Faith or Gutlessness?

Can I write a more personal blog post here? More for my sake than for yours. I am constantly struggling with the decision to launch out in faith or pull back to home base. Yesterday I pulled back. I’m now back in London. I came back early . . not sure if i made the right decision or not.

I wasn’t speaking at the Manchester event and my presence wasn’t really needed, but i was hoping to catch up with team members from DAWN and other groups.
Now i am wondering if i should have pushed ahead and stayed up there. I think that by not going there, I might have disappointed a few people. Dang it!
Heres what happened, and i tell you because i am processing it for myself as I write.
We ran out of money a little earlier this month that we usually do and I took the last 20 pounds to use for diesel to get myself up to my meetings in Sheffield and Birmingham. i figured the family would be OK for a few days with what was left in the fridge. God was good and, as always, i had just enough diesel to get me to Sheffield and then to Birmingham. If the Drug Rehab centre that i was visiting had been a few miles further on, I would have been on the side of the road with my thumb out.

Anyway, i was able to advise them and help them in getting their web site going – (should be up soon), and they asked me what i needed and i replied “Diesel to get me to my next place”. They gave me 30 pounds – which was more than enough to get me to Manchester for my next meeting. My thanks to them!
But i still had to decide whether to go on or return to London. I didn’t have the address of the center in Manchester (someone forgot to email me with the address and there was no web information) – meaning that i might be sleeping in my van in Manchester. Even if i found the place, i wouldnt have any money to book a room and would probably be begging one of the missionaries to pay for my room and for fuel to get back to London. AND I HATE BEGGING AND BUMMING OFF PEOPLE. A loan would have done it. But even then, I am supposed to be more “professional” than this and turning up penniless without any means to get home did not sound very attractive to me. And i didnt really feel a sense of WELCOME at this event of which its location was an absolute mystery.
As for my family, my incredibly creative wife was holding the fort, making our pantry work overtime and keeping our 5 kids fed and well. The kids were in good spirits. I thought they might have been a little upset about being at home during the Easter holidays and not touring Scotland but they got to visit their friends in Chichester last week and that was the No. 1 thing they wanted to do.
It was also Friday night and i do like to be home on fridays for our families pizza night. I also had an extra 10 pounds that could possibly salvage the end of the holidays. So i drove back to London, and got there just in time to buy some Coke and rent a movie.

For almost 20 years, this has been the norm for me – running out, trusting God, seeing Him provide out of nowhere, building our trust and dependence on Him. But i am always aware that my kids might regret being brought up in a missionary family. And there are times when I long to have something i can fall back on – some property, a house, some savings, some kind of investment. Still, this is the life I have chosen and still choose.
Sometimes I launch out in faith and God catches me. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy to launch, and I creep home. I don’t sense any disappointment from God. He’s totally cool with it. But people don’t always understand. Missionaries understand. Sometimes the money is there and sometimes it is not. But the work continues.

My current situation calls for more faith. I have 4 overseas ministry trips to make in the next month. I havent got the tickets yet. Two of those will reimburse my airfare, two will not. I cant really buy any of the tickets at the moment, and will end up paying more because i am late.
Should I cancel some of my trips? Maybe i am overextending myself? Maybe I need to raise more support? Maybe we shouldn’t be living in such an expensive country? Dang . . . am i even in the right place at the moment?

Anyway, thats where i am today. Maybe today, I am in the wrong place. Or maybe i made a good decision and chose family over ministry, a decision that one day my kids will remember. Maybe I invested in the sanity of my family instead of in the advancement of the church. I JUST DONT KNOW. I don’t have the answer.
But I do know this . . . . that God is really proud of me, and cheers me on as i make my decisions. He thinks its great when i leap off a cliff and expect to be caught – and He always catches me. He would have caught me again in Manchester. I know it. I have been leaping for 20 years and He has been catching for 20 years.
But when I choose not to leap, but rather to retire and call it a day, then I feel God is also cheering, . . . but from His armchair.
God is my greatest fan, when i make the impossible leaps and land safely in his arms. And His applause does not die down when hang up my towel, pack my bags and head home to my family. I might doubt myself, and others surely will. But God will sustain his enthusiasm for me as I co-create with Him, as I partner with Him in reconciling all things to Himself, in aggregating all that needs to come home to Him. Everything and everyone.

