Recently I received a letter from a dear saint in America, requesting advice on entering the foreign mission field. Because I feel this relates to anyone desiring to find God’s will for their life, I am publishing it here. This is my response.
A Question of Timing…
Dear …… ; I just realized that I hadn't sent a response to your question concerning what to do about taking care of your parents before entering the foreign mission field. The issue of family responsibilities conflicting with the call to the mission field, is one that many disciples have had to struggle with. I know I did. And although I know you are aware of what the scripture states, but, I would like you to know what I think they mean.
First of all, finding an answer will require much prayer, wisdom and single mindedness, in seeking God’s truth. Any true answer concerning how and when to follow the Lord, must be based on what Christ taught, as revealed in the scriptures and not what is dictated by our personal feelings, the culture we live in or the fear of the opinions of others.
Christ was very clear about counting the cost before becoming His disciple. His reason was and is simple. There are two major issues that can potentially thwart the Lord’s will for our lives. Those issues being, … people and possessions. (Luke 14:26, 33)
Those issues are why Christ stated in no uncertain terms, that we must first examine (or count) the cost of following Him into the work of the Kingdom. Then we must decide in our hearts, no matter what that cost, to obey Him.
The Great Feast
The Great Feast of Luke 14: 15-35 is not about consuming great tasty food at some heavenly diner. It’s about eating the food that Christ referred to after confronting the woman at the well.
In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:31-34)
The food of the ‘Great Feast’, is to do the Father’s will and finish His work. Not just talk about it, or discuss it in living rooms. Please read the passage below and ask yourself… how does this, apply to my situation. It deals with the difference between the feelings of wanting to serve in the Kingdom and the reality of the cost. He loves you and will gladly share His wisdom.
Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!" Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.' Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So that servant came and reported these things to his master.
Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.' " Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them,
"If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.
For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. "Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Luke 14:15-35)
The Timing of His Call…
Our time to come to the great Feast (ie. doing His will)… is when we receive the invitation. You cannot ‘eat’ (do His will), without that invitation. And the timing of the Feast is not up to us either. It is determined by when we receive the invitation.
Notice their ‘reasons’ for not attending the Feast (or not doing God’s will) are completely valid (nothing sinful here and most reasons are good) … yet… their negative response, angered the King.
It was if they were saying to the King… Hey! You didn't consider what I’m currently doing! The timing of this dinner engagement is just too inconvenient! It conflicts with what I think is important. We would love to come but… not today… maybe later. It wasn't as though we don’t want to come, but just … not now. This response insulted the King’s knowledge of their circumstances … hence, His anger.
The punishment for not heeding the King’s voice, was and still is … “For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.” They weren't condemned to hell, nor even cast away… they simply would not be allowed to eat (ie. do His work).
Following Jesus into Kingdom work demands absolute devotion to His will. Anything short of absolute commitment will leave us vulnerable in the terrific spiritual battles that will ensue when we begin His work. And trust me… they will come.
This is why, when a disciple is confronted with God’s call (invitation to do His will) and responsibilities toward loved ones, even that of family members in great need, His will must come first. A serious moment of reflection will remind us… that He is the God of the universe and has already taken in consideration all the ramifications and problems involved in my decision to follow Him, before He sent the invitation.
He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom Then of God." And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:59-62)
Now having said all that … please listen to me, when I say this. I am in no way trying to indicate what or when you should do, whatever it is you feel the Lord is leading you to do. That is completely between you and our King. But if you believe that He is asking something of you, take the time to be very clear as to what it might cost before you respond.
If our Father has asked you to stay and take care of your parents …by all means do so. Yet, if that is so… understand, He has not sent you His invitation to come work in the foreign mission field.
The Kingdom will only advance by our obedience and not our socially acceptable ideas. The only righteous thing to do in any given situation is … whatever He tells us to do. The mission field or the home field, are both valid places to lay down our lives, but only when it is at His bidding.
Someone asked me once when was we called to Africa? My response was… we were never called to Africa… we were called to follow Him and do His bidding. What we are saying is this… if He has told you to go or begin preparing to go out into the mission field, do not hesitate. But like Peter in the boat… wait for His command.
And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." (Mat 14:28)
If you don’t know what He’s saying, then… wait until you do.
This is one of the reasons I hope (at some point) you can come and visit us, meet some other missionaries and see what missionary work is all about. If, presently, you are still seeking to know His will is in this matter then seeking to hear clearly His mind is exactly what you should be doing… presently.
Don’t try to ‘second guess’ whether you’re ready or not… faith cannot be taken out of ourselves and examined to see if we have it… but … in whatever He asks you to do …grace will be there when you need it. You really can… walk on water.
Ask the Lover of your soul for wisdom regarding this issue and he will not reproach you, but rather will delight in giving you His wisdom on the matter. Only, be ready to do whatever He says to do when He says do it… and … and don’t look back.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (Jas 1:5-8)
But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)
So in conclusion… take your time, expect Him to speak to you and be ready to be obey Him regardless of the cost. If you are willing to do His will… you will know what He is asking of you. This is a spiritual principal to know anything spiritual.
If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, (what I teach) whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. (John 7:17)
Concentrate on becoming completely His. His strong support will come to you, based on your loyalty and not your qualifications.
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him." (2Ch 16:9)
FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE ON THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ARE OPEN TO THEIR PRAYERS; BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL." (1Pe 3:12)
Always remember… He’s the Father and we’re the children. Like any good Father it’s the Father’s responsibility to let us know His heart, and it should be ours … to obey it.
Much love … the StoneHouse Family of Believers