You have heard the stories in the Bible. In Genesis, God said to Abram, “Go…”. In Matthew, Jesus calls Simon (Peter) and Andrew and says to them, “Follow me…”. In John, Jesus speaks to the people saying that he is the light of the world and once again invites them to follow him. But these are the stories of people long ago. I grew up thinking the reality of these things happening again is so far-fetched and unforeseen. Is that really how God works today?
I have grown up in a world with an expectation to finish school, get married, buy a house, have children, find a good career with a decent retirement plan, find a good church home, and live a happy life. All these are beautiful blessings from God.
I had most of these things and was very happy. I had a great job working in a church with college students, a wonderful church home, a cute house, a great kid and a dog. I was fulfilling that expectation but also sharing God in my everyday work life. Wasn’t this enough?
And then came one ordinary day, with an ordinary phone call that led to an extraordinary journey. This phone call led to my awareness of Youth With a Mission and then a beautiful relationship with some of the missionaries. But most importantly that phone call was the beginning of God’s work in not only my heart, but my son, Brody’s.
On New Years Day of 2018, I prayed this prayer, “Dear Lord, I want to follow you. If I am too comfortable please take me out.” Yes, that was my prayer. We call that a dangerous prayer because, contrary to what some think, God hears prayer. “God looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.” I was seeking Him with my whole heart and had made a choice a couple years back to follow Him. That’s what led me to the church I was working in, but that’s another story.
That prayer became the greatest New Year’s resolution I had ever made and has changed my life forever! Within 2018 and 2019, I quit my job, left family, removed my son from school, sold everything I owned, moved out of my house, and fully submitted to God. I have completed a Discipleship Training School and School of Evangelism at Youth With a Mission and now me and my son are full-time missionaries, a family in missions. This may sound crazy because it is but the joy of the Lord surrounds us.
Now keep in mind, this is not easy as Jesus warns in Mark. He says, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” There have been many obstacles, trials, relationship issues, tears, loneliness, and yes even doubt. But God is good and loving and He consistently shows me and my son that following Him is what life is about. It’s not about us. It is about God and sharing His word and love with a world that doesn’t know Him, a world that rejects Him, a world that is broken and yearning to know real love, yearning for Him.
We have met some amazing missionaries, humble, and in love with God. Missionaries who have left a whole lot more than Brody and me. Missionaries who come from Muslim backgrounds, after Jesus appeared to them in a dream and they said yes to following Him. Missionaries who leave their country and come to America with very little English skills but a whole lot of faith. Missionaries who share stories about what God has done that will make you shiver and cry as you can feel God’s love in their testimony. People who have said, “Yes”. People who have made a choice to follow no matter the cost.
As Brody and I look to the New Year, instead of making a New Years Resolution, we say another prayer, a prayer that was once spoken long ago in the Bible. “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
So this New Years, as you celebrate 2019 and anxiously look into 2020, instead of making a “normal” resolution, ask God what He wants to do in 2020. And then be ready for a New Years Resolution that could change your life forever.
Guest Author: Jonna Russell
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