to run a non-profit
- People will think it’s crazy. It won’t be received well by the community
- Most of the youth around us are trying to get away from farming, not into it
- It’s going to be really hard and take a lot of work
“God tends, it would appear from stories of vocation in Scripture, almost always to call people who are too young, too timid (that’s me:-/), too old, or too immoral. The story is not about the singular virtues of the one being called. The story is about a risk-taking, bold sort of God who reaches in and calls people for divine service, giving them what they need for that service…God equips and stands behind those whom God calls. This is the sort of God who says, in effect, ‘I’m getting ready to change, revolutionize, renovate, and reorient the whole world-and guess who’s going to help me?’” *
So…let’s go for broke. If I continue to live “safely” and comfortably, living a life without risk, at the end of my life, people will say, “She was a good girl. She was involved in church. She was nice to people.” If I continue to live without risk, then I’m living in my own power, not in God’s power. And what does that teach my children? Does it teach them that God is able to do what we ask in His name? Or does it teach them to live without risk because we’re on our own and we have no God who fights our battles for us?
But if we take this big risk, believing that God can and will do something great for His name’s sake, even through someone as afraid and unqualified as me, then I will have made room for God to show Himself great and glorious. Then, at the end of my life people will say “She had faith that God was bigger than she was. She walked in obedience to her calling. Her life showed that God was powerful and merciful in using even the most unqualified. Her life showed that it is not in man’s power, but in God’s power that we do anything.” And this will teach my children that things that are impossible with man are possible with God (Mt. 19:26, Mark 10:27 Luke 18:27). And at the end of my life, I will hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Mt. 25:21, Luke 19:17).
So I want to live big because God is big. I want to take a risk, step out of my comfort zone, and expect that God can overcome my inadequacies, overcome the obstacles and opposition we might face and show Himself great and glorious. I want to take a risk and see what He will do in my life and the lives of others for His name’s sake. I want to show my children that when we are obedient to God’s calling, whatever the cost (be it hardship, opposition from friends or family, or merely giving up a life of ease and comfort), God is faithful and He will equip us and walk with us through the hardship and He will be our reward for a life well lived.
“Father God, you who call the last people anyone would expect, here I am. As underqualified as I feel to do anything for your world, help me to do the work for which I was created. Give me the courage to hear and answer your call. Speak, for your servant is listening.” *
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
*Excerpts taken from A Year With God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines by Richard J. Foster and Julia L. Roller © 2009 by Renovaré, Inc. p. 146-148