It was January 2009.
Edgy could hardly describe what I was. I sat at a wooden table in the corner of a nice bagel place. I think it was snowing at that time, but Ohio’s weather is as unpredictable as America’s gas prices and at that moment I really didn’t care.
It could have been raining hamburgers and I wouldn’t have even noticed. I was in it deep, deep in thought over what was going to happen within the next few months. My knees bounced as I hunched over the table with hands eagerly grasping each other. My mind delved into the soon coming future as my eyes fixed on the imaginary scenarios playing out on the wooden table.
And that’s when he came in.
Cool as a cucumber, he sat across from me, causing me to straighten up a bit and give him my attention. He sat down with a smile that was very warming and welcoming. As he sipped his coffee we made small talk for some time about things such as my job, my sweet automobile (a 1990 Corsica) and my brother’s approaching wedding, but in all of this, I think he could tell that I had something else on my mind.
I spilled my guts, telling him everything that happened during my time at Bethany College of Missions: the way that the Lord dramatically changed my life, the intense moments in the house of prayer, the love for God evident in the staff and retired missionaries. It was a truly amazing experience that even to this day I wouldn’t trade for the world. Through these experiences I have had such an encounter with God that I was able to look people in the eye and with the utmost sincerity say these words:
I love the Lord, not because someone made me but because I willingly set my heart on knowing him, and that’s when he met with me.
He watched me intently, his hands on his hot cup of coffee as he listened to my heartcry.
I was willing to give my life for the Gospel; I was ready to go to the toughest of war zones and preach the coming King Jesus, yet it seemed as if this fight would kill me before I could do anything big for the Kingdom. I was preparing, training, getting ready, but suddenly felt overwhelmed by the question:
“… am I really supposed to be doing this?”
I nearly lost my strength when that question came. I was beginning to feel afraid that I was making a huge mistake in doing this. How in the world do you distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the enemy anyway?
Was I really supposed to go to Thailand with Bethany in April of 2009? I left BCOM at the end of August, 2008 and, after taking a road trip with a friend, went to Ohio to start fundraising for the mission field. In the middle of fundraising, I was asked whether I knew God was telling me to go or not. I couldn’t give a suitable answer.
All I knew was that the percentage of Christians that went on missions was staggeringly low, lower than the number you may be thinking of right now. I set my heart on going to the 10/40 window not because I received any kind of direction from the Lord but because I thought I should. I resolved that most don’t have a legitimate excuse not to go, because hardly anyone is going to the least reached people groups. I’ve heard the “America is a mission field too” line a million times, yet have never been witnessed to on the street.
It was my pastor that sat across from me. He smiled gently, knowing that I was eager to do the right thing. The problem was that I didn’t know what the right thing was in that moment. My pastor began to tell me about seeking intimacy, that is in-to-me-see, with God. He told me to seek his face, to take time to know God, to develop a deeper relationship with him. When you draw closer to God, his voice and his will tend to become clearer, much like drawing closer to a person who is talking to you from the other room.
As the departure date of April 23rd drew closer, I began to feel more and more that I wasn’t supposed to go. I called the college and told them the news. Although I wasn’t going on the mission field with BCOM, I was going to be heading back to the college to focus in and seek Jesus. If we don’t seek the will of God in our lives than perhaps we’re just skating on the thin ice of our own opinions and emotions.
Read more about how to know if you’re called to missions here.