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).

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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.