Why is it, that when we need confirmation to buy some cool set of tools or an electronic device (guys) we feel lead (to be blessed) very swiftly, and then when the Lord would ask us to give something up, we would rather hide than hear his voice? (just sayin')
Any way, we heard his voice (loud and clear) and about 5 weeks later, we had distributed our personal belongings and whittled down all our personal items to 16 suitcases to travel South to Paraguay.
Each of the children had shrunk their toys/belongings down to a suitcase or less, Evi and I said goodbye to furniture and sentimental items that we had brought along for the ride from England to Israel, back to England and to the USA, and things that I had picked up from around the world during my 5.5 years at Global Ventures.
The cost was great, or was it? It rarely feels good to have to give up things that you love, or have grown used to, but is the cost really great? Or, is it just that we can have our eyes fixed on these temporary things so much that - they seem to be our life, they seem to define who we are?
The Bible says in Hebrews 12:1 that we are to set aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us that we may run the race with endurance, fixing our eyes upon Jesus...
I want Jesus (not things) to be my life and to define who I am, surely that is His rightful place since I dedicated my life to Him... Surely as a child of God, I should be primarily defined by him and who he is, rather than what I have or how I live...
And really when we look at it, what do we really have of worth? What will last when this earth is disposed of and the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1) becomes a reality? Only our saved loved ones and the souls of those that we will have reached with the glorious Gospel of Jesus! That is forever. That is of worth.
Obedience has brought many rewards however; a focus on spiritual things, an opportunity to walk by faith, an opportunity to rely on heaven, a forced fast from 'normal life' as defined by what we have known. It has put us in a place where we must walk with God daily (or fail). There is no 'Plan B', there is no 'other option'.
There is a peace, a deep peace knowing that in our obedience, no matter how painful on a material and emotional level, we have pleased the Father in heaven. We have taken steps where, I suppose, few have dared to walk! Have we begun a journey of losing ourselves, and truly finding God in a deeper way?
I'm not trying to tell you to give up everything you have and go to a far off land (audible sigh of relief - which proves the theory). But are we willing to obey? Or are we trying to keep our heads down (stay out of 'trouble') and just carry on? Jesus gave his all for you and me - should we just 'carry on'?
And you might say to us, "you're alright, you've already obeyed", but obedience is an ongoing process. Just because your dog listened to your voice one time, doesn't mean he is an obedient dog.
And I believe that obedience doesn't even begin until there is sacrifice. What I mean by that is, if we agree with what is being asked of us, is that obedience or are we just doing what we feel is best anyway? Does obedience really begin then when we do something we'd rather not do?
And like King David (2 Samuel 24:24)
"No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."
The Lord requires true sacrifice - not that which really costs us nothing (or very little).
We all say that we love Jesus! He told us to obey his commands, he said that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. In order to obey we must first receive instruction, we must be listening. We have general instructions in the Word of God, the Bible, and we should obey that, but we must be listening to the still and small voice of the Holy Spirit for his specific instructions. If we do not listen, how can we obey? If we don't go to, focus on and receive from the one who instructs, how can we be lead?
I encourage each one of you to be a listener. Don't take heed of what you have in this natural world, but listen to what the King of heaven would say to you - and obey! There is an incredible life on the other side of your obedience!
Peter & Evi Ratcliffe