Gutlessness? Maybe. But it doesnt change God’s love and commitment to me.

Right. I feel a little better now. But not much. Thank you blog for a place to vent. And thanks to you- if anyone out there ventured out this far and this deep with me- for your understanding of me. I hope you are not too disappointed in me.

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

29 Comments

  • Not disappointed at all! Father is so proud of you and me! He told me so as I was reading your words! I also was wondering if you could send me your snail mail address? if so send it to my email link.
    Peace bro.

  • I’m glad you shared what you did, and I think it is just as much for the sake of us, your readers, as for your own. How easy for all of us to see you as a fount of important information, and forget the human factors, personal sacrifices, and family dynamics that go into the creation of what you have to minister with!
    If you were a film, we’d obviously see that the arc of the story goes toward transformation. But we’re not always so aware of the subplots of difficult decisions that may go with any particular segment of frames. We talk about pioneering ministries and planting Kingdom enterprises in emerging cultures – but without the wrestling that goes on supposedly behind the scenes, does any of that ever get done? (Thanks for letting us in on the “making of” special feature …) From the lens of faith, perhaps the wrestling with God over decisions like you talked about is the REAL plot of the day, far more than what creations we produce.
    I’ve known you, Debbie, and your family for nearly 10 years now. The Joneses are one family I definitely know are on a journey of transformation that is changing the world, but it’s only because you yourselves are being changed first. Love you guyz and am praying the continued realization of Lamentations 3:22-36 – grace and perspective in the midst and aftermath of tough times.
    You rock, man! And Debbie is an incredible source of love and wisdom! And your kidz are koool …

  • Thank you Andrew for sharing your heart! I think I understand you as I have been there many times myself during my 42 years in ministry! Like Paul we have had to learn to live on almost nothing or with everything. We have had to learn the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For we can do everything with the help of Christ who gives us the strength we need.

  • Andrew – I’ve never met you, but I read your blog almost daily. I appreciate your transparency and honesty w/ this post. Probably one of the freshest things I’ve read in a long time.
    ::thanks::

  • Thank you indeed! I agree with Brad’s comments completely. It’s good to be reminded that it is only through the life of struggle and transformation that you and your family minister to us all. In fact, as a young father and family choosing to live a life on mission that IS your ministry to us.
    Blessings in abundance on you and your family Andrew.

  • Thanks for drawing me into your story and living the truth of the church with me. I’m glad I can journey with you. Vision of you and your family dance in my head. Plus I’ve got your shoes sitting on my shelves. God bless.

  • I am so glad you see God the way that you do, not as dissppointed in us when we feel like we have let him down (or let other people down). I really love the way you portrayed God’s heart in this post.
    Thanks

  • Thanks for your revealing comments. I feel like I know you a bit better now, that creates trust n admiration rather than disappointment for me. I can identify with you matey!

  • Are we missionaries messing up our kids’ lives? My wife & I often wonder and have recently been struggling with this. Last night the director of a nearby YWAM base told us how well his kids are doing in college and how their experience in Latin America has greatly enriched their lives. Jan and i were greatly encouraged and so, though we lead a difficult life, sometimes we just need a pat of encouragement. Grace to you, my brother! ((And when are you gonna send me your snail mail address so I can send some Nica coffee across the pond?))

