In 1998 I left the comforts of my small town and flew half way across the world to Spain for a missions trip with my college basketball team. We traveled all over the country playing basketball, sharing testimonies, doing camps for kids where we shared the gospel, and ministering on the streets. We didn't see very much poverty…we stayed in nice hotels…ate at nice restaurants…went shopping….went to bull fights(which I will never go to again…no clue they actually killed the bull!!)…and we came home. It was a great experience…but I thirsted for more.
Shortly after coming back home to my small town I felt God calling me to do something bigger than anything I could have imagined. I was in my last semester of college when I signed up to go to India with Light Ministries out of Liberty University. I was signing up for a year term…and off I went to raise money. Months later the money hadn't come in and God shut the door. I didn't understand why, but shortly after that my grandfather died….I quit my job to take care of my grandmother who suffered from dementia, and then I met my husband. I saw that God's timing was perfect and that He truly did have a plan for life..and for now it was not in India. I married my husband and we set off for Georgia to begin our life together in the Ministry…and I have been comfortable ever since.
I have my mini-van…nice home…nice clothes…plenty of food…great church…yeah, I'm comfortable. But about 6 months ago I read Crazy Love and I became extremely uncomfortable in my "comfort". What was I missing? Was I willing to give it all away and follow Christ wherever He led my family? Would I put my kids in a dangerous mission field if God called us there? Would I quit living so materialistically? I was willing to GO twelve years ago, BUT…"I have kids now….there's no way I could do that now…right?". All of these questions have come up in my mind…and then I got the book Radical by David Platt, and I have been rocked to the core again…and the question that won't leave my mind is "am I content to settle for less than radical obedience to Him?"
We read in John 9 about the conditions required to follow Him…become homeless, let someone else bury your dad, don't say goodbye to family, to leave it all behind and follow Him… what does He mean by that? In our minds we think, "surely he doesn't require that of us today". Surely He doesn't require us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor and follow Him….surely not? Leave our families??? No, my Jesus would never do that either. Jesus was calling them to leave their comfort…drop their plans..their dreams, and follow Him..…and I have learned that He is STILL requiring us to do that today! The question is…can I do that?
I sit here typing this now and tears literally brim in my eyes…can I do that? I want to in my heart of hearts…but can I? I have told friends of late that I would sell everything I have…and I would! I would sell my dream house that my husband and I built…the furniture that sits within these four walls…gone. My jacked up mini-van…clothes…you name it. I would be willing to sell it all, for me that is saying a lot because 6 months ago I would have told you no way…I need my stuff. But lately I see it for what it is…STUFF, but even as I write that sentence I immediately think of things I wouldn't get rid of(my camera, photo's, my computer). I think about what my family could do with our money if we downsized it all and sometimes I get giddy at the thought. I desire to give to others…to ministries…to hurting people, but haven't done anything about it yet. I know that being Radical is much more than just selling my "stuff"…it's the other things I struggle with…and that is why I am doing this…to say that I am weak…that I struggle…that I am selfish…that I want to protect my kids…that I am controlling, and I want to be able to lay ALL of that down and just follow Him!
David Platt said it so well about how we have molded Jesus into a man that "doesn't mind materialism and who would never call us to give away everything we have. A Jesus who would not expect us to forsake our closet relationships so that He receives all of our affection. A Jesus who is fine with nominal devotion that does not infringe on our comforts, because, after all, He loves us just the way we are. A Jesus who wants us to balanced, who wants us to avoid dangerous extremes, and who, for that matter, wants us to avoid danger altogether. A Jesus who brings us comfort and prosperity as we live out our Christian spin on the American Dream". And I have fallen into that lie…and lived that kind of Christian life…ever since I became comfortable….and now I am uncomfortable in my comfort. My prayer is that while I study His word and read "Radical", that God would work in my heart…strip me of my pride and selfishness, and that the outcome would please Him.
If you would like to join in on the study…read the responses of other people going through this journey with me you can go to http://www.marlataviano.com/ and jump in on this crazy, radical journey!
It'll change you...I promise!