And by His grace, and only His grace, I did.
I decided that despite all my reservations, all my inability and anxiety and plain lack of faith, that I would I stand in the gap for those who had not heard, to give up my life for that call, leaving behind ambitions to double major, (and little did I know) my ambitions to enroll in medical school.
Two and a half years later, I write this post from 8,000 miles away from my closest friends and family, as I live amidst a people that I have grown deeply, deeply to love, partnering with Christ learning to be a midwife. Looking back at the whole double-major and medical school thing, I'm thinking my adventure with the Lord triumphs those old dreams by far!
But as different situations have arisen and things have happened or changed or been different than I expected, I have wondered about that decision I made 2 years ago. In my little mind then, I was thinking that just surrendering to the call of a missionary lifestyle would be all I needed to do. You know, so many people already don't want to go, to give up their plans, to leave the comfort of familiarity, so if I am doing it, that should be enough. Oh no no no, I was wrong. I don't deserve some awesome praise from the Lord or men for merely obeying what God has called all people to do in the first place. I don't think my attitude or intentions were requesting that recognition, but really, as I have learned, merely obeying the Lord is only the beginning.
When Jesus said to the disciples, "Drop your nets and follow Me," I picture the fishermen-turned-Christ-followers sprinting after Jesus following Him around everywhere He went. And when you take the account of the gospels as a whole, those disciples really did do that. So as a Christ-follower myself, I have expected that sprint, that eager following anywhere and everywhere Jesus goes. I seemed to have tagged on the expectation that I would know what the journey might look like--where I would be, what I would be doing. But God never promised to spill the beans and reveal every detail of my life. Knowing does not equal faith. He just merely says "Follow Me" and come see where I lead you. And what I have found, too, is that this whole following business isn't exactly this hurried sprint. Sometimes, it's like a slow stroll or even stand-still traffic. Following seems so much like an action, but sometimes it's more of a waiting.
Following, too, manifests itself in the steady obedience of daily life, of being faithful to set aside time to pray, to read God's word, to share the gospel regularly. With those little steps of obedience, God forms big steps too.
So with this new understanding, God has taught me a lot. And I am learning that my faith is so small. Just like in Mark 6, when the disciples wondered how Jesus would multiple five loaves of bread and two fish to feed 5,000 people, I wonder if He intends to provide for me too? And of course, a few chapters over in Mark 14, I find the answer.
It was Passover time, and the disciples ask where they will eat. (A pretty legitimate question, but even so, extremely human-like--"Hey Jesus, where are we going to eat? How are we even going to celebrate this commanded feast? How will we prepare?") And Jesus, being so gracious, knowing that they do indeed need a place to observe the Passover, says, "Go into the city. There you will meet a man who is carrying a pot of water. Follow him. When he goes into a house, talk to the master of the house. Say to him, "The Teacher says, `Where is my room where I can eat the Passover Feast with my disciples?' "The man will show you a large room upstairs. It will be all fixed up and ready. Get the Passover food ready for us there.'
So the disciples went to the city, and THEY FOUND EVERYTHING JUST AS HE HAD SAID!
Hello faithfulness. Can you even imagine? Yeah, just go look for some guy carrying a pot of water. Follow him home and basically tell his master that someone sent you to eat in his room upstairs.
Sounds kinda crazy huh?! But that is the point! For the world, those who don't know Christ, our lives kinda look crazy, or at least they should.
And so I find myself asking if I have the faith to trust that God will call me here and intend to provide for all my needs--emotionally, spiritually, financially, physically. And then I think, "Of course He does!" Just like He knew that He and the disciples needed a place to eat, He knows that I have needs, too. But Him meeting those needs are going to stretch my faith, and lead to me dependence, trust, and ultimately, to praise and glorification of the one true God as He is faithful again and again.
And he has already begun to meet those needs, even in ways I didn't expect. In Matthew 19, Jesus says, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."
It's true! Thankful to experience God's provision in surrounding me with people here in the Philippines just like that, just like He promised.
And I'm thankful also that instead of coming home on my one-month break this summer, I will be encouraging college students who will serve on the very same healthcare teams here in the Philippines that I did during my time in college by assisting in their adjustment and training on site. Although the decision to not break in the states was a hard one to make, working alongside this team is just another chance to serve. And I for one am excited to put feet to my small, but growing faith.
“I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”--Elisabeth Elliot