Eleven years ago was a long period of searching for truth about God to feed my own soul. I’d lost my grandpa. My (now former) fiancé had called off our wedding four months before we were to be married. In short, I was in a state of life- altering confusion.
One night alone in my room kneeling by my bed, when I was at a point of final desperation, I cried out to God, tears waterfalling down my cheeks.
I can’t do this anymore. I have tried to live my life my way and all I have is a mess. Lord, I want you to take charge of my life. I am sorry for all the bad things I’ve done, the self-centered person I’ve been and horrible decisions I’ve made. I want a different life now if it’s not too late.
Early the next morning, just as I was beginning to awake, my eyes not quite open yet, I heard it.
“Should My Spouse Go Through Language Training if Not Headed into Formal Ministry?”
Someone asked my husband and I recently if they should both be enrolled in language school. Our answer? Unquestionably. Both spouses will be interacting with the culture–and both need to be mobile within that culture. Conversely, whoever doesn’t have language or cultural training will be handicapped at whatever level caps their interaction–not just for everyday life, but for ministry capacity. Imagine a person coming to your passport country without speaking your language. They’re reduced to functioning even less than the hearing impaired (who have sign language); they’re on the outside looking in, utterly isolated from anyone by their inability to communicate.
One of the biggest stresses on my engagement wasn’t really the normal stuff–the wedding planning or whatnot. It was a phrase I’d rerun over in my head a hundred times: I don’t feel called overseas. Evangelism is not my gift. My husband-to-be surpassed the one I’d been looking for so many times over. And it really did seem God was leading us to marriage.
But was he?
Was I…selling out? I’d been headed in an overseas direction for years. What was I missing?
Elizabeth Spencer writes, “It is easy to get burnt out while living overseas. I know that, you know that, but are we doing enough to make sure we don’t get burnt out? The answer for me is almost always ‘no.'” Here, she offers wise advice to create longevity and health in your global work–reminding us all that there are many things, but only one is important (Luke 10:41-42).
None of us had heard an audible voice, to my knowledge. That would have been nice, considering all the times you wonder what in the world you’ve gotten yourself into; all the times you’re second-guessing because the work and the results didn’t look how you thought. Did I hear you right?
Imagine we’re sitting down at that great little nook of a coffee shop downtown: matcha latte for me, triple espresso for you (feel free to improvise. You just looked kind of tired). I’m like, Hey. Great news. Finally decided what I want to do with my life.
You: Sweet. What’s the verdict?
Me: Concert pianist, baby. Booked the concert hall for Friday.
You: Um. So. How have the lessons been going?
Me: No need, my friend. This is God’s calling for my life. All I need to do is sell some tickets!
I was attempting to stomach a failure of mine in my job, and I sat at the kitchen table with my husband, shaking my head. There may have been some tears involved. I explained that this past year, one of God’s key messages for me seemed this idea of making “no graven image”. I had to be really careful, I told him, not to remake God as “the God of what I want”–that Divine Waiter.
But my husband’s hazel eyes leveled with my blue ones. “I think you also have to be careful not to make an image of Him as the God who represents whatever you don’t want.”