Monday, December 19, 2011

Noel



Dear Friends and Family,

What in the world have we done? This Christmas finds us, by choice, without income, living in an unfamiliar town, down to one car, enduring a cheap apartment, and pregnant – yes, pregnant. We’ve gone from 360 sunny days a year in Tucson to the cold, wet Pacific Northwest, where we’ve seen the sun...some days. Are we crazy?

Yes.

Welcome to the Ledford lunacy. There is no logical explanation for our recent activity, and no logical reason for the joy that accompanies it other than this: there is peace, and joy, in obedience to the Messiah, whose birth we celebrate this season. We’ve become Jesus Freaks.

Mind you, the transformation is slow. We should say that we’re “becoming” Jesus Freaks. Offloading our previous life, with it’s pleasures and comfort, to follow a calling to attend a missionary aviation school, was only the first mind-boggling step. Oh, what a terrifying thing it was! And painful. Yet, we trust God, and He showed Himself awesome, of course.

It is no lie to state that we don’t have a clue where this is leading us, but we’ve come to this conclusion: God so wanted everyone everywhere to be free to love Him, and spend the rest of eternity with Him, that He was happy to send Jesus to us as payment for our misdeeds, in order to re-establish our relationship with our creator. We are happy to have a part in telling people everywhere about that kind of Love.

Gabe is attending a fledgling missionary aviation school here in Eatonville, WA, with the hope of testing for his FAA Airframe and Powerplant licenses in a couple of years. Bonnie is homeschooling Sam and Ciara, and doing a darn good job of it. She’s also about 7 months pregnant this Christmas. It’s a boy. Sam and Ciara are in AWANA at a local church, and Bonnie and Gabe are getting involved at a church 45 minutes to the north. Gabe rides his bike to school almost every morning (uphill both ways, of course), while Bonnie drags Sam through Saxon math and tries to keep pace with Ciara’s appetite for reading.

Every adventure has highs and lows. We’ve chronicled some of ours on this blog, "Treasure in Earthen Vessels". The title refers to a verse in the Bible, and means that we are simply clay pots, and anything wonderful that comes out of this will be due to God’s power and glory.

So, we hope you will follow along as we take every new step, and we pray you’re blessed through the telling.

May you have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of our Rescuer.

Gabe, Bonnie, Sam and Ciara Ledford.


  


Friday, November 18, 2011

Darkest Before the Dawn

1 Corinthians 16:8-9

New King James Version (NKJV)
"8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. "

Ever feel like you're on the verge of something great? An achievement you've worked towards, the end of a journey, an answer to prayer at long last? It's knowing that you are caught up in something bigger than yourself, that somehow, perhaps through divine intervention, you have achieved or are being used far beyond your own abilities and talents. And yet the closer you get to the moment of glory, the farther away it seems and the greater the obstacles in your way.

I'm a Labor&Delivery nurse, a midwife at heart. I was blessed to work at an out-of-hospital birthing center in Tucson for 5 years and see women give birth without the benefit of epidurals to ease the physical and emotional struggle of labor. In those moments-to-hours before a new soul is born upon this earth, I have seen this truth repeated over and over. It is always darkest before the dawn. When a new mother is closest to the end of her labor, she is the most vulnerable to discouragment. She believes with all her heart she has nothing left, that she can take no more, that there will be only pain with no joyous birth. I experienced this myself with both my children's births, and it is a terrifyingly beautiful thing.

With the first birth, I was in a hospital at this moment of crisis (also known as "transition"), reaching out for a lifeline. The lifeline was twofold, telling my husband "Call our mothers (who didn't know I was in labor being far away) and tell them to pray!" He only got as far as his mother before the room was filled with nurses and doctors, then I grasped what seemed the obvious lifeline of an epidural, followed by a dramatically quick birth of our oldest son Sammy.

