Entering into the picture at that juncture was a renewed sense of who God is and how precious life is. I lost a good friend and another acquaintance due to auto accidents within weeks of each other. Plus, due to circumstances largely out of my hands, my life as I knew it was fraying faster than I could cope and I began asking myself very hard questions, questions that still pop up whenever I begin talking about what I want to do with my life. And a verse that hounds me even today is found in Isaiah 55:2 which begins with “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (NASB) I might have taken some liberties there when it smacked me in the face, but really, when it came down to brass tacks, I wanted to go study for me, and study in a field that I find terribly fun but really isn’t going to give true meaning to anyone’s life necessarily, including my own.
Fast forward, I am in Bible college, a missions student and doing well in my classes overall. I wanted to learn everything about everything and crammed in as much as I could. But I wasn’t going anywhere with it, per se. I was just acquiring knowledge. A good friend called me out on it and said I wasn’t there to learn and hoard it for myself; I was there to learn so I could teach it to others. It was a hard pill to swallow, but he was right. He saw right through me.
Now don’t think that after graduating I didn’t toy with the prospect of what I would need for that English degree that would send me in the direction I wanted to go. Nothing ever seemed to pan out, but I didn’t want to let go of my plans. God eventually had to say to me, “Give it up.” Did He provide some other personal goal right away? No. In fact, I had to *gasp* concentrate on what I was already doing, which was working with teens who I deeply cared about at a church and helping to teach them those things I learned in college and through my own life.
I still have goals that have nothing to do with being a church planter or official missionary. I still would like to teach, but the field, audience and place have changed drastically. But I have also embraced the fact that if it is in line with God’s will, it will work out and if it isn’t, it won’t. God will be the one to provide the outlet for how and where I teach. If I never complete graduate studies (and yes, I want to very much), I am not a failure.
My goal at 15 involved prestigious universities and excelling in academia. Instead I went to a small Bible college that had only recently become accredited and learned invaluable lessons about God, myself and the world. At 17, if you would have said I was moving to France to help plant churches, I would have laughed. I possibly still would have laughed at 25. God crashed into my fears and prejudices head on and suddenly I felt convicted that going to France was in the plans, so I’d best prepare. My values and God’s are often at odds. I’m willing to guess that yours have been or are as well. I still find myself doing stupid things that God said no about because, well, I feel like it. Some days it is very hard to live the life I know I should. But I simply could not walk away from His call to France, which hit me in a place so deep I knew I wasn’t making things up. I’ve been incredibly blessed by embracing it and there is a sense of peace there that no exciting old tome could ever provide.
Again I found Him saying to me:
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.” (Isaiah 55:2, NASB)
May God show you what is good and what is empty, what is for Him and what is just for you. May He reveal what is in your heart and give peace and satisfaction where He is pleased and conviction where you have been selfish. May we all aspire to do what He has equipped us to do, no matter how great or small it looks to our peers.
Yesterday was full of many tears as we said our au revoirs to dear friends at the church we’ve called home for 11 years. But au revoir doesn’t mean goodbye;
it means “see you later”.