Joanna has her marching orders, and I have mine
Joanna, a young missionary living in Croatia, sent me a message today asking for prayer. She is a native Croatian who has ventured out of her country only once—and that is when we met in Sarajevo. Joanna said that she was invited to go to India and partner with a missions organization there.
Joanna has had quite a struggle with her faith. She’s 23 years old, and the first believer in her family. Her mother has given her a lot of trouble, even throwing her out of the house. Her father (who is divorced from her mother) treats the whole thing with indifference, like it’s just another fad in her young life. The economy is not terribly strong in the Balkans, so Joanna has had a constant struggle to find money to finish her education. But God has always come through for her right when the money for the next semester is due. And I have been her prayer support through all the drama in her life.
So today she said that she wanted prayer to know whether she should go to India, and how on earth she was going to pay for the trip. She has been saving her money for a trip to Israel.
I told Joanna that the real issue is this: is God calling her to go to India? When she knows the answer to that question, then she’ll know what to do: stay home and continue to save money for Israel or be obedient and go, trusting that God will provide.
After a few minutes Joanna sent me another message, saying that her friend had a great idea: tell God that if He wants her to go to India, then He needs to provide her with the money. I responded that it takes no faith to put such a challenge before God. Most likely, He simply won’t play the game at all. I brought her back to my original answer: she must know whether God is calling her to India, and then respond in obedience. God will honor obedience. What He won’t do is perform like a trained poodle.
A few minutes later another message came from Joanna: God is calling me to India! And even though she doesn’t know where the money will come from, she’s very excited to have that clarity and direction. Often we just need to get quiet and ask God about our next steps.
I recently had to make such a faith decision, myself. I had heard about a conference in Idaho. Of course the subject is one that fascinates me: prophecy. But the thing that really made me want to go and be there is this: they will have an excursion out to the side of a mountain to watch the total eclipse of the sun pass over the United States. God often calls me to go to things like that. The problem is that this is in August, perhaps the most expensive time to cross that ocean. It’s already a lot that I do it once a year, but twice? I really needed clarity from God on that.
First I tried to rationalize it, saying to myself: if I go to the US, I can spend a month editing my book at home, where it won’t be an expensive place to go, and my meals are all provided for me. But I still didn’t feel good about it. I only got clarity on whether to go or not when I spent quiet time talking and listening to God. That’s when He told me: “I brought this conference to your attention because I want you there. So I bought tickets, booked a room, booked the flights, and notified my family. Of course, they were thrilled.
Where’s the money coming from? I don’t know that’s not my problem. Mine is simply to obey. God is good!