The second birth, our daughter Ciara's, was at the birth center where I worked. I reached the same moment of "I'm not sure I can do this", but this time it was less of a crisis and more of just a question. An epidural was not an option. A warm, comforting jacuzzi tub was. I was surrounded by my loving husband, Gabe's mom (I wanted the live prayer this time!) and peaceful, supportive friends, nurses and midwives, including a dear friend who was a student midwife who I think was more nervous about the whole thing than I was. But what I recall most clearly was Gabe looking me in the eyes and saying "This won't take you very long." I believed him. And his confidence in me through the rest of my labor upheld me. With the first I think he was upstaged by the drama of medical intervention; with the second, I desperately needed his support and he was there. It still took longer than I wished, and was definitely more painful than the first birth. Yet the experience of giving birth with such comfort and encouragement, finding a way through the pain instead of around it, has stayed with me.

You can imagine which route we are choosing for #3. :-)

I say all of this to grasp hold of a spiritual truth. The closer you draw to God, the more opposition you will encounter. The more you allow Jesus to live and work through you, the more the Enemy will attack. The closer you are to victory over an sin or stronghold in your life, the more you will feel you can never overcome it. If you could only see the sun about to rise on the horizon!

We are finding this to be true in our lives and covet your prayers and words of encouragement. As we get established here, finding a church family, ways to serve, getting used to homeschooling, feeling a little like "Maybe we can do this after all!", the enemy has been attacking us from within. We find ourselves impatient with the kids and lacking the strength to love each other as we wish we could. We are discouraged. We need Divine intervention. And perhaps to remember that it is only Christ who can do anything through us, not we ourselves.

I know I'm dating myself here:-), but I first heard Rich Mullins sing this at a concert my freshman year in college, and still find it incredibly encouraging:



Interestingly, I have witnessed countless births right at sunrise :-) May you be encouraged that the dawn is near in your life if you are walking in darkness today. Thank you for your prayers and encouragment.

Love,
Bonnie



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grandma Ledford's 4 year Birthday in Heaven

***reposted from last year


THREE YEARS ago today, my mom left this world behind for a far greater glory. Even though we know she's entered eternity with Jesus, we still miss her immensely. We keep forgetting we can't just call her and get her all excited about the silliest things. We can't recycle the same jokes every 9 months when she's gone and forgotten them. We won't be reading any more of her outrageous misspellings. We aren't able to simply ask her opinion about health insurance or tattoos and receive 18 thoroughly researched pages on the subject 3 days later. She won't be flying here to help us with the new baby, leaving essentials out of her luggage so she can bring tools and work on the apartment while babysitting the kids, making meals, and generally running circles around us. She won't be waking up in the middle of the night to pray for us, just in case the dream she just had was the handiwork of the Holy Spirit. I don't know how we're going to make it without her...

She couldn't leave us without getting the last word, of course. 



If you aren't sure where you're going to spend eternity, you will be making a decision after reading this. You will either choose to ignore these words and continue your current course, which will result in death, or you will choose life.

My mom chose life, and it made all the difference.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Faith and Feelings

2 Corinthians 5:6-8

New International Version (NIV)
" 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord."

Picking blackberries on the airport
So here we are in Eatonville, Washington, finally "settling in" a little. We arrived three weeks ago,and today we are finally signing the lease on our townhouse! Our new friends Dan and Jeannie Mulkey, who run Trinity Aviation Academy, have graciously let us stay with them while we've searched and waited on the Lord to find us a temporary dwelling here :-). Staying in their cozy basement and cooking in Jeannie's wonderful kitchen and just having a "home" these last few weeks has been a blessing beyond what I could have imagined or asked for.


Basement camping at its finest!


We've settled into something of a schedule; Gabe gets up and heads across the yard to the hangar/classrooms for prayer and pilot/mechanic training, the kids and I roll out of bed a little later :-), get breakfast and do home school. We're all done with school by early afternoon so have time to run errands. Then we eat dinner with the Mulkeys, taking turns with the cooking, followed by a lap or two around the runway to work off all the delicious food, and settle in for a peaceful evening. Mostly.

