Friday, August 15, 2008

I Know Nothing

I guess you could say it all started with the quarter-life crisis now so ubiquitous on college campuses- "I've gotten this far, ready to take the world by storm, but precisely how do I fit into God's plan?" I went into college thinking I would graduate from the same school I started at in four years, go on to medical school, and not so much as date until I was officially an M.D. Instead, I transferred schools (which meant graduating in five years), switched majors twice, am planning on graduate school for psychology, and was married before my senior year of college.

Check out the lantern in this picture, one of the hundreds donated by the class of 1958. Every member of the class of 2008 received one, and we all lit them simultaneously- so cool!

Incidentally, I would like to state for the record that those requisite graduation caps do nobody any favors. It seems like a ploy in which school administrations have one last chance to manipulate students into doing something ridiculous- "They look like fools, and they paid for it- mwa ha ha ha (maniacal laugh)".

The Call

Frankly, I think it's preposterous that one is expected to decide one's entire future by the age of 22. Many 22-year-olds I know shouldn't be allowed to decide what to do with a weekend, let alone a lifetime. After much time spent in prayer, I felt I should apply to graduate school. I waded through the dense web of standardized tests, transcripts, references, and essays. I did the interviews. I waited, worried, and prayed. But before I had so much as heard from many of the schools, God made it clear this was not His timing. I was less than thrilled to make this discovery.

It started out with a speaker to our church in the cities who was also the founder of a missions organization. As soon as I read the snippet about the message in the bulletin, my anxiety skyrocketed. For several years, I knew God would eventually call me to Africa to work with children; it was always on the back burner, an adventure always set in the distant future. I really hoped God wasn't going to mess up my plans...I know it sounds ridiculous, but you know you've thought it, too.

He started to talk about his background. Although he knew our pastor from time in Arizona, he actually grew up within an hour of our hometown. His first "real" missions experience was taking Bibles into China and serving there (as was mine), and his daughter was finishing up her doctorate in Psychology (my eventual academic goal). These, among many other similarities, forced both Josh and I to take notice. Long story short, we told him we would keep in touch about serving with his organization in the distant future. Later, I came to find out that my parents also knew him from working with him in the 1980's- it was a little surreal.

When Josh and I both came to realize God's plan was for us to serve in Africa much sooner than ours, we asked for confirmation. We prayed with our pastor's wife, who felt the Holy Spirit lead her to ask for not one, but three, confirmations. This was at the beginning of our church service, and by the time we left, we had all three.

Since then we decided to switch organizations, moved out of our apartment, put most of our worldly possessions in storage, and are preparing to leave behind everything we know. This is in large part based on faith. We have no details about an official assignment (who, what, when, where), we haven't been able to raise support yet, and we aren't really even sure how long we are going for (most likely somewhere around one year). For the hyper-organized, compulsively scheduled control-freak that I am, this just doesn't sit well. I thrive on details, and right now, I pretty much know nothing.

What I do know is this: when God asks me if I am willing to go, I will say yes. I am perfectly aware of the rebels, of AIDS, of poverty, of living situations; we are called to look beyond that, above it. As a missionary I recently met said, the most dangerous place to be is anywhere but in God's will. I know that there are people who need the love of Christ, and the assurance and peace of the message of the Gospel. As I said to Princess (the little girl my family has taken care of on the weekends for the last 5 years), we are going to help and take care of kids who have no mommies and daddies.

We won't forget the ones we love here; we will learn to love better by God breaking our hearts for the lost and underprivileged. Finally, I know that, although Africa can be a dangerous place, I would rather go, serve, and die there, than spend the rest of my life knowing I was disobedient, that I had given up the opportunity to be used to change even one life in the name of Christ.


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