After my illustrious childhood call to missions (discussed previously), some time passed. I never forgot my call to missions, but I folded it up and stuffed in my mental closet labeled “Open when you find a husband and actually start to live life”. I know. Sad, right? It is sad that I believed there were things in my life that would never happen until some man came with the right key and unlocked my future. However, for whatever reason, I decided that my call to missions would have to wait until I had a husband to travel overseas with me. I accepted that as reality until about one year ago.
This is where my story collides with a book my friend recommended and The Bachelorette.
My friend, Laurie, and I were in the library at Rosa Scott School. Laurie nonchalantly told me that the book Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis was a really good book. She might have claimed that it would change my life, but I can’t remember. In that moment, I felt a Spirit tug to read that book, but I simultaneously felt like I was not ready for it. Somehow I knew that reading that book would take my life down a different path – a path towards scary, daunting, unforeseeable future change. So just like my call to missions, I put off reading the book for a long time. In fact, Laurie has probably long since forgotten that day, because it happened at least four years before I actually decided to follow her directions. But four years after getting Laurie’s suggestion, I finally got Kisses from Katie and read it.
When I finished, I realized a few things. 1. I could no longer live the American fluff dream I was enjoying. 2. God was about to shake up my world and ask me to do some giant things. At the time, I thought God was telling me to write a biographical book about missionary women. That may seem quite strange, but God used that simple misunderstanding to make my mission calling unavoidably clear. I bet Father God chuckled a little bit at how He convinced me follow Him. You see, I started to pray for God to lead me to missionary women whom I could interview for my book.
THE SAME DAY that I started praying for God to send these women into my path, something weird happened. I had finished praying and started watching The Bachelorette. (I know, I am super spiritual about my tv viewing choices. Wink, wink.) As I watched JoJo trying to decide who her soulmate was, I felt another Spirit tug. This Spirit tug said to turn off the show.
I balked against this. Why would God ask me to turn off my guilty pleasure tv show when I had already prayed? Yep, I’m a sinner. After trying to ignore or delay God’s request, I realized this was a tug that could not be avoided. If I wanted to obey God in the big things, I needed to obey Him in the little things. So I got off the couch and went for a walk with Poppy (my charcoal fluff-ball of canine energy). On that walk, God changed my life. By saying, “No,” to The Bachelorette and “Yes,” to God, I had perfect timing to meet a sweet couple: Jerry and Bobbye.
I had noticed their outstanding garden on my summer walks and often wondered who worked so hard to keep their flowers and plants in such good condition. So on that day, Jerry and Bobbye were outside working in their garden. I felt compelled to stop and compliment them (especially since I have a brown thumb and cannot keep plants alive for more than a few weeks).
When I started talking to Mrs. Bobbye, I could just feel the Jesus shining from her eyes. So I asked her about her faith and found out that she and her husband had been missionaries for decades before retiring to their hometown in Mississippi. I walked home praising God and thinking I could interview her for my book. Only later did I find out that not only had she been a missionary, but her husband had even written a book on the call to missions. Even more shockingly, her husband is Jerry Rankin who served as the President of the International Mission Board (IMB)!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need a flashing sign to know what God is calling me to do. This was my flashing sign. I talked to the Rankins and read Mr. Jerry’s book. Suddenly, I realized that God was not asking me to just write a book about missionary women; God was telling me to become a missionary woman! I may still write that book one day. However, for right now, I am apply to serve with the IMB overseas for a few years and waiting and going to Cambodia with my church.
Through all these continuations, I have realized that God does not just throw up flashing signs all the time. What God DOES do is ask you a progression of questions: will you do this? will you take this next step? will you be braver now? will you still say yes to this? will you turn off The Bachelorette and let Me change your world?
It is scary to think that all Christians are just one “No” away from leaving God’s path. I was one “No” away from never reading Kisses from Katie. I was one “No” away from staying on my couch watching The Bachelorette. I was one “No” away from never meeting the Rankins. I was one “No” away from following God’s call to missions.
Where are you in this process? What tender tugs is the Spirit working in your heart? Listen to His voice. Hear when He calls. Do His will. Say, “Yes.”
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter… Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on a rock.” Matthew 7:21 & 24 (NASB)