Don’t Send Me to
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rom. 12:2 NIV
In the mid nineties, Christian singer/songwriter Scott Wesley Brown recorded a song, Please Don’t Send Me to Africa, which poked fun at a stereotypical fear many Christians harbor. The thought of moving half way around the globe to be a missionary (let alone going next door to witness to a neighbor) is terrifying. At times Christians, myself included, shy away from really wanting to know God’s will because of a belief that we will not like it. God’s will is equated with “suffering for Jesus”. Being uncomfortable, inconvenienced and put out are not high on the list of our life’s priorities. Scriptures such as, Isaiah 55:8 NIV, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.” can take on an ominous tone. This is reinforced with that old Christian cliché “you just never know what God is going to do!” pronounced in a somber, foreboding voice. Have we inadvertently painted a picture of God as a capricious trickster who just loves pulling the rug out from under His children with crazy schemes to shake up their lives? Perhaps.
In his song, Brown tells God all the things his willing to do to avoid being sentenced to
tithe 11% (he must be desperate, most Christians don’t give 10%), volunteer for
the nursery, chaperone a youth retreat and go door-to-door. In full panic mode,
Brown offers to do what he should already being doing in order to escape
foreign service. He admits to God that his life is just too comfy in middle
class suburbia; he wants to stay put. Living in the U.S.
though not perfect, has a measure of predictability that offers comfort and
security with a sense of control. Willingness to step out into the great
unknown of God’s will and all it entails is best left to the Peter’s of
Christianity. The rest of us will stay in the boat and hang on for dear life
until we reach the shore.
Romans 12:2 gives insight into finding God’s will and what its defining characteristics are. First, we will not find God’s will using an un-renewed mind. That said, God does not expect us to abandon the critical thinking skills He blessed us with. He wants our natural reasoning and logic exposed to and trained by His Word in order for us to tap into His plans and thought processes; otherwise they are incompatible. The more our minds are renewed to God’s methods of operation, the easier it becomes to know and do His will. It is true that sometimes God’s plans are “outside the box” and beyond the limits of our comfort zone; not even a blip on our radar. He can change us if we will trust Him to do a makeover. Let me share a personal example.
For anyone who does not know, my husband and I spent three years in
working with the Assemblies of God school nutrition program. Neither of us had
any desire to live or work overseas, let alone in Haiti.
Like Scott Wesley Brown, we were happy supporting the troops on the foreign
fields from the comfort of our stateside residence. Our church became involved
with an independent mission organization in Haiti.
We contributed to the effort by sending money, supplies and monthly support to
educate a young Haitian girl. When the church announced a mission trip for a
construction crew we were ready to assist, with both feet firmly planted on U.S.
soil. Unknown to us, God had other plans. To make a very long story short, God
not only changed our hearts about the trip, He miraculously provided all the
finances to cover the expenses. He made two people, who viewed Haiti
as a “nice (relatively speaking) place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live
there” open to return for another short visit, and then move there permanently.
He accomplished that without any kicking and screaming on our parts. How? Our
minds were renewed.
When we were at least willing to entertain the thought that perhaps this just might be something He planned for us, He had permission to mess with our thinking, and He did. This did not happen over night. Within eighteen months we sold our home and most of our possessions and moved to the
Caribbean. We were excited,
completely on board with God’s plans, truly a divine reversal. For us, His will
was better than good, pleasing and perfect, it was awesome. Was living in Haiti
a three year extended vacation in the sun? Not hardly. That said, I would not
trade those years for anything; it was the adventure of a life time.
Second, God’s will is always good, pleasing and perfect when viewed through the lens of a renewed mind (often from the perspective of hindsight). Jeremiah 29:11 NIV assures us, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Our thinking and reasoning must be totally transformed in order to grasp this. God’s will does not always entail a radical relocation to another area. More often it involves changes to small habitual aspects of our lives and personalities. These are sacred cows that die hard. Romans 12:1 NIV instructs us to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices”. The problem with living sacrifices – they won’t stay on the altar! When we try to “wrap our heads” around God’s ways using our natural minds we get spiritual migraines. We complain to God. What He is asking us to do does not make sense. This is correct; but it does take and make faith. Faith is what pleases God; it is His “modus operandi.”
Third, speaking only for myself, deep down inside I do not like being told what to do. I enjoy having my own way. I would prefer to lay out my agenda before God for His approval, blessing and funding. I would like Him to open and close the right doors, make the path smooth and keep the process as easy and fun filled as possible. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try to convince Him to do things my way; He has a mind of His own and prefers His plans over mine. If I want to be onboard with His design for my life, I am the one who must change. My mind must be renewed. I have found that just being willing to consider options other than my own, allows God to start the transformation process. He will use His Word to show me new facets of Himself and how He operates. He will bring the right people into my life through media and personal encounters. He will guide me to the place where His desires are now my desires. These He will gladly grant. I have experienced this process personally, that is how He got me to
For anyone who wants to hear the song, here is the link.