You know how when you’re first married, you’re still finding out things about each other? One night, early on in our marriage, the subject of missions came up and I said to John, “I need to confess something to you…you know that whole ‘gift of missions’ thing?… Well, I don’t have it.” He wiped his brow and let out a big, “Whew! What a relief! Me, either!” and we rejoiced that God had known just what He was doing when He put us together. “It just isn’t our calling”, we’d say.
Two committed Christians…with not an inkling of desire toward missions.
It was a miracle!
(Well, maybe not quite as big as some miracles, but still, it was pretty cool.)
Our “miracle” came to a screeching halt last summer when we stumbled upon the book Radical…Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt. Platt said that it’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said His followers would actually live, and what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, Jesus said, leave behind money, security and convenience for Him. They would abandon everything for the gospel.
“But who do you know who really lives like that?”, asks Platt. We knew we didn’t.
Every page drew us in like a magnet, but with a personal “ouch” as we realized how far our lives were from the New Testament Christians described in the Bible. I’ve known and loved the Lord since the age of nine. I’ve even worked in a church full time. My husband was and is a committed Bible teacher. Most everyone I knew was a Christian.
The literally billions in need of the gospel seemed far away…so far away that my thoughts were consumed not with them, but with (and this is not easy to say) wanting my house and yard to look good when all my Christian friends came over for Bible study.
It was through Radical that God said two resounding words…”Wake up.” Wake up and realize that there are real battles to be fought. God was preparing us for what was to come. He began to plant the thought in us that there had to be more to Christianity than the American Dream. The book called us to wake up to the real battles for the souls of the countless multitudes who are currently destined for an eternity without Christ.
We went on our first mission trip to Panama, then some months later, Africa, seeing God do things only He could do, drawing hearts to Himself. We saw a baby miraculously healed overnight after fervent prayer that God remove from her a deadly illness.
We saw dozens of people give their hearts to Christ in Panama, then just over a hundred in Africa. We saw self-less, grateful attitudes among Panamanian and Ugandan Christians who had absolutely nothing. We saw people hungry enough for the Word to read by flashlight at night.And in the process, something shifted in us that cannot, will not shift back.
Have you had a “wake up” call from God before? Or has Radical affected your life? I’d love to know how He’s worked in your life. Drop me a line and tell me about your “wake up call”… and what happened next!