I remember sitting in my sixth grade class at school and being asked the inevitable question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I listed off, rather quickly, my top four choices:
- Archaeologist. I had a current obsession with Indiana Jones. It wasn’t until later in life that I discovered what an archaeologist really does and realized I did not have the patience for that.
- Teacher. Thanks to my Sadie Rose books (anyone else read those?) and Laura Ingals Wilder, my deepest desire was to teach in a one-room schoolhouse, even though I knew that was probably a pipe dream.
- Missionary. Yes, my unspiritual sixth grade self listed that goal third.
- Christian author. I remember distinctly clarifying that I would be a Christian author. As if a believer would ever truly be a secular writer. Somehow I thought the clarification sounded more elaborate.
Obviously, I have never become an archaeologist, but like I said, once I found out Indiana Jones archaeology doesn’t truly exist, I gave that one up.
When I was in high school, I more fully gave my life over to the Lord for full-time ministry. I was aware that would mean future sacrifice, but I had no idea what that meant. “Sacrifice” was such an abstract concept at that point in time. I also figured that “missionary” would truly mean cross-cultural, probably in some remote part of the world, single, with a plethora of long skirts in my suitcase.
I had no idea how God would take the deep desires of my heart and transform them into something beyond what I could dream… and all because I made the conscious decision to follow Him when I was still a kid.
Point in case: I got my one-room schoolhouse. A beautiful one-room schoolhouse with the best kids on earth. They stole my heart and I will never, ever be the same thanks to those four years.
I learned Spanish – a bucket-list sort of goal I had set for myself in college.
I became a missionary. I got to do the “overseas thing” and now I get to do the “State-side thing.”
Also part of my “bucket list” was training children’s ministry workers. In case you weren’t aware of this, this is one of the main reasons we were so excited about joining BCM – the fact that they had a program specifically for training children’s ministry workers. Now, I get to do this on a fairly regular basis and I love – simply LOVE – every single second of it.
Now, I get to do #4 on my “what do I want to be when I grow up” list. I write. Let me clarify this: When we were first married, I was extraordinarily bored, lonely, and home way more often than Brian was, so I had time on my hands. So, I did the natural thing: I wrote. Well, I joined a gym… and THEN I wrote. A lot. I told Brian, “I don’t want to just write floopy stuff. I want to write stuff with meaning – with purpose. I want my writing to make a difference.” Then, we sold all we had, moved to South America, had two children, and writing was put on the side in the form of this blog and some newsletters.
We’re back in the States now and one of the thing I get to do is write for our mission board. Meaningful, purpose-driven material. I get to “be” a journalist even though I purposefully never got a Bachelor’s (in anything) because I knew God wanted me on the mission field immediately, so I forefeited the four-year degree. Somehow, God is using my uneducated self (similarly to how He used me to teach for four years with no teaching degree) to write articles.
Nope, they’re not the award-winning novel of my dreams. They’re not in a huge publication and my name will most certainly never be in neon lights for them.
But… they’re out there. And they’re mine. And there’s purpose behind them. I get to share with the world what our great and awesome God is doing in the world – at this very moment.
I never would’ve had this chance if I hadn’t told God to use me, take me, let me be His full-time – no matter the cost, no matter where it takes me.
When talking about missions, the word “sacrifice” is used an awful lot. I won’t deny that that’s true. We gave up literally everything to move to South America. I’ve said goodbyes before – the big, emotionally draining, life-altering, heavy-sobbing goodbyes that still make me tear up to think about. I’ve had two kids in foreign clinics with doctors I didn’t understand with no mom by my side. I’ve had shingles, gross reactions to bugs, and major illnesses. We’ve had to start over – twice – with barely any possessions to our name. We live on a tight budget and “fun shopping trips” for me consist of not just going to Aldi, but getting to go to Walmart, too!
But, honestly, when I think about our life, the word “sacrifice” isn’t even in my vocabulary. I think at least once a week for the past few months, Brian and I have looked at each other in total excitement to say, “Who gets to do this?! For their career??” So many opportunities – for both of us – that we never would’ve gotten to do (at least not the way we get to do it now) if we weren’t serving the Lord full-time.
What sacrifice? It’s much more a blessing than a sacrifice to serve the Lord!!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:20-21