By Mary Ballenger
Richard and I, along with two of our three children, George and Sally, first came to Mongolia in October 2001 for a 2-week short-term mission trip. It was during that 2 week period of time that God placed in our hearts a love for the Mongolian people and a desire to return. Richard, George and Sally were supportive of the call that God was giving the four of us. I, on the other hand, was only partially in. I wondered if a major move to another country would ruin our children. George and Sally were teenagers at that point. How could we separate them from their friends, their school, their youth group, their premiere soccer leagues/ basketball teams and all the things that are important to teens? What about our older son, John, who was a student at Oral Roberts University? What was his future? Would we be separating the family too much? All these thoughts kept hitting my Mommy brain.
We were at the point of needing to commit and be “all in” or “all out” by saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Christian Veterinary Mission and to Mongolia. If we said yes, we needed to get serious about raising support, selling our many possessions and moving ahead. I was waiting for a Word directly from God before I would say yes, but I was not hearing anything from God. My friends would say things like, “I had a dream last night and I saw you in Mongolia.” Or another friend would say, “I saw something on TV last night about Mongolia and know that you will be there soon.” I got to the point that as I would go to bed each night, I would announce to God that I was turning off the light and He could give me a dream confirming a move to Mongolia. I would wake up very discouraged the next morning because I slept perfectly with no dreams. How frustrating! “God, do you not know where I am?” I would tell Him.
While living in Tulsa, OK, we were surrounded with wonderful Christian radio stations and Christian television. I would listen intently to Christian programs and music for a Word from God. But no Word came specifically for me. Again, how frustrating! But every time I would open my Bible and read a passage, a chapter, or a story, the words clearly said, “GO”. That did not seem good enough. I thought I needed a “Samuel experience” or writing on the wall. I felt I needed more than God’s words in the Bible.
One morning after a dreamless night of rest, everyone was off to work and school and I pulled out the ironing board and clicked my way through Christian TV Channels for a word from God. I sighed as a sermon from a Singles conference started. “What can I learn from this,” I scoffed. “I am married!” I ironed and halfheartedly listened to his message. Near the end of his sermon, he pointed to the camera and said firmly, “Do you know what your problem is?” NOW, he had my attention. I stood the iron upright and stared at the television. He went on to say, “Your problem is that you are trying to figure God out with your head and you can’t do it. You must listen to God with your heart and with the Word of God.” I collapsed on the couch in tears. Yes, I had been trying to figure out God totally with my head. And it wasn’t working.
That same day Richard and I had a lunch scheduled with one of our dear missionary friends to ask her advice on us possibly moving to Mongolia. During the lunch she pointed her finger at me and said, “Mary, do you know what your problem is? You are trying to figure God out with your head and you can’t do it!” I cried my way through that lunch as our dear missionary friend stroked my arm saying “Oh Mary, I am sorry.” (Years later I was finally able to tell her why I was crying.) God really spoke to me in that moment, and not in the way that I had imagined it would be. He had been speaking to me every time I opened my Bible and the Holy Spirit would gently say, “Go”. But my head, my mind would always get in my way.
Does your head get in your way at times like mine? If these words speak to you, take some advice from me and stop trying to figure God out with your head. Listen to Him through your heart and follow His peace. Let His peace guide you.
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Richard and Mary Ballenger partner with Mongolia V.E.T. Net NGO, a Mongolian public service organization. The mission of V.E.T. Net is to develop and train veterinarians and educators to network services across the country of Mongolia and share the hope that is within them.