Thursday, September 29, 2011

God's Call

What does a call from God sound like? Does it sound like anything? Is it just a feeling? If it is, how do you know it's God and not just your own plan or idea? What is God calling me to? I've asked these questions over and over and over again, at least since I was about nine or ten years old. Ever since I saw our church school go on mission trips, I wanted to go on a short-term mission trip too. In fact, I began to have a deep-down desire to not just go on a trip overseas, but to actually be a missionary. However, even though I was still very young, I decided not to tell anyone about this desire I had--I didn't want to be influenced by anyone else in my decision. So I planned my life for the United States...and waited...and waited...and nothing happened. I went on one short-term trip and it was not a good experience at all. But last spring, I decided to give it one more try--the church youth were going to work with my best friends in Peru, and I figured it couldn't be that bad.

I'll tell the rest of the story in an edited version of my after-the-trip journal entry.

"The trip was kind of tough until we got to [the town where the project is located]. Tough just because I’m not a city person, so Lima wasn’t really exciting except for the market, where I got to try my hand at rudimentary translation and buying skills (an absolute BLAST by the way!!! :D). That was the first reason. The second was that I started realizing that I was going to have to work hard not to slip back into my old routines of social dealings. [There were old friends coming with me on this trip that I had decided didn't share my values and couldn't be my best friends any more, and they didn't realize this or understand why.] Not being their best buddies wasn’t a hard decision to make—I’d already pretty much made it—but it was tough to act on—not to go and hang with everyone all the time. Because that’s basically what I had to do to make it clear to myself that I wasn’t back hanging out with them and doing the things I no longer feel comfortable doing.

"Thursday evening [second day of the trip, first full day in Peru] we spent on the beach. I didn’t get in; I hung out with my friend H and we took pictures. It was fun. We stayed to watch the sunset over the Pacific, and again I stood back a little from the group; I was just trying to let it be a personal thing like I felt this trip was turning out to be anyways. And while I stood there, watching the sun sink slowly between the fire-gold sea and the fire-gold sky, a pulsing yellow orb suspended between two worlds…I thought.

"I thought about what I’d seen in Lima, the houses stacked one on top of another, all the way up the sheer brown mountains, crammed together, dust over the city, tourists gaping below while people are living up there in those windowless, roofless buildings. I thought about what I knew of [where we were going] (though I hadn’t seen it yet), where jungle is right out your back door and people wash their clothes in the river, where houses don’t have walls and you have a really, really nice church if it’s made out of wood and has sides—where airplane or boat is the only way to get to most of these villages and the mission used to be closed because of Shining Path guerilla warfare and there are still hundreds, thousands of people in the jungle who have never heard of Jesus. I thought about the islands and the continent over that huge expanse of water—Asia, with all its mystery and charm and its beauty, the high mountains and lush valleys, the tropical islands where everyone rich goes to vacation, the temples and false religions that lure people for enlightenment and lock them in hurtful, sinful, degrading practices (just like here in Lima, yes, and in the jungle too). I thought about all this, and I watched the sunset. And as I thought this, and watched (and it was a very pretty sunset), I felt God calling me. I can’t say what He said exactly; it wasn’t like words from the sky or anything, but I know He spoke. He asked me to come back.

"I wasn’t impressed that He necessarily meant come back to Peru, although He may; I don’t know. But over and over this trip I was re-impressed that “this is where you belong; this is what you need to do.” So I have a new direction—I’m going into mission service. And I’m so excited about it…it’s nothing like planning my editorial career like I was. I just never could really get excited about that. But this! This! YES I’m excited! :D"

This is my call. No, I don't have the details yet. I may not for quite some time. But now I can answer some of my questions. A call from God is not necessarily a voice from the sky. But it is Biblical, first of all; it's not just a feeling. Mine is based on texts such as Isaiah 42:6-9 Isaiah 60:1-4, and Matthew 28:18-20 How do you know it's God? He will show you. He's big enough, He can make it clear! Whether He wants you to stay in the States or go to far-off lands, He will guide your feet! Don't we serve an awesome God? :)

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