It started with The Bachelorette.
Actually, it started before that with a book recommendation from my friend Laurie.
No, this startling journey really started way before all that when I was riding a skateboard.
Now lemme tell ya, I used to think I was hot stuff riding my skateboard. I don’t even remember how I decided I wanted to skateboard, but I was already a tomboy as a kid so when I was around 9 or 10, my parents agreed to get me a skateboard for my birthday. Oh, it was magic. The bottom was pure wood grain covered in clear acrylic. I added some stickers because it was late 90’s. As a young girl, I would lean into the wind and shove my weight up the hill on those four tiny wheels. My right leg would pound into the ground and push off before temporarily floating bent in the air behind me. Pound, push, float. Like a piston in a car engine, my leg repeated the cycle over and over as I flew up hills. The wind in my face made me feel free so I leaned in and rode.
My beginning started one day skateboarding in the family driveway. This was during the time period that I had learned to lay the skateboard upside down on top of my feet and then dramatically jump (flipping the skateboard to be under my feet) and glide down the hill. But thankfully, my cousin James had not YET left my skateboard in the driveway to be run over by my mom’s suburban and dramatically broken in half to thus ruin my skateboarding days forever. (I feel like I am saying skateboard a LOT so I will try to move on.)
This beginning day was the only – well almost only – day in my entire life where I have heard God speak to me with actual words. When I say “speak”, I do not remember if my ears physically heard the words or if my heart spiritually heard the words, but either way, the words were CLEAR. I knew without a doubt that it was God speaking because the words in my mind did not sound like me. The words seemed to be foreign mostly because the content was so far from what my little elementary school brain would have dreamed up on its own.
First, God gently spoke to me that I should stop what I was doing and get on my knees in the driveway. I was all like, “Whaaa? Really?” God just waited. I resisted His tender tug at first. After a few minutes of sweaty palms and hesitation, I took off my helmet (thanks to protective parents) and got down on my knees. The pebbly imprint of our concrete driveway settled into my knees and palms as I waited.
God said, super clearly, “Go for Me to Canada.”
My heart was pounding with that overwhelming human desire to reject what God was saying and pretend it didn’t happen. I can’t remember if I told God, “No,” or just thought it. Either way, as a 9 or 10 year old, I loved God. I even wanted to obey God. But with THIS?! It was hard enough to move from Gadsden, Alabama to Gardendale, Alabama. And God wanted me to move countries?!
I obviously realized this was not a command to run away in the middle of the night as a young kid and hop on a train going north. But even then I knew, I KNEW as it still echoed in my soul that God was tenderly tugging me to missions. This call to missions was in my future, but I had a responsibility to respond in the present. It took me a few days. I laid out some “fleeces” before the Lord. I struggled between what I wanted and what God had spoken. But eventually, I said, “Yes.” I said yes to uncertainty and unfamiliar smells. I said yes to short term or long term. I said yes to mud or desert, English or Chinese, chicken or crickets. I said yes to: WHATEVER YOU WANT, LORD!
Now, I honestly do not know if I will go to Canada anytime soon. I still don’t know what exactly I signed up for when I said yes to missions as a little kid on a skateboard. Currently, I am applying to go overseas for a few years with the International Mission Board (IMB), but that has more to do with the book Laurie recommended and The Bachelorette which I will blog about eventually. Regardless of what will happen in the future, I know that God started tugging on my heart a long time ago (I mean, He knows us in the womb, y’all! Psalm 139:13-16). He is still tenderly tugging my heart to get me where I need to be, but that day in the driveway was my beginning.
Maybe you are in this moment of beginning. Maybe you feel God’s tender tug to a new job, new boyfriend, new way to spend your free time (goodbye Netflix…), or new location. He is going to use tender tugs throughout your life to get you where He needs you, when He needs you there. If God is pulling you towards Him, remember: God is always on the other side of that tug. He is pulling you towards Him. He makes no mistakes. He does not manipulate or manhandle us into obedience. He is not pulling you to make you fall down. He simply tugs tenderly. I don’t know what your beginning is, and maybe you don’t know what it is yet either. But I encourage you in this one truth today: whatever God calls you to begin, follow His Tender Tug.
Matthew 28:18-20 “18 Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'”