Called or Held

I didn’t hear from him but that’s not unusual. I can count the mission trips I have been on but cannot count the business trips I’ve made. Many were single day trips before September 11 changed air travel forever. 

I recall my first day trip for a press approval. As the tiny prop plane sped down the runway, I recall thinking, “Why are they sending me?”

A few press checks later, the wrong stock was put on press. Another trip, the wrong finish coated the press sheet. I realized the cost of my airfare was a fraction of a remake, if there was even time to do so. There is never extra time in a marketing schedule.

Before a mission journey, countless times a person will wonder, “Why is He sending me?”

I will likely never know my effectiveness or impact. It takes time for fruit to ripen but we often see buds from the seeds we plant. The thoughts of inadequacy often accompany mission work whether short, mid, or long term. It is the most effective tool satan has in his arsenal, keeping us grounded and isolated in the sanctuary of our homes. 

Doubt or discernment?

Two years ago I had a lively discussion with my husband. I was prompted to go out; he was not. From my observation, I watched couples heading to the mission field together and thought a few things–

1) He was holding me back. Ignoring the call for comfort. Maybe he isn’t truly saved? [gasp]

2) The prompting I felt wasn’t authentic. It was a personal challenge– works to externally validate faith. 

3) Even more raw than #1… Considering the 17 year disparity in our age, would I have to wait to be widowed to serve in the capacity I had visions of?

It has taken me months to write these words. I’ve had to come to this place in my heart and mind when I realize God is using us, even if we aren’t hip to hip venturing out as many married couples are. 

I was on my second international trip when the husband leading our team said, “It’s sort of awkward to call home.” It was as if he unlocked a shackle on my ankle. On my first trip, the leader kept insisting I use her phone to call home. I declined the offer with a guilty feeling that our marriage lacked something everyone else obviously has. In the midst of my guilt, I flashed back to many business trips when a simple text or email home was sufficient. This was especially true of my conferences for my home business. The time away was filled with training and energy that required one to stay present in the moment. Communicating that excitement is difficult through a phone line. It is usually best discussed hip to hip on the couch while sharing a bowl of popcorn or face to face across a reunion dinner. The later was often the case for us as we took time to hear about our experiences apart from each other. 

When will you go?

If the shoe were on the other foot, I would snap like a dry twig hearing this oft repeated question. My husbands skills are surely needed in the places I have visited. He wouldn’t need to go out to teach to be used by God. As I painted this week, I could envision him with us. Even more, and our daughter agrees, he is well-suited for Belize. We both desire his calling to be of God and not out of obligation to either of us. The trip would be a failure– a drain on our spiritual focus rather than pouring oneself completely to those you have traveled to serve. 

I felt a little of that divided energy on this trip. It will be a balance I will need to consciously manage when my teammates are also my family. There was a moment that I wished I could have sent my daughter on her return and come on my own to meet the people in our Mexico community. But there is a light that shines brighter when people see you’ve ventured out together. We’ll both need to learn to adjust. A year of college might be just the ticket to remedy the small issues on this trip. 

Those little things made me wish David wouldn’t feel a call so I could selfishly travel solo. Much like the feelings of inadequacy, they are the tools used to thwart kingdom building efforts. It’s easy bait to bite. 

Whether it’s a local mission effort or a trip that takes a connecting flight, I will keep going. I’ve come to realize there are many people willing to go but are tethered my a mate who, like me, do not have a traveling companion. I’d rather have two hands out serving than four at home. When we both go, someone will have to watch the dog and the fridge will need to be emptied before we leave. 

Even though we lack communication while I am out, we are still connected by a three-strand cord. Maybe one day he will go too. Maybe not.

Just as married partners trust the will of God to lead them, so will we. There may come a point in time I am grateful we didn’t pull up stakes to move south. Then again, there may come a time when he says he is ready. Either way, I have faith and trust that God’s ways are not my own. That is a good thing. 

If your spouse isn’t stopping you from going, what is? Two hands are better than none. 

How do you feel after reading this post?

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