When I first gave my life to Jesus, I remember saying to him, “Wherever you want me, whatever you want, however and whenever you want it—I am all yours.” Honestly, I think that kind of response is just what love, in fact, does. If you’ve ever fallen in love, you know what I’m talking about. Love gives itself, and it gives itself completely. That’s what marriage is: I am yours, and you are mine. And when the love of Jesus touches us, when his call comes to us, it awakens a similar response—I am all yours!
I’ve spent my life in the church and have had countless conversations with followers of Christ who have heard the call and given themselves to him in exactly this way. They’ve left (and keep on leaving) safety and security behind because Jesus is calling them to follow, and the level of their obedience routinely staggers me.
Years ago, Mandi and I scheduled a dinner with some folks in a congregation we pastored. Through the grapevine we had heard that they were taking steps toward adoption. With two biological children already, an adoption would be a massive undertaking. We were eager not only to hear the story behind the adoption but to learn how we could help.
“So, has adoption been on your heart for most of your lives?” we asked over dinner.
“Oh yes,” the husband replied, “for like, weeks.”
He had a good sense of humor. We laughed and then pressed further: “What’s the story?”.
“Well,” his wife replied, “I was in prayer one morning a few weeks ago and was just overcome with the thought that there were kids around the world who had no family to look after them. On my heart especially that morning were children with special needs. I was pleading with Jesus to do something about it when I sensed him saying, ‘Okay. Why don’t you adopt one?’ We talked it over and both felt that the word was genuinely from the Lord, so we decided to take steps to adopt a special-needs child from Africa.”
Mandi and I were astonished. Two years later, this couple had adopted not one but two kids from Africa. Both arrived with massive medical needs. Both were and are flourishing because of this couple’s obedience. The call came. They responded.
The encounter with Christ the Lord is like that. We say to him “I am all yours” and what we discover is that he takes those words with uncompromising seriousness. When I said to the Lord all those years ago, “Wherever, whatever, however, and whenever,” like most of us, I meant it. I really did. But what I have been surprised at is how often Jesus has come to me, disturbing my safe little world once again with the call, “Follow me.” It is always startling, like a splash of cold water in the face. I’ve come to learn that’s part of the signature of his call.
Back in 2016, Mandi and I finishing were up our seventh year of ministry at a church in Denver we had helped plant with our friends when we began to feel a bit of disturbance in our hearts. After seven years, the church had really rounded into shape. We were several hundred people strong, with a good leadership team and staff, and money in the bank. Even more than that, we had an identity and reputation and were starting to coach churches and pastors around the country in many of the lessons the Lord had taught us along the way. I loved our work. I loved that church. And I wanted to die there. I could think of nothing better.
And then it happened. Early one morning, I was in prayer and I sensed the Lord say, “Go ahead. Put it on the table.”
“Put what on the table?” I immediately replied.
“You know what.”
“No, I don’t,” I retorted.
“Yes, you do. Put it on the table.”
After a bit of a tussle, I finally blurted out: “My pastorate here, Lord? Would you like to talk with me about that?” Instantly I sensed his smile, which seemed, frankly, crazy to me. After all, getting the church to a place of stability, where it can become a strength and resource to others . . . this is what you work for! This is the destination! The “playbook” says I stay! Plus, Lord, we’ve already taken the “big risk” in moving here. Haven’t we proven that we’re obedient? Haven’t we graduated? Can we just stop with all the risk and uncertainty now?
Apparently, we hadn’t graduated. In fact, I’ve learned that with Jesus, you never do. You never graduate from the risky and uncertain call, “Follow me.” Crashing against the shores of our all-too-predictable lives, the call keeps coming, upending everything, making things new.
Within six months, we had resigned and moved on to our next assignment. The adventure continues.
Taken from All Flame by Andrew Arndt. Copyright © 2020. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.
About the Author
Andrew Arndt is the lead pastor of New Life East, one of seven congregations of New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Prior to joining New Life’s team, he served as lead pastor of Bloom Church: a neo-monastic, charismatic, liturgical, justice-driven network of house churches in Denver. He is the host of the Essential Church podcast, a weekly conversation designed to strengthen the thinking of church and ministry leaders. Andrew received his MDiv from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has written for Missio Alliance, Patheos, The Other Journal, and Mere Orthodoxy. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Mandi, and their four kids. Andrew’s upcoming book, All Flame, releases from NavPress in September 2020.