The following post documents one missionary’s journey to missions.
One Sunday in December of 2015, I felt the Lord clearly asking me to commit my life to Him in missions. This was a frightful prospect; God was making a claim on my life.
Calls like these always seem to the flesh to be restrictions on freedom—that we are receiving less of something, less enjoyment, less of life. In reality, they are calls to a greater and fuller life. They are calls into the broad expanse of God’s love into which we may not yet have known.
This is the paradox of the Christian life—dying means finding life. Choosing to keep our lives instead of losing them for Christ means we actually lose them in the end, all while missing out on the present joy we can have in Him.
So, that Sunday I went to church. I had thought about this decision and resolved to commit myself to Him in missions. Despite the commitment I had made, there were still thoughts in my head, like, “Does God really want this outward display in my life? Do I need to go forward or can I do this internally? The church has seen so much of me already; do I really need to put myself front-and-center again?”
I was tempting myself to fall into some sort of false humility. True humility is submission to God regardless of what others think. Making my decision based on how I would look in others’ eyes would be a sign that I was not simply surrendering to Him.
In the months leading up to this decision, I had been listening to more and more stories of missionaries and people who had given their lives to serving the Lord and obeying Him in the Great Commission. I was inspired by their love and devotion to Him. I would challenge myself to hear their accounts and then think to myself, “Hopefully one day I will have this type of devotion to Him.” I knew He was really the only One worth living for.
One such account I had read was Courtney Anderson’s biography of Adoniram Judson, To the Golden Shore—a book that would surely challenge most believer’s commitment to the Lord.
Judson’s life was filled with sacrifice. He went to great lengths to see people in a foreign land receive the salvation offered through Jesus Christ. He suffered many losses—his first wife died and then his second. He lost several of his children, missionary partners, and friends who passed away in their efforts to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He was thrown into prison and tortured. All for the sake of what really mattered—seeing lost people become saved.
He really believed what he said he did, and he showed it by his actions.
When I walked into Sunday school that day, I arrived before the lesson began and the teacher started reading a summary of Adoniram Judson’s life and devotion to the Lord. I was blown away. We had never discussed him before in class. I did not even remember mentioning that I was reading his biography.
This caused me to think that God was confirming the call for my commitment to Him, which was set to take place in the service following Sunday school.
After being stunned from that instance of His sovereignty, I went into the church service. After singing worship songs and greeting fellow believers, the pastor began delivering his sermon. Again, I was floored. The text for the sermon that day was Matthew 28:18-20… Jesus’ Great Commission! At this point it was comical. God was abundantly clear in His communication to me and there was no reason for me to doubt Him. I remember laughing to myself at how clearly He was speaking to me.
So when the call came at the end of the service, I went forward … trusting God that I was meant to be a career missionary. In the midst of choking back tears, I told the pastor what I felt God was calling me to commit to.
In the joy of the moment, I still viewed it to a degree as a sacrifice. With a few years behind me, I’ve been able to see what a pure gift of grace this calling has been. At the time, I did not even come close to knowing what the vocation of missions would look like (and I will always be learning!), but God has faithfully shown me how and where I should serve Him. I am very grateful for His grace.
The truth about this calling, though, is that there were many calls before this one—the first of which was repenting and believing in Jesus. That was a scary thing! To give over my rights to Jesus would mean a loss of what I thought to be life. But Jesus is life.
This pattern has repeated itself in my life. There have been more and more calls to greater life in Jesus. It was a lot of little “yeses” that led to the point of deciding to become a missionary. Since then, there have been many more calls to obedience. And there will be many more going forward. Each time, part of the calling involves dying to myself a little more, but looking back looking back the cost wasn’t as great as it seemed. There is joy in following Jesus.
My view of calling into missions has changed over the last year. I do believe that God calls each of us personally in particular ways, yet the Great Commission is for everybody. Some try to say we should make disciples as we go, but how will we make disciples of every nation unless we actually go there?
In Christ, we are all His priests, we are all His ambassadors. We are all meant to live on mission for Him.
Let’s resolve to listen to the Lord and obey Him. This means dying to ourselves. Whether or not we work in full-time missions, we should be eager to make disciples and see them multiply among every nation—by His grace.
The question we should ask ourselves is, “What else would we do with our lives?”