By Jon Kalvig
One of the most enviable traits of Jesus was his willingness and obedience in going when, and where, God directed. Isn’t it difficult to release that to the Lord? I know the struggle, despite my desire to walk with the Holy Spirit. Think about how the Spirit of God led Jesus into… and out of… the wilderness. Glance through the gospels and you’ll witness numerous mission trips Jesus went on immediately following a time of communing with God. Imagine having that perspective on life – always tuned into the Spirit’s prompting to go wherever and whenever He leads. But this spiritual discipline wasn’t only practiced by Jesus, this was evidenced by Paul as well. The founding father of missions also sought discernment from the Lord on where and when to travel. Consider the following examples from the book of Acts and take notice of how Paul was sent.
- Paul and Barnabas were instructed, by the Holy Spirit, in the middle of a worship service to be sent on a mission (13:1-3)
- Due to division and threat of persecution and possible death, Paul leaves Iconium for Lystra (14:5)
- After preaching the gospel and doing the initial work of making disciples, Paul saw it fit to leave Derbe and return to Lystra (14:21)
- Paul and Barnabas decide to strengthen the churches they helped plant. Though they split due to a strong disagreement, the effort was multiplied and they further equipped the new believers to carry on the mission (14:36-41)
- The Spirit of God prevented Paul and Silas from doing the work of the gospel in Bithynia. Instead, they went to Troas (16:7-8)
- After receiving a vision from the Lord, Paul heads to Macedonia. It says in Acts 16:10, “And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
- The Ephesians requested Paul to stay. He seemed interested but felt called to sail on noting “I will return to you if God wills” (18:20-21)
When I take notice of the examples of Jesus and Paul (not to mention others in both testaments) I have pondered how this should impact the way we do missions. While I believe that planning for trips months in advance is a healthy way to launch into global ministry, should we not consider an alternative route as displayed by the pioneers of missions?
What if we made ourselves available for God to send us on His timeline? What if the Spirit of Jesus directed you to leave in a few weeks rather than a few months? What if you were always prepared to present the gospel, both in word and deed, at the call of the Lord?
This is the posture I desire more and more for myself, not only in terms of global missions but also neighborhood ministry. Most of us would agree that difficult circumstances often put people in a place ready to receive the good news. Whether that’s a natural disaster in a different state or a house fire in your community. What would it say about you as a Christian, and perhaps more so us as a Church, if we were ready to GO at the Spirit’s prompting? As I have been praying along these fronts in recent months, I was surprised (though shouldn’t have been) that God has told me to go with our Dominican Republic team, despite the narrow two-week window to prepare. Yes, that means I have a lot of catching up to do, and my faith is being tested in raising funds. But there is a peace in the midst of surrender when it is my Savior calling.
May we position ourselves in prayer and anticipation to be sent. To GO… whenever… and wherever… the Spirit of God would guide.