  • great post – names the struggle for many….
    i wonder if you may be in a change of season with the move to london? i may be completely wrong but the instinct to be with the family more seems a good one to me…
    keep on keeping on

  • Well I’d like to leave some encouraging words but it seems you decrescendoed that story into a pile of God truth and self realization. Next time maybe you could end the story with severe doubt and feelings of worthlessness, then maybe I could be of some more help.
    peace,
    jay

  • Been reading your blog(s) for a while and often inspired/challenged, I love watching what your doing.
    Thanks for this post. Feels like I know you a bit more now. My wife and I are both working out how to go for a mission based life which might mean less money, problems with buying a house etc. and your post really helped me.
    Thank you.

  • i love this kind of story.
    wondering, wandering, no money in the pocket, sure of god’s love and favor, even as the protagonist agonizes over the next step.
    hang in my friend.
    and *how* are you funded? where would a rich housewife like me send a check from her overinflated grocery budget?

  • A very real, very honest post.
    An interesting aside, this is one of the first posts I’ve read on an emergent/postmodern blog that deals with money. Have I just missed them? Or is there a reluctance to address this topic?
    I realize my receiver might be differntly tuned than most people who read this board. I serve people who don’t have any money so I am way over on the pragmatic end of the spectrum.

  • For what it’s worth… I’m proud of you too! You’re wrestling with all the right issues and you are living what it means to be a person of faith… not perfect faith… but real faith… thanks for the encouragement!

  • I’m just having to make lots of decisions that are raising all of these questions for me – thanks for encouraging me in the struggle today …

  • your words about your kids resonated deeply with me. i’m a parent now, and am sure that, like everyone, i’m screwing up and missing the boat in ways that i never could imagine. i think about it especially in the context of the cycle of parents / children. growing up as a PK in a baptist ministers home, for me, means that most of church / evangelicalism / (and more specifically) fundamentalism feels like a giant wound that i’m trying to heal from. figuring out how to honor my parents / love them / forgive them for staying in that world will be one of my life’s greatest works. But one thing that I’m sure of, I have *no* regrets about the life of poverty we led. In the moment I perceived that my (relative) poverty was to blame for some of the social stigma i felt growing up, but even those experiences — in retrospect that was one of the dimensions of our life that felt the MOST like Kingdom life. In some ways, it seems to me that this “gutless” choice seems like an extension of your very wild choice to live life with your family in the great leap…
    I only have a parasocial relationship with you (been lurking for more than a year) , but i (too, like so many others) was moved by your post & want to affirm that the work you’re doing has been specific and meaningful grace to my life / ears / eyes many times.

  • Hey – you guys rock!! Thanks so much for your encouragement.
    It turned out well. I apologized for my absense at the meeting and people totally understood. No bad feelings at all.
    As for the support thing, I just posted a blog called “The Skinny on Support Gifts” that will answer all your questions.
    its at http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2004/04/the_skinny_on_s.html
    You guys are such a wonderful blog audience and it is so fulfilling for me to write personal stuff and have a few people resonate with it and not call me crazy.
    If i could do sign language, you would be watching me sign this right now . . .
    YOU COMPLETE ME!
    (courtesy of Jerry Mac.)

  • I think you see by now, that none of us are disappointed in you, Andrew, but continue to appreciate you and your place in the Family. Post some more info on how others can share this journey with you by supporting Boaz financially. The Family needs you, you need the Family.

  • Wow! You struck a chord with me – and, I suspect, many other people. The choices we have to make in life aren’t always easy. But God knows us better than we know ourselves. God understands, and God loves us. His is an impossible-to-conceive love in it’s absolute purest form – selfless, forgiving, kind, generous and compassionate. And why should we expect anything less from our Loving Father? After all, God is Love. Andy, thank you for sharing your words. Thank you for living in faith. Thank you for being so open.

  • Andrew,
    Well it seems everyone else has left encouraging words, and feel like my smart ass comment sticks out like an over educated buttock.
    It says you will know them by how they love one another (I don’t know where, so perhaps it doesn’t really say that, and in that case I’m justifying my smart ass comment in parenthesis), and by the observation of how much you give and receive I would say you are known.

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