We're also starting to get to know the community; Sammy started Cub Scouts and loves it, I found a midwife who I think will be a good fit for us, and we're trying out churches to see where we're called to serve. I'm anxious to see what the local Mom's Club is all about and meet some local moms. We also checked out the Puyallup Fair with our friends Tad and Hope Henry, missionaries serving here at the school with YWAM. Lots of fun!

It's still an adjustment. The kids and I particularly miss our friends in Tucson and at Calvary Chapel Christian School. It's cold and sometimes rainy and I didn't leave enough warm clothes out in the packing frenzy(silly Arizonans!). No one seems to mind though. It's also green and dazzlingly beautiful when the sun comes out with stunning views of nearby Mt. Rainier.

Berry Booty
I look at all the blessings around us, how our needs are met above and beyond every day and wonder, what was I so worried about? You see, I have a confession to make. I didn't want to come here. Every emotion and feeling in me fought against it from the day Gabe quit his job to the day we arrived. I cried almost every day. I prayed and sought the Lord, found temporary peace, and then was overwhelmed again with grief and loss for all we were leaving behind. A strong church with excellent Bible teaching. A wonderful Christian school for the kids. Amazing friends. Financial security. Health insurance. A house I loved in a neighborhood I loved. A good life. But....

I couldn't deny the call out of all that. I couldn't deny the call on Gabe's heart to missions and as hard as I tried to deny the call on mine because of my emotions, it was there. In the rare moments I could set my feelings aside and return to what I knew to be true, that this was how Jesus was calling us to "pick up our cross daily and follow Him", I had peace. Of course, the part that I didn't understand was how that was supposed to be "an easy yoke and a light burden" at the same time. It didn't feel easy. Leaving all that He had given us in Tucson behind was incredibly hard.

Then today I read this in "Streams in the Desert" by L.B. Cowman:
"By faith, not by appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us."


"When we face these precious facts and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings."

Wow. Why didn't I find this six weeks ago when I was freaking out? Probably because I would have missed the truth that He has now enabled me to see so clearly. And as I look back on the rough time it was getting here, I can also see His faithfulness and His grace. I was never alone. He gave Gabe an amazing amount of strength to carry us into this walking by faith and to carry me when I was weak. God is faithful, no matter what our feelings.

Be Blessed :-)
Bonnie

View from our new backyard


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Move

The Move
If there was only one thing we could take away from this experience so far, it would be "Trust God." He knew we needed to learn that first, especially considering the hardships that are yet to come, so in lesson after lesson, we were reminded to simply put our trust in him.


We held our first moving sale early in August. We asked God to help rid us of the weeds in our life: those things that distract us from loving and following Jesus. I know Tucson is one of the best places to hold a yard sale, but even given that, the amount of our excess that moved that day was amazing. Very little was left over, and our neighbors remarked that they had never seen as many cars in our neghborhood as showed up that day.

We continued to reduce our load, anticipating a second yard sale, and realizing that it wasn't all going to fit in a 16-foot storage container. On one particular afternoon, when Gabe was feeling discouraged and prayed for some confirmation, he sold 4 items on Craigslist within the next hour...items that hadn't had interest in weeks.


Gabe also put his car up for sale, pricing it just at Bluebook, neither high nor low, as a question to God: is this something you want us to sacrifice? It was a question very closely related to
Boo
Cowanother: where are we going to live? If we sell the car, we will probably need to live close enough for Gabe to ride a bike to the airport.

