Whenever you face a move, whether God is sending you 600 miles or 6,000 miles, there is a transition – an uprooting and replanting. As part of our home church’s most recent missions conference, they referred to it as ‘Breaking Camp’ and ‘Advancing’ based off of the Scriptural references in Deuteronomy 1.
The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”
Breaking Camp for our family came in March of 2013, but the steps God used to work in our hearts and minds, before that actual breaking and leaving, began several years before that.
Our family had valued missions. We already supported those who went and we often prayed that God would use our children one day to serve Him. However, as a true type A personality who likes to plan and know what’s coming next, I wasn’t expecting to hear a call for us to go. Between our pastor’s sermon series on the book of Matthew, my daily devotional, and even our kids’ homeschool curriculum, God was gradually pricking our hearts, and unbeknown to us, was preparing for us to be able to clearly see the need and to hear His call.
When it came, His call to me wasn’t a ‘go to such and such a people and spread the name of Jesus’, it was a ‘Will you follow me? Step out of your comfort zone, away from the trappings of this world and trust and follow me. Are you willing to give up your home? your comforts? your security in possessions?’
God was wanting to know if I was willing to obey and to come, follow Him.
And I knew that I wanted, and needed, to be in the center of His will.
Our family never envisioned that we would be able to assist with others receiving the Bible and hearing of Jesus in their own tongue, but once God showed us the need and how He could use the skills in software development He had given my husband, we knew we had to follow His lead. For we have the entirety of God’s Holy Word in our own language, but thousands of other language communities do not – not even a single verse. We knew that we had to take the next steps to ‘break camp’ and be willing to head wherever He wanted us to go – which, we later learned, was just to the east coast of our own country. =)
When we started pursuing Jesus on this journey into missions, we had three children
that I was homeschooling in grades Kindergarten through fourth, as well as an energetic preschooler, and a precious little guy who was just learning to walk. I was in the throes of motherhood and the thought of all that had to be done to join a missionary organization and prepare to leave was overwhelming. We didn’t know how we could add hours of training and partnership building to what already felt like crazy, busy days. On top of that, my husband had to be away for a full summer of linguistics training to take courses that would prepare him to better serve in his new role with Wycliffe and provide background for his work in writing software for Bible translation.
It was a challenging season, but God showed me two ways that we weren’t in this endeavor alone. First, He taught me how to distinguish between self reliance and strength in Christ. He reminded me that as I focus on Him and not on my own limitations or circumstances, God would supply the strength needed each day. For it is His strength that clothes my weaknesses. Christ’s presence and strength sustaining me created needed joy and a greater dependence upon Him! Secondly, He allowed us to see, first hand, the body of Christ work together as God sent friends and our small group family to come alongside us, allowing us to follow through with what God was telling us to do.
So, those were all the necessary preparations for us being able to ‘break camp’. And, then, after seventeen years of calling our church ‘home’, it came time to say goodbye. Stepping away from the excellent preaching of the Word, leaving our close friends and our small group, pulling our kids away from their own good friends, and even trusting God with our aging parents whom we were concerned about spiritually and physically … that final step of parting and driving away … was hard. There were lots of tears – from all of our family members.
It is now three and a half years later. Between developing mobile apps for sharing God’s Word through smartphones, working out technical issues for language translators, recruiting and sharing a vision with other IT professionals, and communicating with other Bible organizations and IT missionaries, I can see God using my husband to spread the Gospel …and it brings joy.
For me though, as a homeschooling mom of five, advancing hasn’t come as quickly or successfully and it looks a bit different. It’s hard to admit, but, it took me three years to stop looking back, to stop comparing churches and situations, to quit feeling unsettled and searching for ways I could be more involved in the mission, and to finally hear Jesus whisper to my anxious heart – EMBRACE.
I guess that is the beginning of my own journey into the ‘Advance’ part. I haven’t completely figured out what ‘embrace’ looks like yet, but Psalm 37:4-5 has helped greatly. It states,
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him and He will act.”
Delight. Commit. Trust.
Embracing seems to encompass those three things!
Delighting in the Lord makes me want to dwell and focus on His attributes – His sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy, and love. Committing gives me a visual of leaning in and not holding back. And trusting, well, it involves acknowledgement of His goodness and our dependence upon Him alone.
So, advancing for me right now is more about developing contentment as I try to delight, commit, and trust- embracing where God has placed our family, embracing the opportunities set before me to serve, encourage, and connect deeper in our new community, and embracing, with joy, the role and mission He has given me within our family – which never really changed –to lovingly support my husband in his role and to train, disciple, and equip the next generation.
As our Lord, Jesus has the authority to reveal the direction for our family and for our lives. He knows what is best, what is enough, and what our priorities should be. My responsibility is to obey Him and to keep following and trusting in Him.