Since God reveled my call to ministry, I have struggled with knowing how He is specifically calling me. Where and when details have been important to me. I have felt almost 100% about the idea of moving to a foreign country to influence the world in the name of Jesus. I’ve felt almost 100% about staying in America and working as a student pastor. At times, I’ll be honest, I’ve felt discouraged from either of those ideas and wondered if what I originally understood about my calling was some child-like fantasy that I made up on my own.
For the past 2-3 months, my focus has shifted from long term, lifelong plans to short term, summer break type plans. I have been worried, anxious, and terrified of what May, June, and July will hold for me. And personally, I don’t think those are feelings God desires for us to carry when we think about our call to ministry. I’ve prayed. A lot. I’ve applied and interviewed for multiple camp staff jobs and been rejected by them all. I’ve prayed over the possibility of a mission trip, which is financially. Now… throw in summer classes, my roommate’s wedding, and the fact that I have to find a new place to live and move there this summer.
What am I supposed to do this summer, Lord?
That has been the question I have asked over and over and over and over again. And every single time I’ve received the same answer.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20
From day one as a Christian, I understood this as my calling. There is no doubt in my mind that I am here on this earth to make disciples.
However, as Christians (and yes, a lot of us do this), we try to apply this Scripture to our lives. We try to discover its meaning in the context of our world and apply it in the way that best suites us. That’s what I did for a while. However, as I grew in my relationship with the Lord, I realized that this Scripture in not intended to be applied to my life. My life is intended to be applied to this Scripture.
In fact, most Scriptures are viewed in this same way. We make the Scripture fit into our lives, rather than making our lives fit into God’s Scriptures. How undermining is it to the God of the universe to take His word and try to make it fit onto our corrupted, sinful lives without being willing to change our lives to fit His holy Scriptures? I will be the first to admit that I did this. When reading the Bible, we think, “What does this mean to me?” When we should be thinking, “What did God mean by this?” The two are completely different questions that will give you completely different answers. And by asking, “What does this mean to me?” we take away all the divinity of the Bible. If the meaning, intent, and application of the Bible is determined by me… what good is the Bible?
So through this revelation what did I learn? Firstly, that it doesn’t matter if I’m summer camp, in Africa, Romania, or any other country this summer. It doesn’t matter where I am this summer. It only matters that I’m making disciples. Whether I make them at church, at work, at school, or in Wal-Mart doesn’t matter. God’s call for us to “go” doesn’t always mean that we have to spend two weeks in another country, but it does mean that we have to take action and make disciples.
So this summer, I’m going to stay right here in South Carolina and make disciples as I go. I’ll make disciples at church. I’ll make disciples at work. I’ll make disciples at school. I’m even praying for the chance to make disciples in my apartment complex, where there is a high population of Muslims.
Secondly, I’ve come to understand that one of the millions of amazing things about God is that He will accomplish His purposes regardless of what I do. The entire Old Testament is proof of that statement. Jesus came even though no one was obedient to what He commanded. He fulfilled His purpose despite the fact that we couldn’t/wouldn’t cooperate fully. I put so much weight on being in the right place this summer that I lost sight of the Almighty God who is capable with or without me. And again, I believe that as a whole, Christians are too often focused on being in the right place at the right time… looking for that one brilliant moment that God is going to “need us,” undermining the Lord and His glory.
Through this journey, I’ve been praying Proverbs 3:6 into my life a lot. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Notice that the price for having our paths made straight is acknowledgement of Him. Not just once, not just occasionally, not just when we need help or advice, but in ALL of our ways. Allow yourself to meditate on this. Begin thinking of Scripture as God’s Word and not just as an instruction manual, as we are so quick to do.
My prayer as I write and publish this is that readers will experience God in a new way, allowing their hearts to be opened and acknowledging the yearning desire we have to be in relationship with Him through Christ. Quench that desire with His Word each day, applying yourself to His work, and making yourself available to fulfill His purposes. In doing this, you will experience peace, joy, and fullness like you’ve never known.