Many missionaries have specific countries or people groups “on their heart.” God uses all kinds of things to inspire dedication and love in the hearts of his people for his people.
I felt called to be a missionary when I was 17. That was almost twenty years ago. When I speak in those terms, it seems amazing that it took me until just recently to realize where in the world my heart longed to serve.
Here’s where… the whole world….
Unless I had had a purposeful conversation with God about this, I don’t think I would have understood it so well. The conversation started with him telling me (through a variety of ways) that I was not dreaming big enough. When I sat down to think and pray this through, I realized that all of my “dreams” really were the dreams of other people that I wanted to help fulfill. I don’t think it’s bad to want to see others dreams realized, in fact, I think that is even part of my call. But I think what God wanted to show me was two important things that would keep me from a constant stream of diving into various jobs and ministries with no purpose other than the one directly in front of me.
These two things were: 1. a big picture goal and 2. a specific vehicle for that goal.
When I realized that I had only been motivated for the dreams of others, God then asked me what I want deep, deep down.
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What immediately came to mind was too big. The whole world…. and every stage of discipleship from a person first hearing about Jesus all the way to them being sent as missionaries (and after). It seemed like the kind of “big” that says I don’t know what I want, you know? Like saying, “I’m hungry, I want to eat Mediterranean food,” but of course once you’re at the restaurant you have to pick one dish. In one sense, this is similar because I clearly cannot be everywhere at once doing every stage of discipleship at once (at least not currently).
Once God gave me the second piece- the vehicle of teaching- I realized that the big picture goal is possible.
Then? I got really excited.
The best thing about this huge dream is that, practically, it can encompass my heart for so many things. I can travel and teach, I can stay and disciple- I can teach about all the things God has taught me, I can continue to learn and be a part of community. With teaching in my hands, God can take me to all the world.
He has given me other tools as well. Tools such as cooking, photography, writing, toilette cleaning, cracking jokes…. Somehow embracing the big picture goal and seeing the specific tools he has placed in my hand have totally altered my view of the life there is to live on this planet. It settles me into his hand and at the same time stirs up my passion to get down to the day to day work.