Take the Risk
October 16, 2016
“Among the divisions of Reuben there were great resolves of heart. Why did you SIT among the sheepfolds, to hear the pipings for the flocks? The divisions of Reuben have great searchings of heart. Gilead STAYED beyond the Jordan, and why did Dan REMAIN on ships? Asher continued at the seashore and STAYED by his INLETS. Zebulun is a people who JEOPARDIZED their lives to the point of death. Naphtali also, on the HEIGHTS of the BATTLEFIELD” (Judges 5:15-18 NKJV).
“But in the tribe of Reuben there was great INDICISION. Why did you SIT at home among the sheepfolds—to hear shepherds whistle for their flocks? Yes, in the tribe of Reuben there was great INDICISION. Gilead REMAINED east of the Jordan. And why did Dan STAY HOME? Asher SAT UNMOVED at the seashore, REMAINING in his harbors. But Zebulun RISKED his life, as did Naphtali, on the heights of the BATTLEFIELD” (Judges 5:15-18 NLT).
This passage stirred me up. It was so appropriate for where I’m at and for what the Lord has been speaking to me lately. Israel had gone out to battle. Some tribes came out in support and fought alongside; others rejected the call to go and instead stayed where they were safe, comfortable, and at ease. I don’t want to reject His call. I don’t want to value comfort. Instead, I want to be made uncomfortable so that I can grow and be used.
I don’t want to be indecisive like Reuben, but rather so sure and confident of the Lord’s leading that I am willing to step out of the boat and onto the rocky waters, fixing my eyes on Jesus, looking not at the impossibilities but rather at the One who can do the impossible. I don’t want to be lulled to sleep by the pipings of the flock: the monotony of the mundane and routine. I don’t want to go through the motions, being ruled by schedule and familiarity. I want to be willing to move at any moment and go in the direction of the Holy Spirit’s leading. I want to be constantly on my toes, willing to go wherever He calls and ready to follow wherever He leads. “Awake oh sleeper!”
“Gideon stayed beyond the Jordan,” unwilling to cross over out of heir comfort zone and place of safety. It was easier to remain where they were. I don’t want to remain. I always want to press forward and not look back. Dan remained on ships, which means “at ease.” What powerful words. Complacency. Such a danger to our walk. I don’t want to be at ease. I want to always be running after Him. I never want to be at ease with where I’m at with the Lord. May I always long for more of Him. Asher remained in his harbors, in a place of safety. But Zebulun jeopardized their lives to the point of death and Naphtali also, on the heights of the battlefield. I want this to be my heart. I want to go. I want to give all that I am for the Lord and for the lost. I want to get on the battlefield and fight for souls. I don’t want to stand idle on the sidelines. I want to have the heart of Isaiah: “Here I am, Lord, send me!”
March 15, 2021
I wrote the above journal entry the week that Landon and Rachel asked me to pray about moving to Italy to serve with them on the mission field. The day they asked me, my heart leapt and immediately responded with “YES! I want to go.” It would be another three years before I boarded the plane bound for Italy. During those three years, I felt very divided; or rather, indecisive. I didn’t know what to do. I loved teaching math at Wooster. I was established in my job, in my ministry, in my home life, in my relationships. God was moving and doing great things in my life and I struggled with the decision of leaving all that behind. It didn’t make sense to me that God would be calling me away from an effective ministry to go start all over in a foreign country where the inability to speak the language would prevent me from engaging with people on a deeper level. I saw the impossibilities. I saw the limitations. I saw the risk. Worldly wisdom and logic said I was crazy to go (even though everyone in my life supported and encouraged the decision to move to Italy, I wasn’t convinced).
In the summer of 2018, I took my Joshua trip to scout out the land. I spent three weeks in Italy, and I loved every part of it. I fell in love with the people, the language, the culture, the ministry, the place, everything. And still, at the end of those 3 weeks, I was struggling with indecisiveness. The night before I left Italy to head back home, I picked up my journal and reread the entry I had written from Judges 5 on October 16, 2016 and was reminded that God had already confirmed His call for me to go. I had just forgotten. He had shown me three years earlier what He was calling me to. He had already put that desire in my heart, I just needed to be reminded of it. I landed the next day in Reno with the decision that I would be moving to Italy the following year.
I remember being picked up at the airport by my parents and telling them that I was pretty confident that the Lord was calling me to go to Italy and they responded with “we’ve known for quite some time, we were just waiting for you to figure it out.” My best friend had the same response. I’m grateful for the people that the Lord has put in my life. They allow the Lord to speak with me and exhibit such patience as I learn to listen and hear His voice. They constantly point me to Christ and encourage me to go all in. Surround yourself with people like that. People who love Jesus radically and spur you on to love Him in the same way.
God’s call on my life to leave my safe harbors, to leave what was comfortable, to resist the temptation to remain, meant packing up and heading to Italy. But I want to encourage you that this charge from the Lord goes behind our physical location or vocation; and even as I reread it, I’m challenged once again in my tendency to grow comfortable and complacent. It can be so easy to be lulled to sleep in our walk with the Lord. To remain in our comfort zone. To isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. To attend church once or twice a week and call it good. But God is calling us to a deeper life with Him; an abundant life. Be willing to take risks for the gospel. Be willing to step out of what’s comfortable and familiar in order to reach the lost. Get in the game. Step onto the battlefield. Be a part of the work that God is doing in the hearts and lives of the people He created, loves, and died to redeem. Don’t stay in your safe harbors. Step out and see what the Lord can and will do!