From He Walks Among Us by Richard and Reneè Stearns
Cling too tightly to what’s good, and we just might miss God’s best.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. — 1 Corinthians 2:9
Not long ago, Rich spoke at a church retreat. During the Q&A session, someone asked how our family had made the decision to leave our old life to follow God’s call to World Vision. How did Rich walk away from his corporate career? How did we leave friends, family, home, and community in Pennsylvania and move to Seattle? The way these questions were asked seemed to reflect a bias on the part of the questioner that whatever it was we left behind was probably better than what we found when we got here.
These questions remind me of yet another question, one we asked of a little boy we met in Malawi. Stopping in a village, we found our vehicle immediately surrounded by children. Several had been playing a game of soccer just minutes before, and one boy approached with the soccer ball still in hand. I say soccer ball, but what the child carried was little more than a bundle of old plastic bags tied up with string.
“Can we trade?” we asked. “If we give you a brand-new soccer ball, will you give us yours?” We thought the ball would be a great example of childhood creativity, of how play can triumph over limited resources. For a minute the boy was puzzled, but then he realized that this trade would mean giving up the ball he already owned. He ran back to his buddies to discuss the offer, and only when all had weighed in on the matter did he hand over his homemade ball for the shiny, new white one emblazoned with a swoosh.
It must have been difficult for the little boy to imagine a ball that would be better than the one he had made with his own hands. That ball was familiar, he was comfortable with it, and it was really hard for him to give it up. As beautiful and sturdy as the new ball might be, the old one still had an allure he couldn’t quite shake. A lot of people feel about their lives the same way the boy felt about his ball, especially when they sense that God is calling them to something new. They like what’s familiar, what’s comfortable, and they’re reluctant to leave it behind, even if they are reasonably certain that to do so would be to follow God’s leading. Hanging on to something that might be good, they miss what’s even better.
To be honest, we were tempted to say no to God’s call to World Vision. We loved our old life. But God was calling us to something new, and we just couldn’t pass it up. We didn’t want to be like Jonah who, in the belly of the fish, had an epiphany about the grace we forfeit when we refuse to follow God (Jonah 2:8). We didn’t want to hang on to a ball of “trash” when we could have the real thing. What are you hanging on to that might be keeping you from obeying God’s call?—Reneé
©He Walks Among Us 2013 by Richard and Reneè Stearns
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