The car sold, but there was even a lesson to be learned in that. The titling of the car had slipped through the cracks while Gabe was in Afghanistan, and on the day he was to make the deal, he couldn't find it. Panic! But, wait, we can just get a new one from the MVD. The trip was made, the MVD searched, but no title. It was still titled in Wyoming! Panic! Call Wyoming, find out that a duplicated title would need the bank's release of lien...3 days in the mail to receive, 3 more to send to WY...and then an 11-day waiting period...another 3-4 days in the mail...Panic! God must be saying "no." Text from Bonnie to Gabe: "I love you. Persevere." Those were the words God gave her, so Gabe persevered. 20 minutes later, in a file box with some other odds and ends he'd never seen before, Gabe suddenly found an unmarked envelope containing the Wyoming title, sent while he was still deployed. The next day, the car was gone.





Then the POD came.


The Move, Part 2

The Move 2 The POD.

This gadget is particularly interesting to people who like gadgets. The POD delivery system is a wonder of hydraulics, chains, levers, lifts, and motorized wheels. It deftly deposited a 16-ft storage container in our 20-ft driveway, and then the panic began. There was NO WAY POSSIBLE to
PODload everything that remained in that and a small U-Haul trailer. Alternatives were discussed, but none were appealing. Bonnie's pregnant, and doesn't feel up to driving by herself if Gabe rents a truck, and there's not enough room in a truck for everybody if we tow the car. What to do?

Trust God.


We prayed simply that he would bend the "laws" of physics and make everything just fit. And to prune from us what would not. In the end, there was nothing discarded that would be missed.


And then there were the helpers. God sent some incredible people to help us. They did it because they love God, and because they wanted to show their love for us. They packed boxes, loaded POD and trailers, cleaned our house, worked on our irrigation system, hauled rocks, dumped garbage, donated our excess, lent us their vehicles, prayed with us, housed us, fed us, blessed us, and showed us incredible love. They were truly the body of Christ.

Moving Guys

The Moving Guys

Throughout the last month, the spiritual war has been raging. It got more intense the closer we got to the trip. Bonnie was the usual target, and more vulnerable because of her pregnancy, but even Gabe broke down under the strain as we drove away. It was like a cloud of depression suddenly settled over him, and he was unable to see the light.  Tears of sorrow streamed down his face (making it difficult to drive) as he confessed that while he could believe that God loved him, he didn't feel like God had ever particularly liked him.


As if to dissuade even this doubt, God smoothed out almost every external bump in the trip. He gave us a second day of rest on the Oregon Coast. He helped us get to every destination on time, allowed us no mechanical breakdowns, kept us safe on mountain roads and in crazy traffic (with an overloaded u-haul trailer!), and delivered us to
Trinity Aviation Academy, the formal name for a few folks called by God to produce missionary pilot/mechanics.

And so, we have arrived. We would almost equate the last month to labor pains, but that would imply the pain was now over. Instead, we anticipate the enemy's increased efforts to make us ineffective and mediocre. The only defense we have is the armor of God and your prayers. There is nothing else you can give us that is more important and effective. Thank you.



OR Coast Bonnie
& Kids

Gabe and Bonnie, September 8, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Purging and Packing

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." – James 4:13-15

Through several reassurances from the Lord, we understand His will to be that we continue moving forward with a plan to arrive in Eatonville, Washington sometime shortly after Labor Day.

Bonnie has felt very reluctant to proceed with such short notice, and without a defined mission of her own (except to support me, once again). After being counseled by a pastor from our church, she felt much better about the role she perceives she's been given. Only a few days later, though, all the doubt and anxiety crept right back in. The conclusion we are driven to is that this is exactly what is meant in the Bible by "fiery darts," those thoughts and doubts that don't actually originate in our minds, but are inserted there by the devil's minions to divert, distract, and demoralize (Eph 6:10-20).

I have been fighting some of the same battles internally, feeling discouraged on some days and losing sight of the goal (Jesus), for no apparent reason. The passage from Ephesians, mentioned above, discusses putting on the full armor of God. One of these elements is the shield* of faith, with which we extinguish the devil's fiery darts. I am beginning to believe that the assignment of spiritual property to each piece of armor is not random – faith is the perfect defense against the invading discouragement.

