And He said, "Follow Me..."
Someday, when I look back on years past and highlight the growth each year brought to my journey with God, I’m sure that I will stop at the summer of 2013 and mark it as one bringing the most change in all of my teenage years.
Strangely enough, as an adult, I was more clueless about life plans than at age five. From a young age, I had my life mapped out, and was sure of God’s specific calling for this life. I pursued high school and then college with determination to complete the “necessaries” paving my way into the wide world beyond that of my home. Life swirled with business – recording music, organizing benefit concerts for my sister’s Youth for Jesus journey, finishing my last college classes, juggling an intense externship at a local family practice, and then switching to the routine of work as a medical assistant at a clinic in town. But as I adjusted to a new schedule and became more independent, I faced young dreams with a new uncertainty.
August sunshine glistened warmly off of the little white church nestled in the Connecticut valley. I sat near the front and close to the piano, as usual, and listened as a youth spoke golden words of truth that sent home the realization…
“Friends, we cannot go if God does not send us…”
That’s what I was afraid of.
I am asked to surrender my own ambition, in order to make way for the willingness that must be present in my heart to go wherever He calls. I am asked to be willing to fulfill the humblest position of a servant in this world, that His dreams be fulfilled through me. Who am I to say that that they are insignificant?
Growing up, I had great dreams to travel across the world and share the gospel with those who were thirsting for Christ. I pictured myself treading through the darkness with a light that could never be hidden nor suppressed. I longed to see chains broken, hear cries of victory, and watch the world be transformed by God’s glory.
At my current time of my life now, I imagined that I would already be in some far-off place, caring for the hurting and hopeless, serving through evangelism, and touching hearts.
But here I am, working at a small medical clinic in my home town, tempted to feel dissatisfied with my duties at home and in the clinic because it doesn’t feel like I’m doing a missionary work of any significance. This wasn’t my idea of being a missionary.
Maybe that’s why a patient’s thoughtful question almost caught me off guard.
“Do you read something inspirational every morning?”
I looked up after tossing a stethoscope around my neck, surprised.
“Why, yes,” I replied.
“I can tell,” he said thoughtfully, then continued. “What was your thought for this morning?”
Placing away a blood pressure cuff in its proper place, my mind raced with thoughts. It was taking a chance to tell him. One patient’s complaint could severely damage my prospects as the clinic’s new medical assistant. Who had ever been so forthright about their religion in this establishment? But I saw that he was in earnest, waiting expectantly.
“Through being faithful in the little things and serving others, I have the opportunity to point them to true happiness and hope.” My voice slowed, savoring the thought that I actually dared to continue on… “The happiness that can only be found in God.”
Following that experience as days and weeks passed, I found more opportunities to share my faith. I saw people clasped in heavy chains openly struggling for freedom and truth, while others were hiding behind a mask of smiles but carried heavy burdens on their empty hearts.
And slowly I realized that while I had been waiting for young dreams to come true, He had already placed me in a mission field. He called me to let go of future dreams that I might concentrate on the here and now. Live in singleness for His glory. And trust that I could go anywhere, absolutely anywhere, He sent me.
What if He does not send you across the world? What if “go” means go to your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, and the stranger on the street in your hometown, until the whole world is flooded with light?
He may still have that place for me in India, or China, or South America someday, but the realization hits me that my mission-field is my corner – whoever that includes, wherever I am.
Sometimes it is as if I’m walking through the darkness with my little candle, hoping that others see it’s shining. I pray for the chains to be broken from the pain and hurting I see on many faces, and find songs of victory on my lips as I realize this: I don’t have to stand here, waiting for the dreams of tomorrow, when He has given me riches of blessing today.
I stand in an exam room, realizing that God sent me to my home town.
The man sitting in front of me pauses, thoughtful deep brown eyes looking up.
“Tell me of Saul on the road to Damascus. I haven’t heard that story before…”
And so I tell him. I describe how the persecutor in all of his self-righteousness thinks that he is working for God, when in fact he is fighting against Him. Prepared to destroy, he is stopped on a pathway to fall helpless in a blinding light.
‘“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”’ I recount Christ’s words, marveling at a new meaning to the ageless story, suddenly touched by the tender pathos of Jesus’ cry. I continue, ‘“You’re kicking against the pricks.” Then, Saul saw the nail marks in Jesus’ hands, and knew that it was the Lord. God is speaking to us, but all too often we shut up our hearts from listening. Just as Saul kicked against the pricks on the road to Damascus, trying to drown out the voice of conviction.”
The man is all ears, eyes riveted on mine. “A lesson for us today.”
There’s no reason why I cannot dream for Him in my hometown. Nothing makes this place less of a mission field than China, or India, or South America.
It is in the here and now that we are the missionaries.
Let us dream for God, but at the same time be willing to adopt His dreams if they conflict with our own. His are the sweetest.
He said “follow me,” so I surrender.