The Myth of a White Picket Fence – Part One

by Levi Benkert on November 30, 2012

White picket fences– I am not a big fan. I’m more of a modernist when it comes to architecture; I see them as a bit of a antiquity in the design department.  But we’re talking about a different kind of white picket fence today.

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So many people have come up to me and boldly said,  “God told me to sell everything and __________” I can almost hear the painful sting as those haunting words pass over their lips. Until recently, I have felt unqualified to to speak into someone’s life just a few moments after meeting them.

After months of praying about it, and thinking it through, I actually do have something to say to anyone who feels that they are called to more.

This post is for everyone who feels that God has called them to “sell everything and _______”, but I must warn you, this is not a program for following Christ the easy way.

This missionary gig is tough! But I tell you one thing that I know to be true; if you feel God calling, you better get on with it now because it is only going to get harder as time goes on.  And so I offer up this list today for anyone who has heard the call to more.

1. The problem with white picket fences

Security isn’t real, it’s an illusion we created to make us feel safe. The truth is, if God wants us to stay safe He will keep us safe, and if He wants us to struggle, then struggle we will, no matter what kind of security blankets we have built around our perfect little lives.

I should know, I once owned a 30 million dollar business, bought the most expensive house in our city, and had millions in the bank. Only to watch it all slip away from my grip in mere months.  Security is an illusion.

God gave us this gift: Life. Then He comes along and asks for it back and like defiant little children we stomp our feet and we scream, “Mine!”

Then we saunter off and try to create something better than what He planned for us, because we think we can do a better job than He can. We think He is going to ask us to do something “unsafe” and we make believe that we are in control.

 2. How many missionaries is too many?  

When I talk about missionaries I am not talking only about people who move overseas. Maybe your mission field is right there in front of you. As Christians we need to start seeing ourselves as ready-to-go “missionaries” of God’s, who aren’t holding back anything from Him. There are never enough missionaries.

Christian = Missionary. There should be no distinction.

What this world of His needs is more people who see their stuff as expendable, and their life as a valuable gift that we give back to Him out of thankfulness.

Many of us are scared that He will ask us to “sell everything” but the truth is He already did.

Luke 12:33 spells it out just as plainly as possible.

“Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.”

I can already see many of you squirming in your comfy chairs, wondering if maybe Levi went off the deep end.

“Do I even know who this crazy guy is who is trying to tell me to sell everything I own?”

No, you likely don’t know me. If you are anything like me, though, God uses people in our lives to give us the nudge we need. Today might be one of those times.

Should we go list everything we own on Craigslist? Yes and no.

Maybe we don’t need to physically get rid of everything that we own, but we need to start living as though it were all worthless. If something that we own is more valuable to us than He is, then we should get rid of it.

Ouch! It hurts, but there is another side to the pain.

“And He said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.”” Luke 22:35

The flip side of selling everything? We will in turn lack, “nothing”!

 3. The Black Hole. 

The conversation goes all over the map when it comes to the “why not?” For some it is the fear of family, what might they say, or think about such a crazy move. For others it is the fear of failure. For others it is more about the technical aspects.

Either way, we must not get stuck in this place. When we feel the call, our first reaction needs to be to bury ourselves deep into Him, and keep moving forward.

This is the season that I call The Black Hole, because so-so many get stuck here and never go another step.

I pray for you if you are here today, not because I see myself as above you, but because I have spent many years in this place and I feel your pain, I often return here.

My punch card is full from so many Black Hole visits.

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Come back tomorrow for the second part of this talk of White Picket Fences. Before you go… the top of this site says “Missions Conversation”. You are invited into the conversation, share where you are at, make this your community, let us know if you are getting ready to jump off the cliff, or maybe you are stuck in the black hole and need a hand up.  We are here for you!

Levi Benkert — Ethiopia. work: Bring Love In  book: No Greater Love blog: www.LeviBenkert.com

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  • Totally just sent this to two couples contemplating full time missions! thank you so much for your words! It’s such a crazy wonderful journey this walking with God!

  • Thank you for your post. Perfect timing in our world where God is leading us towards the ‘more’, and soon! Absolute word from Him, through you, for us!

  • Shannon

    Very encouraging to read as my family has felt God’s call to leave everything we have to go and serve Him. We’ve been praying for God to send us out and He brought us to Colorado for ministry training and now we have the opportunity of serving in Mongolia. When you were called overseas, did you have an excitement at first and then suddenly the excitement subsided and it was just left to stepping out in faith? I guess I feel like I might be in a black hole right now.

    • Levi Benkert

      Great question. Yes I think everyone goes through a phase of “wow I am really doing this now” and it gets tough there. I say lean hard into the word. Seek out the freedom found in Him and try to dwell there instead of on all you are loosing in your life at this moment. It’s not easy!

  • annie

    Thank you for this Biblical truth! Such encouragement for our family!

  • Stephanie Powell

    Thanks, Levi, this is great encouragement…I think I am in a time of transition possibly on my way to this. Definitely being moved by God to not have encumbrances that would keep me from moving in any direction that he would say.

    • Levi Benkert

      It is so important to identify the things that stand in our way isn’t it? I love reading that you are moving forward. Love it!

  • I really appreciated this:

    “Christian = Missionary. There should be no distinction.

    What this world of His needs is more people who see their stuff as expendable, and their life as a valuable gift that we give back to Him out of thankfulness.

    Many of us are scared that He will ask us to ‘sell everything’ but the truth is He already did….”

    God appears to be changing our direction – my husband is clearly hearing go… I’m not hearing much of anything. So I find these words challenging, scary and encouraging, all at once.

    Thanks, Levi!

  • This was great Levi. Thanks. I gave it all up once to become a missionary. Then decided I wanted it back. Then He reminded me who I was and asked me to give it all up again. I was afraid and stuck…and, frankly, angry with Him…at first. But as soon as I recognized that all the things I was clinging to were really unhealthy illusions any way, it was so easy to step into this life again, a better and more realistic missionary because of the process. Great thoughts here.

    • Levi Benkert

      Colleen. I love this! I can relate to the back and forth struggle and finally realizing that what He was offering you all along made your desires look pale and puny.

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