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Nine Reasons

Nine Reasons

Growing up as the youngest child, trailing my siblings by eight and 10 years, I had lots of experience in sibling rivalry, comparison, excuses, and attempts to get away with things my older siblings weren’t so lucky in getting away with. I was a wild child, ornery in spirit and in deed. I was concerned little with what others thought of me or how I behaved. I skinned my knees, made mud pies, and climbed up the stairwell walls, leaving handprints and toeprints evidencing my mischief. I took being told “No” as a challenge that I accepted.

The Lord called me to missions at a young age while this fire burned bright. With excitement and confidence, I claimed this calling that He had given me.

I can’t quite figure out when it happened, but it happened nonetheless. Call it middle school insecurity, high school complacency, or the prevailing distractions that seemed so fulfilling at the time. Whatever it was, it hit hard. The fear set in. I became reserved, shy, and retreated to the shadows. What did I have to offer others? I questioned what impact I could make in the world, let alone in my own community. The time came when I chose another path, and I walked in the opposite direction of where He was calling me. The road of my choosing looked less intimidating, less rocky. It was smoother ground. I liked this road. It made me feel safe. It looked more familiar. I knew the people walking alongside me here.

And yet, I was not released from His calling. While I knew I was not released, I thought I had missed the window for it, that the time had passed. There would be no other exits to return to that path.

“And yet” is God’s specialty. When I had given my reasons, my fears, and my best efforts of digging my heels in, God demonstrated His “and yet” to me.

But let me be the first to tell you, I have every reason in the world not to go. These reasons I’ve clung to are extremely logical and justifiable. They are the same reasons that many others take comfort in. These reasons have kept many—who knows how many—comfortable, secure, and safe. I share with you nine reasons why I should not go to the mission field.

  1. I am young. My adult life is really just starting. Relationships and friendships are beginning to blossom, and I do not want to miss out on them. Can I still be present in those friendships if I am not physically present and available to invest in them? Not only am I young but my nephew and nieces are also young and are at such a fun age in life. Will they really know me when I return? How much will have changed in their lives?
  2. I am settled in my current circumstances. I’ve lived on my own now for three years and am finally starting to get settled into my home and my life, really claiming it as my own. I have a great job with promise of upward growth, great benefits, health insurance, a 401(k)…you name it. Limits and restrictions are not well-known to me.
  3. I am still quite unestablished. Although I am on my way to getting settled in my life stateside, I am just starting. I have not worked anywhere more than three years. I call my Dad often when something goes wrong with my house or my car. I haven’t quite figured out what IRA or escrow accounts are. There is still so much I don’t know about life.
  4. I have little experience. Graduating with a psychology major that I pursued no further than a bachelor’s degree leaves me feeling unqualified in many areas. I didn’t graduate with any specialization or directed studies in ministry, missiology, or an international studies program.
  5. I am single. Every day I am faced with the reminder that the majority of the world holds an expectation that marriage is the ideal. In some cultures, including the culture I will be immersed in, marriage opens a door for specific ministry to take place. Those who are married are viewed with respect and esteem. I have yet to claim that status, if I ever will.
  6. I am a woman. The region I will be calling home for two years is a male-dominated society. The plight of women is ever-present. Opportunities are limited, and safety is not an assurance. In a culture that still practices outlawed sex-based abortions, bearing a female child is viewed as an unnecessary burden. Widows are viewed with shame and as an inconvenience, deemed as bad luck merely because they have outlived their husbands. It has been said that simply being a woman is hardest and most dangerous in this country.
  7. I am vulnerable. The fact that I am a single woman leaves me vulnerable and possibly subject to unwanted notice. Being a single woman certainly does not seem ideal.
  8. I am afraid. I would like to tell you that I am a strong, independent, young woman who laughs in the face of danger—strong and courageous, taking brave steps into the unknown. But I know myself too well. I am not that brave. I am fearful.
  9. I can’t tell you the name of the country where I am traveling. In print, social media, and large public settings, I can only reference this region as “South Asia.” The persecution that takes place is not some far-off idea—it is a daily reality. The risk is too great in exposing the truth of my motives to those not yet vetted.

I’ll leave you with this abridged version of my justifiable, logical list of reasons why I should not be going to the mission field. Can you blame me? This list is sound and reasonable.

Unfortunately for me, God does not care about my logical reasons not to go.

Jeremiah 1:4–9, 18 (RSV) states: “Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak. Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.’ Then the LORD put forth his hand and touched my mouth; and the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls.’”

When God put out His hand and touched my mouth and I said, “Yes,” Christ crucified all those logical reasons.

I know, as you must know now, that God is not sending the most educated, the most experienced, not even the most established person. But when I raised my hand and said, “Yes,” He promised to send a Jeremiah, an iron pillar, and bronze walls. He promised to send a Jeremiah, a fortified city. He washed away every logical reason I gave Him, and my excuses are gone.

I have every reason in the world not to go.

But only one reason is needed not to stay.

Action Step

GO: What’s holding you back from following God’s call on your life? What are the reasons—however logical—that you’re clinging to? We know that taking steps of faith into the unknown are scary. We know it’s overwhelming. But if you’re willing to trust that God will guide you every step of the way, we’re here to walk with you. Start the conversation here.

T.J., missionary to South Asia
The Call (March 2018)

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