During the formative years of my life, my family served as missionaries in Venezuela. I remember the day like it was yesterday that my mom and dad sat my sister and me down to tell us we had been approved with the International Mission Board to serve there. I was 10. I was also at the “cut off” age allowed for missionaries to be approved if they had a child my age.
I wish I could say my reaction was one of excitement and anticipation…except, it wasn’t. I raced upstairs, sat in the floor of our guest bedroom and proceeded to dial the phone to call my best friend and ask if I could come and live with her. I could not imagine leaving a life I had become comfortable living to go somewhere I knew nothing about. An extremely introverted child, it was unfathomable to me that I would want to even break out of this nice box I’d been living in.
Have you heard, though? It generally doesn’t go well when any child throws a tantrum, so my tactics to chain myself to the house, or go live with my best friend, or even go into hiding somewhere didn’t work at all. My family packed up everything and moved first to Costa Rica for language school, later moving to Caracas, Venezuela until I graduated high school and moved back to attend school at Charleston Southern.
You can probably guess that my reaction to a new life was basically a foreshadowing of what was to come. I did not ease right into it. In fact, little did I know it was the makings of a story God was writing over my life. We’ve all heard it, “God is in the details”. He was in every single detail of my new life. It took me years to uncover it, however.
Have you ever struggled with your calling? We probably all have. If we ever allow ourselves to fall in a comparison trap, we’ve probably all thought someone else could do a better job, tell a better story of life change, or was more “spiritual” than we are. The enemy likes to riddle our lives with a lot of second guessing and doubts that we are enough. Years of my own life have vanished, it seems, over believing God can use me – a stay at home mom, a missionary kid, a pastor’s wife, one who has lived a pretty “by the Book” life. We question where we fit into all of God’s big picture. As a young preteen and teen, God used a life far away from what was comfortable and familiar to give a very clear picture that back then, He had not just called my mom and dad, but He had also called me to be a missionary. A perspective change then offers a perspective change now – that no one is unusable when God has changed our lives. The pretty amazing thing is that God uses moments of INTERSECTION in each of our lives, no matter how long we’ve been His child, to draw us unto Himself. Every step God takes in our lives always asks the question, “Will you surrender?” Our part is always looking intentionally for His hand and simply obeying.
As a 16 year old girl growing up in Venezuela I could write pages and pages of just how God drew me to Himself to realize that He had called me to live out a life of obedience. He used so many people and so many experiences to shape that in me, but what I believe we can all take away from these moments of intersection in our lives is that they are always there, and they are always leading us to a call of obedience. Today, as a woman in ministry, these things alone are what I hold the most dear. Why? When the moments of intersection in our lives come…and they will come…it’s being sure that we are listening to His voice and walking in obedience that helps us see that our personal callings and ministries make look different in each season.
As a teenager discovering God had indeed called me to serve with my family, I fleshed that out often in how I loved people, in how I served them and in how I simply shared life with them. As a mom who stayed home the majority of my daughters’ lives, I began to see my ministry and calling often happened in the grocery store line where I could share the love of Jesus through a smile, paying for the groceries of someone in line behind me or maybe, and most importantly, in how I invested in the lives of my children. The investment I made in their lives often felt minimal, but as I now watch them grow older, I see that investment as bigger than any calling I could ever have in my life.
As I move out into a new season of being less of a stay at home parent, and move toward serving side by side with my husband as a pastor’s wife, I draw back on those days of being a teenager in Venezuela realizing that God can use me no matter where I am in my life if I just allow Him to do so. My life has been inundated with a lot of ministry knowledge – conferences, books, mentors. It’s the words, however, that shine above the exit doors of the church we serve that have spoken over my life the most. Those words read, “Go be missionaries where you live, work and play.” This is not a call to live out a title, but a call, rather to live out a purpose no matter where we go in our day. It reminds me to make the most of my day and my life because there is opportunity in it all.
Maybe you, especially you young women or older women, are struggling with how God can use you. My heart is especially tender to you. I know you. I am you. Can I encourage you today to see yourself as God sees you, to embrace the life and season you are in, and to live out the fullness of who God is right there? Loving well does not have to be complicated. The desire to love well just has to be what pushes us out the door. Maybe in this season of life it seems there’s nothing for you to live out, no way that you can love well. I’ve been there, too. It’s in our darkest, most difficult seasons that we can truly live to the fullest, for it is right there where God is heard most clearly.
Unsure callings often lead to our most certain destinies. How? When we embrace being who God says we are, and live for the One who holds our past, present and future, and obey Him in the ebbs and flows of life, then we’ll begin to live out a calling that sets a world on fire with the Gospel…all where we live, work and play. Begin today to live to the fullest right where God has you!