Wednesday, June 5, 2013

If It Weren't For God, I'd Be Doing Missions

Most of you know that both Casey and I went to Ozark to be trained as missionaries. We both have degrees in missions and intercultural studies. We love the nations. We firmly believe in Jesus' last recorded command on earth, found in Acts 1:7-8. Yet, even though we are debt free, we are not on the field. Not only that but we're not support raising or even currently in talks with churches or missions organizations to go. So, what happened? Let's start with an illustration...

On multi-gear bicycles, there is what's called a derailleur. It's primary purpose is to respond to the shifting mechanisms to change the gears so you can change the difficulty of the ride. When it's fully functioning, the change from one gear to the next is smooth and almost unnoticeable. When it's not in tip top shape, you will definitely start noticing a difference. Sometimes, you will try to shift, and it will not budge. Conversely, you will move into another gear, and it jumps to a completely different gear. If you are not prepared for this, it can cause you to lurch, or even to crash, depending on the severity. 

Likewise, sometimes the derailleur of life does not seem to be fully functioning. You're cruising along, even picking up speed as you head toward graduation. You're in an internship, which you'll finish a few months after crossing the stage. You've been talking with KontaktMission or NMSI about post-graduation plans. Things are getting exciting as you go to shift into high gear, and then it happens. Not only does your chain skip that gear, it goes all the way off the assembly, catches, and brings you to a halt. You get a phone call in the middle of the night asking you to adopt. (Or you get a call from a huge supporting church to tell you they're pulling out. get the picture.)

For me, that phone call elicited a few internal responses. Among them, anger, fear, and confusion. What about graduating? How will we afford being parents? What if I am a terrible parent? The questions went on an on and finally, What about missions? As many of you know, a few years ago I dealt pretty badly with rejection from another attempt to prepare for the field. I knew who I was much better than I did then. My faith and being was not shaken. However, I still had the questions. This adoption, would it completely derail our missions future, either temporarily or permanently? Would we be able to continue our internship? There were many other questions, but here are the answers I know:

No, we would not be able to continue our internship. Finishing school, beginning to adopt/be parents, and doing an internship all while working full time were nigh impossible. Yes, our missions future would be derailed temporarily. The answer I don't know yet, and the one my heart still longs to know the answer, is whether or not we are no longer bound for the field in the future. You could definitely say the derailleur of our life was malfunctioning. 

I, however, have come to terms with this situation. Just as I came to terms with the rejection a few years ago. In a way, I feel like Job. I have come to realize that I have no right to question God's reasoning in the direction He sends us. I, perhaps errently, have come to believe that this was His plan all along. After all, He is the Father to the fatherless, and I have become a father to a fatherless. Not only that, but I am at a job where we are being well provided for. (I fully disagree with the prosperity "gospel", but at the same time understand it is my duty to provide for my family.) Excellent starting pay, great insurance benefits, and even tuition assistance. 

That last point again makes me think this is God's doing. Just yesterday I began my first Spanish class. So far, I know this: Hola, Buenos Dias. Soy Karl Mitchell! Y Usted? Ah, mucho gusto! Encantado. Don't expect me to be making much conversation anytime soon. However, as we are living back in Albuquerque, free Spanish classes (which, eventually will allow me to take calls in Spanish) is an amazing way to open up more ministry opportunities. This is especially true considering the quandrant of the city in which we live. Where I grew up, on the other side of the city, it was predominantly non-Hispanic. On this side we are definitely the minority. Therefore, Spanish seems apropos to finally learn. 

Perhaps for the time being our global outreach is on hold. However, God may be trying to teach us a thing or two where we are, if only we open our hearts. Are you open to what God is doing in your life? Are you ready to be used, wherever you are? I hope so.

Grace and peace, mi Amigos.


Debbie Mitchell said...

That is a very good post, Son. It shows a sign of maturity that you're willing to step back and let God be the director - even if you don't totally understand it.

Love you,

Karl said...

Thank you mom!

jeff youngblood said...

First, I want to commend you for your openness to letting God direct things, and willingness to sit at His feet and learn. I feel that I want to share a lot from my life because it may be encouraging for you. But, I want to add a disclaimer: There is no one way, or even a right way we all must do things. We each have a different journey which we must work out with God, like our salvation. I think my testimony may be helpful though. And I hope it doesn't sound preachy, because I don't intend it.

As you know, I have been in Latvia as a missionary now for about 6 months. It wasn't my original plan. At the time I was waiting to marry my Latvian wife, I was praying about going back to school to finish my degree. God spoke clearly to me that I was never to go back to school. The answer actually shocked me at first, but He followed it by saying that, "the things which disqualified me in men's eyes qualified me in His." I am aware that God calls others to school and I don't judge that, but we serve a personal God. It really is about what most fits His purpose, not ours.
Around that time, God also told me to sell every book I owned or give it away.I owned about 700, most of them Christian. I thought it was to financially bless me, but instead it was about me not relying on knowledge about God but God himself. I had an idol, a religious one, which was interfering with what God could do with me and through me.
Months passed and God confirmed I was to go to Latvia, literally, without a plan. Believe me, I kept seeking one. He kept telling me I didn't need one, I only needed to follow His voice. It was a very Abrahamic call, a person He spoke to me about a lot during this time.
God has closed many doors I begged for Him to open and opened others quite unexpectedly. In hindsight, I am so thankful for that.

jeff youngblood said...

He has systematically broke down my understanding of mission and ministry. He has called me to become like those to who He called me, something I can't get from a book, and must give from my heart. And as He wanted to show me, it is ALL about relationship, first with Him,then flowing out to others

I want to propose to you, that this adoption could be the very thing which is preparing you to be truly mission minded. After all, The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Adoption. I also want to suggest that God is way more interested in what He is doing in you, than what He can do through you. This is a message I get over and over from Him. And paradoxically, the man God most can use, is the one who has allowed those thorough workings of His hand. Don't seek the mission, seek the God of missions, and you will end up exactly where you should.

In closing, I want to say that the context within which God wants to do anything, is through relationships, not through knowledge. This is why Paul counted his learning as dung compared to knowing Christ. It wasn't that it was totally useless, just miniscule compared to personally knowing Jesus.
Maybe God is trying to tell you, "you are my son, in whom I am well pleased." You can't earn that by doing missions. I know you may be feeling like you are letting others down because you are not "going in missions." But it simply is not the case. Your identity is not missionary, it is God's son. I think God may be extending a new invitation in your life: Rest in my love. Learn more about that love by mentoring and fathering this child. Learn about me. One of the things the world needs most is fathers.

God gave me an invitation that many did not understand. I didn't even fully understand it, but I followed His call, and He has continued to surprise me with grace and joy, and opening doors and providing for me and my wife in miraculous ways. I have not had a job (though I have been seeking one) nor have I asked for money in over 5 months, but every bill continues to get paid. More importantly, I am learning to love God and people in a deeper way, day by day. Not because I am doing things the way I or others expect or think they should be done,(I continually make mistakes) but because I simply follow God's voice. Man's way is to understand and THEN do, but God's way is obey me and you will understand later...

Love you bro. God bless you.

Karl said...

Wow. I had no idea about everything that has happened with your life since we last talked. Thanks for sharing. I hope he continues moving not only in my life but also in yours!