You might get a lot of blog posts in the near future because my writer’s heart has been full of ideas that I hope to share but I felt like this one needed to come first. I’m not writing on behalf of the four of us in this post, so this isn’t a reflection of where all of us stand, but it is a picture of what God has done in my life over the past twelve months as He has transformed me into a missionary.
For those of you who don’t know my story, I didn’t grow up in the church. I became a Christian when I was eight kneeling under my grandma’s piano after watching a televangelist one Sunday morning. Because my family didn’t attend church, I didn’t have the community or resources to do more than believe and pray. That changed when I was eleven and found a magazine from one of those fundraisers I swear every middle schooler has to do. It was designed for teen, Christian girls and after just the first edition I read my whole world turned upside down. I learned there was so much more to Christianity than I had known and there were books, music, and oh so many tools I could use to grow in my faith every day. I begged my family to attend church, which we did, and from there the rest was history. I was completely sold out. Even at that age I knew that when I grew up I wanted to work for God. I didn’t have a career ambition and I didn’t really understand what “ministry” looked like, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of telling people about God and how awesome He is.
The more I learned and experienced, my first choice of what to do with my life was to become a missionary. As I got older and developed the talents and gifts God had given me it changed to a Christian journalist and then to a youth minister. But when I was seventeen something happened…God called me to be a pastor’s wife. It was the first and only time I have audibly heard God speak to me but once was enough. I married my amazing pastor of a husband and we have served together these past eight years in an ever changing ministry field until we were called here to Kauai, oddly as the very missionary I wanted to be when I was in seventh grade.
So why am I sharing all of this with you? I believe God has plans for our lives and He is at work in mighty and mysterious ways in times and situations we may never know about until we are much older than we are now. I’ve never wanted to be anything except a worker for God, even when I served in restaurants and handed cash over counters at teller windows. But it hasn’t always felt like that’s what I’ve been doing.
You see, even though I have loved and walked with the Lord for twenty years and have been in some form of ministry since the eighth grade, I still had fallen into the misleading trap that ministry life and personal life can somehow be separated. Now, yes, I have always lived my faith in my daily activities, so I’m not saying I was one person on Sundays and someone else the rest of the week or anything like that. But it’s as if I worked tirelessly for God when I intentionally chose to serve him (youth group nights, worship services, committee meetings, etc.) and then my down time was my down time. Period. I still read my Bible and talked about God and things like that because He is a part of who I am, but I was selfish with my time outside of the church or ministry settings. I was selfish with my money…generous with finances when it came to ministry, but filling my life with my books and toys and meaningless things with all the rest. God did not permeate my existence even when He was the focus of my life.
And then we moved to Hawaii.
If you read our initial posts after moving here you know how hard it was making what we thought was a no-brainer transition. It wasn’t the physical location that was the trouble, although culture shock was a small part of it, it was wrestling with the fact that we had no one and nothing but God for the first time in our lives. When you literally have no possessions except the clothes on your back you are forced to re-prioritize how you live. You have to come to grips that you don’t need any more than that so every purchase you make gets re-evaluated: how does this benefit the Kingdom? If it’s just for personal gain and not able to benefit others then maybe you don’t need it. And that’s a hard line to see sometimes! I mean, do I get bedding ‘A’ because it’s used and functional and will allow us to have more money to do other cool things for God or do I get bedding ‘B’ because it is nicer, will hold up longer, and will be more hospitable since part of what we do is host pastors and create a welcome retreat space for them? EVERY purchase we make is under fire because we want to be the best stewards we can be.
And time! Oh that’s been a hard one for me. While I may be social and sweet, I am an introvert to the extreme. People literally tire me out. So out of everyone in our household, I actually need days to be alone in order to refuel and put my best foot forward. But when you’re living with your time truly and completely open to whatever God is doing, that idea goes out the window. For example, it’s my one day off and I’m planning which beach to hit or hike to take to just chill and then a friend needs a ride to the airport, a hitchhiker is standing on my street corner, I meet some tourists on my hike and become their tour guide, and the list goes on. Now I know the world of Christianity has books and books on why we shouldn’t do things like that (you need boundaries and quiet time and what have you) but I’ve come to realize they have it all wrong. Modern Christianity says well Jesus even went away to be alone, which is true, but they never mention that when Jesus’ alone time was interrupted (and this happened often), He gave up his alone time to meet the needs of the people around him.
And this is the heart of what I’ve learned in becoming a missionary. My job is not to work for God (currently my “job” is answering calls at a credit union), my LIFE is my job. Every breath, every second, every dollar I have belongs to HIM. All my plans, all my wants, they all don’t mean a thing because His are so much better. I’ve learned that I need to be available any time, night or day, for Him to put someone in front of me that I have an opportunity to be a light to and that my heart needs to be available too. I can’t resent it when I just want to go home to dinner but someone needs a ride someplace that’s forty minutes out of my way, I just need to be grateful they got in my car so I can be a little more like Jesus and hopefully get to share Him with them.
It’s strange but I feel like I have changed so much as a woman of God these past twelve months, perhaps even more than the past twelve years combined! I know I don’t have it all figured out and I know how often my flesh fights against this life of complete surrender, but I also know the peace and joy of living every second in light of eternity. I don’t need to plan or schedule a time for ministry or set aside a certain amount of money. I just need to say “Here it is Lord, it’s all yours…now what shall we do today?”