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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Changing Course

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

2010 was the year the Lord set our family on a different course. It’s not like we were on Path A and He said… “hey, y’all scoot on over to Path B now.” It was like we were on Path A and a gale force wind picked us up and hurled us all the way to Path W.

In 2010, Dan and I started a ministry in Africa, we adopted two children from Uganda, we left our world renowned mega-church to plant a little church that meets in an elementary school cafeteria and we made the decision to leave our private school and start homeschooling our children. That’s a lot. Is it too much for one year?

This year, my friends Terrell and Jane moved their family from the Atlanta suburbs into a rough inner city neighborhood. They are also in the process of adopting an HIV + child from Uganda. What about Jane and Terrell? Too many changes for one year?

Dan and I regularly hear this question – why do ALL of this right now? Why spread yourself so thin? Why so many crazy changes all at once?

Well, the easy answer is this – often these changes flow from one another. Dan and I adopted because we started a ministry in Uganda and because we spent a lot of time in that little, beautiful country and saw the great need. We are homeschooling because we recently adopted two children and we think our family can grow stronger bonds by staying at home together next year.

But the harder answer is this – why would I partially surrender my life to Christ? Why would I give Him a little piece of my life to work on when He requires all? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.” – Luke 10:27. My understanding of the gospel is that it’s an all or nothing deal. You are either all the way in or you’re out.

Two thousand years ago it was just a regular day on the beach. Jesus approached two fishermen and said to them “come, follow me.” And the fisherman “immediately left the boat and their father and followed Him.” And with that, the lives of those two fishermen completely changed forever. Nothing was ever the same again.

Dan and I may not have literally jumped out of a boat, abandoned all our possessions and walked away from our lives – but we did fully exchange one lifestyle for another. This new course we’re walking is not easy and it’s not always fun, but it’s full of Jesus. “Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” – I Peter 4:13

Is your life marked by suffering for Christ? Or is your life full of ease and comfort? Don’t buy into the prosperity gospel – the idea that we do our part and then God will bless us with health, wealth, comforts and ease. The life of a disciple of Christ should be marked by trials and sufferings, not the other way around.

Have you, like those humble fishermen, encountered Jesus? If so, your life should reflect it. We cannot serve two masters and we can’t walk two paths at the same time.

Note: If you enjoyed this post, you'll love the latest post on the SixtyFeet blog. I had no idea the guys were writing on this exact same subject this week. I should check in with my husband more often :-)


Abby said...

Love your crazy life. Its all or nothing with Jesus. I like how you said you can't just give part of you. He wants ALL of us!!! I feel like we are in the middle of being thrown from plan A over to plan W.


Alison said...

Love this post, Shelly! And love seeing how God has changed your course over the past year! And we are so excited about showing Bereaved here this week!!! And Cupcake Kids on Saturday too!!! It's going to be a good week! :)

Joy Portis said...

Just wanted to check in and say hi and how much I enjoy your blog! Hope you're doin well!


Tracy said...

AMEN!! Thanks for sharing!

Wild Olive said...

Amen! Here's what I read this morning from Luke 12:

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The rich man in this parable totally echoes our American mentality. "I've got to save up as much as possible for retirement, relax as much as possible, be as comfortable as possible and make my life happy!"

And then Jesus couldn't have made Himself any clearer in the subsequent verses: "This very night your life will be demanded from you." and "Sell your possessions and give to the poor."

Where my treasure is, there's my heart. Does my life really reflect my love for Christ, or am I too consumed with this world?

I've probably read this chapter 100 times, but it's never really stood out to me until now. Until this past year, I never realized that I was sucked so deeply into our culture, that one couldn't tell me apart from the rest of the world.

Thank you, Lord, for changing my heart! (...still got's a long way to go...)
Love you, T

This High Calling said...

Thanks, Shelley! We hear all the time now, "You're amazing!" God's grace has shown us that obedience isn't amazing; it's obedient. But we do have an AMAZING savior!

Christen said...

So encouraged by your crazy family. Our lives look like a whirlwind of change over the past 3-4 months and I know God has more and more big things planned! I keep feeling like I am so tired of people saying "just make sure you are being wise" and when asking for prayer its always "if this is your will let it happen" I mean don't get me wrong I know theres truth there but it IS Gods will that we live fully for Him and care for 'the least of these' and we have been "wise" for far too long, I want to be foolish for Christ now! :)

Kris Reid said...

dear owens-
thank you for sharing your lives and your stories! i heard about you through an old college friend. we live in atlanta too, and are in the process of fund raising and house selling- as we are moving to Uganda in September with our three kids as missionaries. i am a physician and my husband an architect- we'll be practicing and teaching- and homeschooling at least one (i currently homeschool our oldest who has special needs)- would LOVE to connect and meet your kids before we head out and to hear more about your ministry. peace and love