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Be careful what you pray for

Just a few days after returning from a 6 day mission trip to Guatemala, my wife and I decided to sell everything we own, including our beautiful home and two small businesses and move to Mixco Guatemala and become full time missionaries.  To some friends and family this seemed to be out of left field and many wondered how on earth we came to this decision.  It’s a fair question.  I’m going to try to lay out the path as I see it, that led us to this point.  Not as a justification but rather as an explanation.

Almost two years ago, my wife gave me a book for Valentine’s day titled Crazy Love by Frances Chan.  It sat on the shelf for at least six months.  As a matter of fact, I never actually read it.  As much as I love books, I rarely get to sit down to read.  I usually buy audiobooks and listen to them.  About a year and a half ago I was looking for a great book to listen to and randomly purchased the same audiobook and listened to it in just a few days.  It is a powerful book.  It challenged me to question my Christianity.  It challenged me to think.  It challenged me to pray and to really know God.

Twelve months ago I somehow lost the audiobook during a reset of my iphone and re-purchased Crazy Love.  If you’re keeping count, this is now my THIRD edition of this book.  I listened to it again.  And again.  And again.  The book is filled with scripture and talks about being radically in love with God.  I have to admit.  That was not me.  I was not in love with God.  I knew God…knew OF God.  I feared God.  But I wasn’t passionately in love with God.

I made a commitment to stop praying.  Sort of.  I stopped praying for God to “take care of me and my family”.  I stopped praying for “healing” and for “safety” and for “success”.  I stopped praying for everything I had ever prayed for.  I traded all those prayers for one prayer…I prayed that I would fall deeply in love with Jesus Christ.  That I would know how passionately He loved me.  That’s it.  Don’t get me wrong…I pray with my kids at night before bed and in the morning before school and when friends and family ask for prayer I absolutely pray.  But when it’s just me and God, I desperately seek God’s love.

During this period the Holy Spirit began to stir in me.  Maybe for the first time ever.  I believe it was at this time that I started feeling constricted.  I had an incredible life.  An incredible family but I was suffocating.  “God, show me how I can love you today.”

“Will a man rob God?  Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ In tithes and offering.”  Malachi 3:8

WHAT???  THAT’S the scripture God gave me?  That’s not what I was expecting.  But, sadly, it was true. 

My wife and I took a very close look at our finances and decided on four things that day.

1.      Tithe.  Not what we can. 10%.
2.      Honor the Sabbath.
3.      No spending other than consumables like food and things we use around the house.  For one year.
4.      No restaurants.  For one year.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” Malichi 3:10

It’s the only place in the bible that God asks you to test him.  I read it almost like a dare.  It inspired me.  I wanted to show God how much I loved Him.  As I was getting to know God, I began to fall in love with God.

It took a few weeks but I finally finished “reading” Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow.  I loved his devotion to God and was inspired by his family’s love of mission work.  In October of 2011 I felt God calling me to go on a short term mission trip.  How does God call you???  Haha.  That’s a little hard to explain and an entirely different blog.  No, there was no booming voice.  It was just me and God and the Holy Spirit. 

I searched the internet for short term mission trips in Spanish speaking countries.  Nothing really stood out.  I just didn’t find anything.  It was nearing the end of the year so there just wasn’t much available.  I posted to Facebook and asked if anyone knew of mission trips through their local church?  My new friend Jenny Northern pointed me to Tiffany Cherry.  I left a message for Tiffany and she quickly got back to me.  Tiffany was leading a trip to Guatemala in November!  AND, she went to MY church!  But… the trip was full.  There were already 20 people and the trip had been closed for some time.  BUT…there weren’t enough men and she said that if I could come up with the money for the cost of the trip, she could open a spot.  I immediately said I could and the trip was booked.  God was ALL OVER THAT!

Our trip to Guatemala was to help at an orphanage that Timberline church wanted to work with more closely and to help at a feeding center run by Pastor Areceli, a 63 year old woman with more energy than most teens I know.  No, seriously.  I’m not kidding.

Two days into our mission trip I woke up wondering WHAT AM I DOING HERE???  The kids at the orphanage were healthy, being fed and being cared for.  I felt a little arrogant swooping in, spending time with them, and then leaving back to my perfect little life in Windsor, Colorado. I just felt that I could have sent the money I spent on the trip instead. 

I didn’t change my prayer, “God, how can I love you more deeply?”

I shared my feelings with my wife and 11 year old daughter that morning over a cup of coffee and Facetime.  Gotta love Apple.  My daughter Cecilia told me, “Daddy, I think God is so proud of you for loving on those kids for Him.”  I did all I could not to cry. 

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40

The day we went to the feeding center I began to see God’s plan more clearly.  There were almost 200 hungry kids praising God.  Thanking God.  Loving God.  And they had nothing.  Some kids ate one meal that day.  The meal we were serving them.  My heart broke.  

I had been praying every day for over a year that God would show me how deeply He loved me.  I had been praying that I would fall deeply in love with Jesus Christ.  That day, I did.  The Holy Spirit was ALIVE in these kids.  God’s love was so absolutely crystal clear that my heart WAS FULL. 

So, yes, on the outside it may seem like I went on a 6 day mission trip to Guatemala, came back and made a crazy decision to sell everything and move out of our little town of 13,000 to a city of more than a million.  But that wouldn’t be the whole story.

What would YOU do if God called you to Guatemala?  What if God called you to tithe?  What if God called you to fall completely in love with Him? 

At once they left their nets and followed Him.  Matthew 4:20

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.  When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”  Matthew 13:44

Be careful what you pray for.

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