Yet, God has been abundantly merciful and continues to bolster us through the troughs. For instance, immediately (ie, minutes) after praying for some encouragement, I received several calls for items I had for sale on Craigslist. When Bonnie was feeling negative about the difficulties of the next few years, we received great encouragement from a pastor. When I was feeling negative and alone, my friends were there for me. And after our first (very successful) moving sale, our neighbor said he'd never seen so many cars at a sale in our neighborhood. That's God.

Trusting that God has a plan for everything, we plow on ahead. So, putting our hope in him, Screen Shot 2011-08-13 at 8.13.28 PMwe have tentatively made plans for the trip and reservations for stops along the way.

Should life unfold according to this particular plan, we will leave Tucson on Saturday, September 3. Our first stop will be San Bernardino, California. On Sunday, we tackle LA traffic (hopefully light on a Sunday Holiday morning), and end the day in Redding. On Labor Day, we have a shorter drive and a break on the Oregon coast at a cabin in Umqua Lighthouse State Park. On Tuesday, we hope to reach our destination.


We've reserved a POD for whatever remains. Whatever doesn't fit in a 16-ft container will have to find a new home. And, in about 2½ years, we hope to have The Great Moving Sale #2, disposing of the rest of our "treasures".

My fun-car is for sale. Craigslist - 16 Quite literally, it's a question for God: is this something You want me to sacrifice? I have priced it reasonably, neither high nor low, in order to take my own desires out of the picture, and wait on Him to provide an answer. It makes me think of this passage from Mark, after Jesus tells the rich young ruler to sell everything and follow him: "But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions." Ahh…I've had some "great possessions"…

…all of which will burn in the end. So what are they really worth?

-Gabe

*Edit: This said "helmet" for well over a year, which just goes to show that I ain't the sharpest bulb in the drawer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Idols

And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ “ (Judges 7:2)

At the beginning of this journey, Bonnie and I looked at all the obstacles in the way of God’s direction to go “soon,” and knew it would take Divine intervention to make it all happen. The aviation/mechanic training begins the second full week of September. We had the option of waiting to go in January, but felt that only our fear of not having enough time for the move held us back. We gave that fear to God, and feel more at peace about September.

From that viewpoint, Bonnie and I have taken the steps to ready ourselves for the earlier departure. I gave my notice at work, and will be working my last day on July 29. Bonnie’s getting things together for charity and yard sales. I’ve put all of my energies into working on the yard, the kitchen (tiling project that’s been sitting there for ages), and eBay, Craigslist, and Freecycle to rid us of our years of accumulated distractions.

And yet, I find myself drifting away from worship and communion with the One who started all of this. Why? Am I not doing all of this for Him?

I find my struggle lies with idolatry. We were made to worship. We can’t avoid it. We worship 24/7/365. But, what is the object of our worship? What occupies that top slot in our thinking, our actions, our energy? I just told you what has been occupying all of my time and energy. Once again, I have placed the created above the Creator. God has blessed us with a calling to bring the gospel to the unreached, and I’ve turned that calling into my idol.

Can you just imagine the Lord standing there patiently, maybe tapping his foot, saying to me “So....remember that one time when you said I was going to have to do the work here? Are you planning on stepping aside any time soon? Are you going to claim the glory, saying your own hand has saved you?”

I’m already exhausted. I’m grumpy with my family. I fear not being able to accomplish every task that needs accomplishing. My prayers are nearly non-existant, my devotions are suffering, and I feel further from communion with God than when He first called me, and that’s saying something.

Satan is tricky - he’s insidious. His minions know my personality, and how best to get to me. They know I feel unworthy of this calling, and that I want to earn God’s grace through work. But, that’s the funny thing about grace - it’s undeserved favor, so I CAN’T earn it. But, by getting me to focus on the work, rather than the One Who Saves, I am made ineffective for Christ. I keep forgetting my place on the vine: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) In focusing on Christ, I will bear fruit. The reverse does not apply: I cannot hope to grow closer to Christ by trying to bear fruit through my own work.

