Once upon a time I (Lindsey) had a vision from God of what my life would look like, of the places He was calling me. I saw myself in a third world country, India to be exact. I saw myself running an orphanage, having hundreds of children through ministry. Today, in adulthood my life looks very different from that plan I had as a high school student. I live state-side with my husband and four children. I love them deeply and have been used by God in many ways during this season of my life. Some would say, "well this must have been God’s plan for you," but I must disagree. I believe very strongly that God’s plan is to use me for His purpose no matter where I am, what season of life I’m living, or what country I live in. For this reason I believe that I could have been just as effective in ministry if I had pursued that first calling of India and an orphanage.
While I believe that I am called to be content where I am there are times that I just have to look back and wonder what might have been and why I didn’t pursue that original plan. There are many factors that come to mind, one being a bad experience with missions at the age of 14 that sent me in a weird spiral away from a relationship with God for some time. From there, that loss of closeness with Christ made it hard to hear how that original plan was possible or probable. I had never really seen it all put out there. I had not had the thought that I would just pick up and move upon completion of high school. In the back of my mind there was always an understanding that I would go to college (med school was in my sights at the time) after that I would pursue the mission field.
Let me tell you one thing, life gets in the way of unrestrained pursuit of missions. The things that happen in our life can definitely help prepare us for where God is leading, but it also has the ability to give us many more obstacles to tackle and exceptions to make. I love my husband and my children deeply, but they complicate ministry. Do I think ministry is impossible with them? No. Do I think ministry is harder to do and to envision when I must take into account the well-being, desires, and callings of 5 other people? Absolutely!
So today my message is to you, the parents, the mentors, and the youth leaders of our churches. Today, I am asking you to keep your eyes open for those who are called to the mission field (not everyone is called to pack up and leave, but some are). Be actively looking for those who have that itch to get out there. Parents, don’t get so caught up in the social norms that you miss the opportunity to encourage your children to follow God’s call even when it seems crazy. Protect your children from harmful experiences with missions as young children and teens by going with them, seeking opportunities to go into all the world preaching the good news. Your willingness to step outside of your comfort zones will be the best encouragement you can give your children to follow God’s will even when you can’t see exactly where it's leading. Youth leaders and mentors, encourage these young men and women to seek God’s will and not to wait to fulfill it simply so that they can fill the obligatory roles of college student, employed, spouse, parent, etc. Develop mission opportunities in the church and get the kids involved. Finally, for all three groups of people, when a young person comes to you talking about how they are going to go into the world, live with the poverty-stricken people of the world, feel what they feel, experience what they experience, live the way they live, don’t give them any reason to doubt that they will absolutely be taken care of every step of the way. What safer place is there to be than in the Will of God, walking, talking, and living like Jesus? Don’t give your children the opportunity to use what society deems the appropriate order of things as an excuse to say no to God’s will. When the Lord calls, let us make a point to teach our children to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” 1Samuel 3:9b