“How should we respond if our hearts don’t jump for joy at the prospect of following Him into the unknown?”

What if I told you that I’m moving to the South Bay with my husband and two other families from Cornerstone West LA to plant a church in an underserved area of Los Angeles? What if I told you that I’m also one of the team members for a short term mission trip to Indonesia this spring? 

Now, if I heard these two sentences about someone I didn’t know, or even kind of knew but not very well, I admittedly would make a whole host of assumptions about that person (yes, I know I shouldn’t). But if we are being honest, it would be easy to think that they must be adventurous, brave, devoted, fearless, spontaneous - a real go-getter! It would be easy to wish we were a little more like them. People like that just seem kind of “special.”

But here’s the reality: I am not that kind of person! I’m not that kind of special! Sure, I am uniquely created by God, as we all are. He has given me some gifts that can serve others. But I am not your stereotypical “church planter” or someone who fits the description of “adventurous.” Take me too far from flushing toilets and running water and I no longer think we are having “fun.” Ask me to move back into an apartment with no yard for my kids? Not the adventure I’d pick. I like adventures that end in hot showers, clean sheets and climate controlled rooms. The truth is both of these endeavors are actually really, really hard for me.

So what’s a non-adventurous, non-brave, non-spontaneous person to do when God says “go” or “stay”? How should we respond if our hearts don’t jump for joy at the prospect of following Him into the unknown? Well, after some introspection I realized I wasn’t asked to “feel” anything, but here’s what has been asked of me:

  • Are you willing to serve Me, your Lord?
  • Will you sacrifice your comfort for Me, your Savior?
  • Do you trust Me, your Good Father?

I’m learning that it’s possible to whole-heartily answer “yes” to these questions and still be scared of the unknown. After all, I know practically nothing about how I’ll be spending my 10 days in Indonesia and I know even less about the next 10 months of my life with our pending move. And to our relief, we can be willing and obedient and simultaneously tentative and weary. Our feelings do not negate God’s call or our ability to follow.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rebekah in Genesis 24. She was asked to go into the unknown with no knowledge of God’s plan to graft her into the line of King David and King Jesus. Rebekah agreed to leave family, friends, and the only home she knew, with little expectation of ever seeing them again, after just hearing of how God had blessed her would-be-husband’s family!

When I read about Rebekah, I can clearly see that what’s being asked of me is not nearly as drastic, but I still have plenty of questions. Where exactly will we live in the South Bay? Where will my kids go to school? Will I need to work outside our home to make ends meet? Will there be anyone there who even wants to come to Cornerstone South Bay? Or in regards to Indonesia: Will I be safe? Will I have dysentery? Will I have anything to contribute?

The majority of the plan for both situations has not been revealed to me, and for a woman who loves a good plan, this is tough. If I’m not careful I could wrongly attribute these unknowns to God in a way that postures my heart towards Him in fear or resentment. My sinful heart whispers, “If you loved me, you’d tell me the plan.” But I know my heart lies (Jer. 17:9) so I preach the truth to myself and remind myself that He is the perfect Planner and the perfect Father, and these truths about who He is allows me to answer “yes” to the questions of serving, sacrificing and trusting, even if fear remains.

All my best analogies involve my kids. We like to surprise our kids with unexpected adventures (like a trip to Disneyland). My husband and I know the whole plan. We know when we are going to arrive (opening!), what we are going to do, what order to hit up the rides, what provisions to pack, what will be hard (waiting in line), and how we will help them (I-Spy, drawing pads, looking for hidden Mickeys). We know the plan, and ultimately the plan is to bless them. What our kids know, however, is that we are going somewhere and they need to get dressed, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, and go potty!

Our kids need to obey, not because they know blessings are coming, but because we, their parents who love them deeply, have asked. But, oh, the blessings in store for them if they will but follow us!

I see God operating with us in similar ways. When we're honest, we can admit that sometimes we really don't like it. But when we remember the truth that He is the perfect Father, the perfect Parent, the perfect Planner, we can submit to following our Savior to places unknown. The one truth that makes obedience possible in the face of fear, is WHO our God is.

So, what’s an Average Jane (or Joe) to do when God asks them to “follow me?” I am convinced that the answer is to get up and follow, before all the “whys” are worked out and before the unknowns become knowns. If Christ Himself is the gospel, and the blessings God promises to believers cannot be attained apart from Jesus, then I choose Jesus. I choose Him above my school of choice or a backyard for my kids, over financial stability and flushing toilets. I choose to follow whatever path God has determined for me that keeps me with Jesus. At this point in my life I am finally convinced that being with Jesus in discomfort is better than being comfortable without Him, though in all honesty, it hasn’t taken away the fear of the unknown. We can be like Rebekah, not because we are special but because of Who we are following. We follow our King because He is good and just and kind and merciful. We can rest in the truth that He will care for us. We might be average, but our God is extraordinary, and because of who He is, we choose to follow Him.