Taking the Pill

WOW! I don’t even know what to say. That in and of itself, if you know me at all, is a miracle. For some time God has been moving in our hearts, trying to gain our attention. For at least that same amount of time we weren’t really letting myself have His attention. We had lots of things “to do.” We had one, then two, then three incredible kids. And, even before them, we had our marriage, our jobs, a dog, a house, and friends, and, well, “life.” But over the course of the last several years, God has been reawakening us to the fact that we had to let go of all the things we were claiming for ourselves and find our pleasure solely in Him. (For a great read and explanation of how God fulfills us, see John Piper’s book Desiring God.)

Through good, bad, and ugly, God finally said, “enough.” I have better plans for you than any you could make up. So, it is with great fear, hopefully wisdom, I know folly, joy, tears, smiles, and love, that we are writing to you that we are leaping to a new life. I’ve left my job as an attorney for Tyson Foods, Inc. to prepare our family to serve as missionaries. Call it an early mid-life crisis if you want (i’m 35); I pray it is obedience.

I don’t think it is any accident that this happens in the middle of a year and right at the time we Americans begin celebrating our freedom. For the first time in years we suddenly feel more free than we have in a very long time. God has shown us how to line up our God-given passions with his purpose and plan for our lives.

We will begin training to serve as missionaries with Youth with a Mission (YWAM) on July 8th. Please check them out at http://www.ywam.org/, whether you know anything about them or not. It is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world–from Albania to Zimbabwe, Australia to the US, and Mexico to Madasgascar. This is our calling and desire and, at this time, we don’t know where all we will be taken, but we are ready to go. Friends who have been or are a part of YWAM have served in such places as Arkansas, Cameroon, Mexico, Albania, Hawaii, Columbia, Kazakhstan, and the list goes on. We will be, over the next month, seeking God’s will for our first “mission” while participating in a month-long training at the feet of John and Jane Ray, long-time friends of ours who have been with YWAM for 18 and 22 years, respectively.

We know it sounds crazy. We know that because it sounds crazy to us. Here is a biblical word picture of where we are. There was this guy named Jonah. He had a happy life. One day God told him to go to Ninevah. That was just plain craziness to Jonah. Instead of obeying he got on a boat to Spain. There’s nothing wrong with a nice trip to Spain. Many people did it. Meanwhile, many people around Jonah stayed right where they were and did their normal things like growing olives, raising kids, buying and selling, studying the Torah, etc. And, the others on that boat to Spain were just doing their normal thing – sailing, trading, fishing, whatever. None of those things that everyone else was doing was wrong and, by all appearances, were exactly the things they should have been doing. The only person who was doing anything wrong (at least based on what we see in Jonah’s book) in all this was Jonah. He wasn’t obeying what God told him to do. So, he had to do something utterly insane. He had to jump off a perfectly good ship into the middle of a raging ocean during a horrific storm, and I imagine there was no land in sight. Similarly, now, God is telling our family that we need to go in a different direction. We came to a point where we just had to JUMP! And, although it looks like folly to quit/leave/lose/abandon a great job with a Fortune 100 company with three young children (see pictures in one of my previous posts cuz they are beautiful!), a big house, and so on while having no other job except a dream of becoming a missionary, when God tells you to jump, well, jumping is a good thing to do no matter what it looks like around you or what makes you do so. And, now, just as God saved Jonah from that tempestuous sea and delivered him to being one of the greatest prophets of all time, we have to believe that if we are trusting Him with our entire lives, he will provide a way for us.

In the mean time we have begun making the shift from being “for profit” to being not for profit and will need your support. We aren’t asking anyone to send any money just yet, but will send out more information soon once we learn where God specifically is calling us. I never thought I would put myself in a place where I had to ask other people for money. It isn’t easy and, frankly, from where we’ve been it seems awfully embarrassing. But, when I think about how God is already changing us to make this possible by making me realize that every penny I have has been entrusted to me to further His kingdom and to spread the good news of Jesus Christ we get excited. That truth alone (one we should have already been living but weren’t and couldn’t until now) has made all of this worth it.

Most of all we need your prayer and your encouragement desperately. We can feel totally safe and fulfilled in God’s hands one moment and then feel like we are starting to sink into the ocean of despair the next. Your love, encouragement, and prayerful support mean more than it ever has before. And, that, again, is yet another thing that makes all of this worth it.

If you’ve seen “The End of the Spear” you may be familiar with the name Jim Elliot, who was one of the men who lost their lives on a mission to the Waodani in Ecuador. One of his quotes has given us great comfort: “He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” We also are reminded of that great scripture that so many hold close to their hearts, Proverbs 3:5-6, and cling to the truth that God will make our paths straight and level when we trust in Him with all our hearts and lean not on our own understanding.

May God be glorified through our lives,

The Riley family

Bryan, Tara, Tanner, Keaton and Regan

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