Lord, turn me from these idols, I want to worship you. However you wish to use me, I want to be used, but only with you as my focus. I know you have a plan for all the rest; don’t let me be distracted by worry, doubt, the timetable, or the insurmountable tasks ahead. Like Peter’s experience in walking to meet you on the water, I know we’ll be just fine as long as we keep our eyes on you. Thank you for your promises, and your unfailing faithfulness in keeping those promises. Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Introducing Bonnie

I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to put my thoughts on here…I guess a combination of 3 vacations/family trips in the last month and lacking the profound words and spiritual insight of the previous posts' author J but I'll give it my best.

Every morning since this all started, I wake up and find myself asking the Lord yet again "Really? Us? Are You sure?" I'm amazed at His patience, but honestly, we are the most unlikely candidates for this calling. I am incredibly thankful, excited, and blessed by it, but at the same time, terrified. Terrified we'll screw it up (mostly me).  Terrified I won't rely on the Lord and trust Him like I need to get us from a 2000 sq. ft house of stuff in Tucson to a much smaller place in WA in the next 6 weeks. Terrified He's asking me to homeschool this year (seems likely).

I also feel we are completely spiritually unprepared, and it's our own fault. We attend a megachurch Calvary Chapel here in Tucson and have been richly blessed by great teaching, worship, Bible studies, Sunday school, VBS, and a Christian school for our kids. Yet when I look at what we have given to the church here, it has been very little. We've volunteered here and there, inconsistently at best. Mostly we've just been spectators. God is so gracious that He has blessed us with some wonderful relationships and been able to bless some others far beyond what we have given, and for that, I'm thankful. Just in the last few months, right before Gabe had his calling to missionary aviation, we both finally stopped ignoring the conviction to serve more in our local Body of Christ and actually have tried to get involved in more things. I can say for sure that if we are delayed in our move for any reason, we will be doing more for the Kingdom here. But meanwhile, we have no real ministry or experience in service or missionary work outside our normal daily lives. We've been selfish. So to receive a calling to something like missionary work is humbling and makes you really wonder about this great God we serve. He seems to favor making us fly by the seat of our pants and trust Him or something J

Today I was reminded of Moses and the burning bush (Exodus 3-4, esp vv 3:10-12, 4:10-12). Basically Moses knew God saved him from being slaughtered as an infant for something, but he was hiding in the desert and hoping God had forgotten about him since he blew it by murdering an Egyptian. And he really didn't like to be put in a position of leadership or talking in front of people. At All. None of that mattered to God though.  He found Moses right where he was, completely unprepared to lead Israel out of Egypt and told him to Go and Trust. Moses could have said no, and God would have raised up someone else; in fact, He did let Moses' brother Aaron speak for him but He wasn't happy with Moses' lack of faith. Another story I love is Esther (Esther 4:10-17). Here she was, beautiful wife but captive of a Babylonian king who didn't know she was Jewish. And God called her to speak up and save her people. She was afraid at first too, but ultimately she obeyed and the Jews were saved. Point being, it's not about me or my fears or feelings of inadequacy. It's about whatever He has for me and our family.

Thanks be to Him who gives so generously of His grace, wisdom and strength to us all. And thank you for your love and prayers.
Bonnie

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Introduction - Gabe's Journey So Far

Funny that finally making Jesus the Lord of my life has led me here, considering I specifically recall being afraid in college to give in to Him because I thought He'd want me to be a missionary....

Fifteen years later, I see how foolish I've been. Since I learned about missionary aviation as a kiddo in the '80's, I've always reserved it as a goal to be reached when I retire and finally stop pursuing the baubles this world. Again, how foolish I've been! The time is now!

I remember the night that I asked Jesus to be my savior. It was in April when I was 3, and I understood my status as a sinner and my need for Christ. I didn’t understand the concept of living for Him, though, and that has been thematic all my life.

