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Dear World, I'm Not Following Your Ways

"Going" out into all the world (Matthew 28:18-20) will stretch you to the point of feeling like you just repeated school from K-12 all over again; There is so much to learn.

Following the will of God and entering into the mission field or full time ministry is not always rainbows and daffodils. God will often walk with us through His intensive curriculum called "honor and humility" before we ever take on any sort of position within ministry. It is a lesson many fail to embrace, nonetheless it remains a necessary component in producing healthy and thriving leaders.

Sometimes, being in ministry can really suck and leave nasty bruises when we choose not walk through this particular lesson plan with Jesus. This schooling looks like reckless obedience to God regardless of what people think or say. It looks like keeping your head low and your hands high. It looks like remaining hidden until God promotes you.

Sometimes saying "yes" to God will not always make sense to those around you. Your family and closest friends may even question your sanity and convince themselves that you've been brainwashed.

Sometimes it will hurt so bad that you will question whether God really is who He says He is.

There is a cost to following the call.

Keep trusting Jesus anyway

(You're just in the fire, and it's the best place for you)

Jesus turns the worst things into the best things because He's really that good. Sometimes His goodness looks like throwing you in the fire for a little while. Don't worry, He is still good, but usually He has to burn off the bad stuff while he purifies and strengthens the good already in you. He's preparing you for the mission He is calling you to, so do not retreat into helplessness and defeat.

Stand strong

Kick the devil in his stupid face

Embrace the burn

When God first called me into ministry I was a senior in college. This "calling" unexpectedly smacked me in the face because I wasn't actually living a life sold out for Jesus - I was living in compromise and rebellion. I was in no spiritual condition to minister within a local church let alone in a foreign country. I made a lot of stupid mistakes those first few years, but it still didn't stop God from calling me to His greater purposes.

I was sort of like a modern day "Peter," but definitely worse.

I was foolish, doubtful, double-minded, and exercised zero wisdom. I needed a good kick in the pants, so God threw me in the fire for a very long time. Even though I was a mess, it did not disqualify me from God's sovereign plan for my life.

Jesus is so nice! Like, the nicest!

For months I fought with God about my calling. I was angry that He was sending me to some foreign country I had no desire to go to, and it felt like He was ruining my life.

I had plans of my own. I was about to graduate college and I wanted to run toward my goals. I wanted to succeed in my career and make a lot of money - You know... the American dream... the normal thing to do? While processing all of this, I was plagued by this question:

What is normal?

Think about it, why does normalcy have to be to get a degree, get a good job, get married and start a family? I decided that if I wanted to wholeheartedly follow Jesus wherever then I needed to stop embracing the normalcy of the world, and start embracing the normal Christian life. That is, to actually do what Jesus said to do.

Easier said than done.

When you take this radical step of obedience, people will undoubtedly think you are the most insane and delusional person on the planet.

Who cares

Their words will sting, and you might be tempted to believe some of those lies, but remember that you are nothing that they say you are.

The hateful remarks of others are only a byproduct of their own hurts, frustrations, and misunderstandings of who God is. Love them anyway. Your decision to step into ministry or to fully surrender your life to Jesus can be a lot for some people to take in. Give them some time. They may never understand, but chances are they will learn to accept it and hopefully embrace it.

Do not wear their words like a coat. Instead, clothe yourself with truth of who God says you are.

Remember that when you are in the fire and you are feeling the burn, that there is always a better way...

A better way to love people

A better way to communicate with them

A better way to deal with conflict

So just...

Let go of your pride, and assume the best in people

Don't write them off, and always choose forgiveness

Honor those who spew venom at you

Love the the hell out of them

Following Jesus wherever (especially through the fire) can appear so uncertain at times. With every step of obedience that you take, you will quickly realize that He has been aligning you all along to walk straight into your heart's greatest desire. Choose to trust Him even when it doesn't make sense. I assure you that He is not ruining your life. Rather, He is breathing life onto those wild dreams hidden within your heart.

Dream Big - You're allowed

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