Testing the Speed Limits
Heeding God’s call for obedience in big and small things
Late for church. Again. I pushed my foot on the gas a little harder, whizzing by the 80 kilometers an hour speed limit sign at a modest 93 kilometers. Living in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, Calgary drivers are known for viewing speed limits as a suggestion, and I was no exception. As my minivan sped downhill toward the city core, I heard a still, small voice: Will you obey me in the little things?
The question struck me. As a pastoral family in the Evangelical Free Church of Canada, I thought I was accustomed to obeying God’s call. When my husband became a pastor, we had moved our young family to serve in a church in another community. Just over a year ago we had left the sleepy farm town where we had met and married to minister in the city of Calgary, a booming metropolis surging with energy from the oil and gas industry. Being a pastoral family in a small church meant that our income was tight, but the Lord always provided. Trusting God with these bigger acts of obedience were part of our normal.
But obeying the speed limit was often a bigger challenge for me than obeying the call to serve as a family in ministry. It was such a small thing, I thought. After all, I reasoned, in our part of the country, going a few kilometers over the speed limit was expected, almost required!
Yet the Lord continued to challenge me every time I got behind the wheel. I sensed Him prodding me: Will you only obey me when it is convenient? Or will you obey me even when no one else is? Will you choose to follow me, even if it makes you stand out from the norm?
After weeks of internal debate, I had to answer Him. As the January sun peeked through the clouds, I felt myself praying: OK, Lord, you got my attention. I choose to follow you, even in the little things. So, I depressed the brakes and slowed my van to a faithful 80 kilometers an hour, despite the plethora of pickups speeding around me.
Winter continued, and I realized that this small thing was not the only way that the Lord was working in my heart. After a series of prayerful conversations in February, my husband and I decided that we needed to sell our truck and use the money to further God’s kingdom work.
As the habit of obedience took root in my life, God began to take the next steps in my heart.
A big ask
My husband is the son of missionaries, so we’ve always had a heightened awareness of the need for international ministry.
In October the church where we served celebrated their 35th anniversary with a worship service where the Lord drew me into His presence. I received a vision of where I would want to be, if the Lord were to return in my lifetime. The message was clear: I want us to be serving as missionaries in the Philippines.
I was taken aback: Excuse me, Lord? Did I hear that correctly? Canada is a long way from the Philippines!
But the Lord reminded me of my commitment to follow Him in the little things. Now it was time to obey in a big way. When I shared this calling with my husband, he was naturally surprised. I had always been hesitant about any sort of international ministry, so to suggest that I wanted to pursue this field was out of character for me. In his methodical and practical way, he informed me that it was great that I had felt this way, but he also needed to hear this from the Lord himself.
No more than two days later, my husband was spending time praying and reading Scripture when he distinctly heard: You’re done. Discussing this revelation with the elders of our church confirmed that our ministry at the church was drawing to a close, as the Lord was moving our family in a new direction. It was no longer a question of if the Lord was calling us to missions, but when, and the answer was right now!
Obedience as a lifestyle
As we shared our call with others in our church, they confirmed the Lord’s direction to move into missionary work. Our friends and family rallied around us as we prepared to move to the Philippines, supporting us emotionally, prayerfully and financially.
Even with this support, the question we heard over and over was: “How can you pick up your family like this and move them all the way around the world?” We could only respond: “Because the Lord asked us to, and we want to be obedient.”
Serving in the Philippines has shaped our understanding of how to be the hands and feet of Christ. Under the care and direction of the Evangelical Free Church of Canada, we ministered as boarding home parents at Faith Academy, an international school seeking to care for the children of Christian workers in Southeast Asia.
Over the next two years, we welcomed more than 30 teenagers into our home, our family and our hearts, caring for their physical, academic, emotional and spiritual needs while their parents served the Lord around the globe. We obeyed when the Lord called us to serve in this unique ministry, and we continued that obedience to serve Him when He directed us to return to Canada. As we continue to live in relationship with Christ, we continue to make the choice, often daily, to obey Christ in every area of our life, both big and small.
Where is the Lord asking you to be obedient? Is there an area of your life, big or little, you’ve surrendered to God? Share your story in the comments.