When I was 6, I remember asking God for signs that he wanted me to be a missionary, but I really just wanted the sign, not the job. I finally decided all the signs just meant that I could be a missionary to my friends. I was looking for the easy way out.

When I was 10, I decided I wanted to fly. I was going to be a jet fighter pilot, and I figured that meant I needed to be in the Air Force. “Man plans, and God laughs,” so I’ve heard. I guess that’s about right, since Psalm 33:10 says, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
 He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.”

When I was a young teen, I heard about missionaries who fly. I filed that away, because it sounded awesome, but I had my own life to live, and didn’t want to “have” to evangelize. Maybe I could put that off until retirement or something (Luke 9:59).

When I was 18, I fought God’s gentle calling to give my life over to Him, because I was specifically afraid He wanted me to be a missionary, and my “life” would be over. I was busy following my dreams (Mat 10:38-39).

When I was 21, I married a girl with whom I thought I could just “make it work”, and we drifted away from God, and each other. We fought, we tried to just get along, and we failed each other miserably.

When I was 26, my son was born, and I really knew my life was over. I felt trapped. Probably because I felt that divorce was impossible once a child was introduced into the mix.

When I was 29, my wife and I separated. The pain was palpable. We saw no way to rectify what we had destroyed. That’s what sin does – it destroys, it kills. It leads to death in relationships.

And then, God moved.

First, we reconciled to each other, but always with the knowledge that God had made it happen. Then we started attending a church together, and started to seek God. We began to put God at the center of our marriage. Still, we had a long way to go.

When I was 31, my mother, the Godliest and strongest person I knew, died of cancer. It broke my heart to watch her leave. Her life as a Christian and a prayer warrior left an empty space when she went, and it was obvious to us that she was the example we wanted to follow (2 Kings 2:9). Her departure planted a seed in the now-broken soil of my heart, and I saw anew that nothing was more important in this life than Christ.

When I was 33, my only grandparent, my mother’s father, died, leaving another hole, but the concept that our priorities needed re-arranging found fertile soil. We were so worried that Grandad might die without knowing Christ, and so relieved when he did confess Jesus, that we knew where our hearts were. We were citizens of heaven, and it was time we started acting that way (Phili 3:20).

When I was 34, I gave up. I realized I was weary of living for myself. During my drive home after a swing shift at work, I gave my life to Christ and asked Him to use me however He pleased. He began to work on my spirit.

Immediately I was restless. I felt like I was on the precipice of something, but didn’t know what.

Two months later, the Holy Spirit caught me unawares as I sat in my livingroom. The idea of dropping everything and becoming a missionary-pilot bloomed out of nowhere. The idea sounded like fantasy at first, but then I began to really test it (1 Thes 5:21). I prayed, I asked my wife and friends to pray, and then I spent a day alone with God, letting Him talk to me. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced – an actual conversation with God. He talked through scripture, and I listened and wrote down His answers.

Three weeks later, I’m writing this with humility and awe. I’ve lived my entire 34 years for myself, so I know I’m not the right person for the job. But God said, “Go.” In fact, He said “Go soon” (Rom 13:11-12). He said we would be giving up our opportunity if we did not. This is nothing more than obedience. If I don’t sound excited about it, my words lie – I am definitely excited about it. We are both excited about it. But, we want Christ alone, and if He asks us to sacrifice this dream like binding Isaac and laying him on the altar, we will do it. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (finally).

.
.
.

We're done resisting. After giving my life over to Him, the first thing God put on my heart was to use what He's blessed me with, to abandon chasing after this world’s idols, and just GO.

After seeking God's will in prayer, we know we are ready to follow Him. And He's told us to go, and to go soon. To that end, I've been looking at ways to finish what training will make me most useful to a mission board, and will be following His lead to a school either this Fall or Winter, depending on Him.

-Gabe Ledford, 6-26-2011


-Update: Looks like it will be this September, if the Lord wills it.