- Frederick Buechner
When I headed off to Bible college, the biggest question on my mind was "What is God's specific will for my life?" I knew a few things to start: I felt led to go to Bible college, I felt led to pursue a missions degree, and I had seen the need in Europe firsthand. (Note that this is me who will dither for an hour over what flavor ice cream to get if there are 2 that I like. Big things though, no sweat!) But I wanted a piece of paper with a timeline and dates and the big things circled in red pen. I wanted to know the who, when and where all in advance. I wanted to MAKE PLANS. I actually have a really hard time staying focused on something without a solid, written-on-paper-for-the-ages plan.
The funny thing about how God works, though, is that we don't get handed this magical paper. I guess, if I had known the future, I could have seen that Kontaktmission brochure as a HEY THIS IS IT paper, but I tucked it in a drawer for future reference. Eventually I forgot about it, more or less, but this burden I had for Europe never went away. In fact, when people talked about Europe, it was always one of the first things that popped into my mind. And for the last several years when people asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I said two things: be a missionary in Europe and get a PhD so I can teach at a college. (We'll see what happens with #2. I've set the bar high and said I have til I'm 50 to do it, haha.) The idea of missions work in Europe has always come with some mixed reactions. Don't we need people in America? And why would you ever leave America? Isn't it scary to go somewhere different? Yes, people in America need ministered to. Yes, it's a little scary to go somewhere different.
So with that in mind, here is a little something I've learned along the way:
Not everyone is going to necessarily share your vision. And that's ok.
Let me put it another way. If you're passionate about something, you're not always going to understand others who aren't and they might not always understand you. You might even be tempted to get frustrated at these people. After all, how can they not see this need the way you do?
Take heart though, because this is perfectly normal. In fact, instead of getting discouraged, you should be glad for it. Maybe it means that you've found something that you should pursue. Maybe it means that you should seek out like-minded people and band together to accomplish what's on your heart. God made us passionate about different things and gave us different strengths and abilities. Sometimes the only reason something is going undone is because we ourselves haven't been willing to step out on faith and get it going. While I really feel that we need to encourage all kinds of ministries even if we are unable to be a part of them, if something is really on our hearts we should do what we can to be personally invested in it. We have to become less afraid of failure and more interested in trying. After all, what is "failure" if what you do helps even one person?
I've been asked "So what? You think you're going to go to France and change the world?" My response was pretty simple. "No, I don't think I'm going to change the world. But I might impact one person's life. And anyway, it's God who changes people, not me." Who am I to think that I can go do something great on my own? But none of us knows what God will do through us simply because we were willing to go and do.
So whatever need is weighing on your heart, see what you can do about it. Really try. Be unafraid and unabashed. Give it everything you have. The world is a big place with hundreds of needs. Maybe you are the person who has been chosen to meet that need. There may be others who will take a stand with you and they just lacked the courage or know-how. You'll never know until you take that chance.
So what has God burdened YOU with?