We all have a different Africa

First of all, must Spring Break really end? We just spent the most glorious week at the beach with our family of 4. Sam even claimed it to be our best vacation ever- topping Disney World and tying with our Disney Cruise. I don’t know about that, but I will say that it couldn’t have come at a better time. All of us needed the sun and sand with all our mind, heart and soul. I am beyond grateful for the ability our family has to take vacations and that not only can we get away, but that we have the financial resources to pay for the facility resources available to keep Gran while we are away. It is a blessing I don’t even lightly take for granted.

One thing God and I had several chats about this week as I let the waves of His Grace and Mercy just crash over me. I’d really rather be in Africa…… As Christians we often say I’ll follow God wherever He calls. And, then, we check in with God and say, You know I’ll follow wherever You lead, but pretty please just don’t take me too far out of my comfort zone. For those of us living in a very comfortable first world America, with very little persecution for our faith, we almost always associate God calling us to do the impossible to be something like serving as a missionary in a Third World country such as Africa, Haiti, the depths of Asia, or something like that. We often dismiss the fact that our Africa could be right here, smack dab in the middle of our perfect little world.

There was a point in our marriage that I was pretty sure our calling really would be to a Third World country. Jeff and I are both very mission minded, and “go” is a passion of ours. Given Jeff’s skill set, it would have made very good sense for God to call us to a disaster torn area. Specifically, in 2010, I think Jeff and I were just waiting for the Holy Phone to ring and God to tell us we were headed to help rebuild Haiti. With the skills we both had, it just seemed like a natural fit. And, even with two toddlers, I was almost eager to go. And, the phone never rang…. We didn’t even get the call for a temporary week long service project. I don’t know if I was sad that I felt like God didn’t think we were up for the mission challenge; or if I was mad that He didn’t save us from our own financial hell of a downturn in the housing market that had greatly impacted both of our careers. But, we stayed and continued to muddle through our normal life. Not to say God didn’t use us in that time, He certainly gave us both many opportunities to serve our community and local church.

All that to say, while I’m the first to admit I greatly enjoy my lavish lifestyle, flair for travel, and way too much stuff… a call to sell it all and hit the mission field probably wouldn’t have been a huge personal sacrifice for me. It just wouldn’t. Not that I’m begging God to test me on that this particular moment. I just think I could have done that with relatively little dependence on Him. It would have just been another item on my checklist. I would have planned and managed that calling to death and told God how and when we were going to do it. And, in all of my “self” I would have totally missed it. A calling to “Africa” is about total dependence on God. Letting Him do the planning, letting Him get the Glory. Understanding that there is absolutely no possible way that WE or I could take one step toward the call without utter dependence on Him. And, for that reason we all have a very different “Africa”. Your calling may truly be to move to a Third World country to serve the sick and hungry.

And, in case you haven’t figured out, my Africa is staring at me from the comfort of my own home. As a child I was terrified of old people. Visiting my Great-Grandmother in the nursing home made me physically ill. I wanted to go to Medical School at one point in life. I would have had TERRIBLE bed side manner. I would have been nice and sweet on the first visit; but when you didn’t do what I told you to do to make yourself better, or you starting whining about feeling bad- I would not have been kind. I also thought about being a teacher. Problem with that plan, I tell you once, you learn and we move on. Telling you multiple times- I ain’t got the patience for that. Hello, Misty, welcome to your Africa. You will serve Me in a way that throws you to your knees moment by moment. You will be so uncomfortable and know that without complete and utter dependence on Me, your Lord and your God you truly cannot face another tomorrow.

What does that look like to me? It is two years of caring for an old person. A diabetic that refuses to properly follow her diet, thus continues to feel bad. One that needs medication on a regular schedule, yet fights it. One that poops their pants and needs to be cleaned up. One that can’t remember what you said 30 seconds ago, so you repeat yourself over and over and over one thousand times. Someone that used to love and adore me, yet now cusses me and hates me and tells me what a terrible person I am. (Yes, I know this isn’t my Grandmother really saying these things.) I never really thought about caring for a dementia patient as being on mission. But, God continually shows me to take joy in these moments, because it is where He has called me to serve in the moment.  Believe me, most days I am begging God to call me to Africa to escape my world. Somedays, I say forget you God, I am running away to Africa to hide in a hut in a remote village so you can’t find me to call me to serve You. How long will God leave me in my proverbial Africa? I truly have no idea. I don’t know how much longer my family can continue to serve this way. But, for now, I pray that God gives me the strength to remain faithful to the call before me.

So, where is your Africa? Do you need to sell it all and serve in a foreign land? Do you need to take in an orphan and love one of the least of these in your own home? Are you fighting a terrible disease so that God can get the glory in your fight, whether He get the glory in your earthly physical healing or your eternal healing in Him? Do you need to head up a community project to honor and serve the Lord in your neighborhood? I don’t know what God is calling you to do. What I am almost willing to bet, it isn’t what you have planned out and asked God to bless. It probably isn’t something you could easily do on your own. God is calling us to complete and total dependence on Him. Allowing Him to work through us to bring Glory to His name.

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