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The Impractical, Uncomfortable Call of God

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Some friends of ours moved their four children (all under the age of 10) to Costa Rica for a one-year language school intensive in preparation for service in medical missions to the highland Indians in the mountains of Peru.

A popular high school homecoming queen from Brentwood, Tennessee, made her home in the Masese community of Uganda and eventually adopted 14 girls in lieu of pursuing a college degree and marrying her high school sweetheart.

A man and his wife left a successful business career and moved their two sons to inner-city Atlanta where they live and serve as neighbors among those in need.

Each of these stories features people stepping outside the proverbial box labeled “sensible” and into the wild frontier called “the unknown.”

Because let’s face it, from a cultural perspective, it’s impractical for a successful family doctor to uproot his wife and young children to live in a foreign land stricken with disease and debauchery. It’s impractical for a pretty young woman to choose orphans and castaways over college. And it’s impractical for a man to move his family from the comfortable plenty of American suburbia to the insecure poverty of Atlanta’s unfortunate.

God may not be calling you or me to something so dramatic as learning a tribal language in order to minister to people steeped in the depths of poverty and despair in a remote mountain village, but He may be calling us to something that looks insensible when viewed through the cultural eyes of those steeped in comfortable Christianity.

Now let me say right now that like many Christ-followers, I’m every bit as tempted as the next Believer to curl up like a contented kitty in the lap of comfy Christianity. But when Jesus said to “go and make disciples of all nations,” I don’t think He envisioned us staying put in our comfortable cliques in our cozy churches while the nations (or even just our unchurched neighbors for crying out loud) come to us.

The Impractical, Uncomfortable Call of GodAnd that’s why it gets weird.

You see the going in Christ’s command to “go and make disciples” isn’t a very sensible part of our cultural fabric. Going is uncomfortable and awkward; going is insecure and unsteady. So from a cultural standpoint, going isn’t usually considered “practical” unless, of course, it affords us more comfort, more security, more steadiness.

But that’s not how Jesus rolls. The disciples, for example? Following Jesus for them meant the opposite of comfortable, secure and steady as they walked with Christ through angry mobs wanting to stone Him, rode over waves that nearly crushed them, ran for their lives from Romans who arrested Him, and eventually died to perpetuate the “good news of great joy.”

So my question for you today is this: how are you choosing to follow Christ’s command to go?

For me, it meant taking a plate of cookies to a new neighbor.

It didn’t look like anyone was home, so I let my preschooler ding the doorbell several (hundred?) times while we debated whether or not to leave the cookies on the porch or take them home to deliver later.

Suddenly, the porch light flipped on (surprise!), and a woman — with her wet hair in a towel — greeted us in broken English. Talking too quickly and with way too many words, I realized neither of us could understand the other (the family is from Africa). Also? The person to whom I was speaking wasn’t the new neighbor after all — it was her visiting mother.

Talk about uncomfortable! (I’m sweating right now as I think about how many times I let my daughter ding the doorbell. Seriously.)

But you know what? I’ll try again. It’s not the mountains of Peru or the slums of Uganda or the inner-city of Atlanta, but God called me to this woman’s house just a few doors down, and I will go.

Where is He calling you? Make no mistake: if you’re a Believer, He is calling you to “go.” Maybe to your neighbor’s house? Maybe to a random address He is impressing on your heart? Maybe to the home of a person you just met, to a city three states over, to a job that pays a third less than what you’re making now?

Bottom line: the call of God is usually impractical and uncomfortable, but to embrace it means we get to toil alongside the God of the Universe who wishes to include us in His work. Suffering a little insensible discomfort seems a small price to pay for such a grand privilege.

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Gifted with one beautiful daughter for her tenth wedding anniversary and another for her twentieth, high school English teacher turned homeschooling mom Rhonda Owens is passionate about the Word. She loves nothing more than to study it, talk about it, write about it, apply it, live it and teach it ... all preferably accompanied by deep community and good chocolate. Exploring with husband Mitchell and her two girls is a favorite pastime, and you might find them snorkeling, hiking, or kayaking in a remote corner of God’s world — or simply walking in the woods behind their home in little Bryan, Ohio. Co-author of the book Undivided: A Family Devotional: Living FOR And Not Just WITH One Another , her writing can also be discovered at MitchellAndRhonda.com. Additionally, you can find Rhonda on Facebook, Instagram (rhonda_owens) or at ForTheFamily.org where she contributes regularly.

5 Comments
  • Well, great! Now I can’t give up on that thing I wanted to give up on. *sigh* In all seriousness, I’ve been struggling with a volunteer position recently. It’s like repeatedly walking into a brick wall sometimes. I see the good I do, but sometimes the obstacles that must be overcome to get to that good are overwhelming. Thank you for reminding me it isn’t about me, but God.

    • Rhonda

      LOL, Melissa! Isn’t that just how it feels sometimes! That the obstacles to overcome are overwhelming? I seriously think that is one of the signs that we’re probably right on track.

      • Despite pounding my head against the wall, I learn right along with those I’m helping. I long away stopped trying to understand God’s ways and instead just follow.

  • Briana

    For me, the uncomfortable call means installing zip lines in our back yard when we really don’t have extra funds for this. But, we believe God has told us to do it for the sake of drawing people to our home, our property where they will be exposed to the life giving message of Jesus. It means initiating and facilitating a group of fellow neighbor mommas that meets once a month in my home where we discuss matters of family and faith. It means putting aside nights of Netflix to instead, study and prepare for a teaching I am to give to the ladies in my church on love.
    I feel so over my head and extended beyond our financial means with some of these things, but we are trying to keep in step with the Spirit and trust Him for each one. We desperately want our lives to count for eternity.
    Thank you for your encouragement here.

    • Rhonda

      Absolutely agree! Usually when I step out in some kind of faith, I feel “over my head” in some area: whether it be time or finances or education or skill, etc. But when we discern that the call is from God, then we can believe He will provide. It’s just how He rolls! ;)

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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The Impractical, Uncomfortable Call of God

by Rhonda Owens time to read: 3 min
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