Friday, 10 October 2014

Called to be a Missionary (Part 2 of 3)

     How do I know whether or not I am capable of doing missionary work (in its customarily understood sense)? Granted, we all have different abilities and not everyone is cut out to do the work of a missionary. Precious resources can be wasted and much damage caused by the wrong kind of people going to the mission field. I can’t help but wonder, though, how so many Christians seem so sure they are not cut out to be missionaries when so few have even attempted it! I have a suspicious feeling that many more could be doing effective missionary work than are currently trying.
     How, then, do I go about ascertaining what the Lord’s will is for my life? Since God "has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us . . ." (2 Peter 1:3),1 we can know, generally, what the divine will is. As a matter of fact, the will of God is something we must understand and obey (Matthew 7:21; Ephesians 5:17). But what about the particular things in one’s life that are not specifically addressed in the Bible? For example, where does the Lord want me, as an individual disciple, to "go" in order to share may faith? I can’t be everywhere at once. How can I be sure that I’m presently where I’m supposed to be? Moreover, how can I determine whether God wants me to get into full-time ministry or to seek secular employment, and which of the multiple options in either category is right for me? Is it possible to know what the Lord’s providential will is?
     "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). While we can have assurance that God providentially works in our lives, we cannot always know for sure the particulars of his providential will (cf. Esther 4:14; Philemon 15). In fact, it is probably best that we don’t know. Each of us has been created as a free moral agent with the ability to think and the freedom to choose, yet we often take this for granted and forget what a tremendous blessing it is. Admittedly, being entrusted with responsibility is not always easy. We sometimes want to say to God: "Tell me what to do," "Show me a sign," "Don’t let me make the wrong decision." Now the Lord certainly wants us to trust in, rely on, and obey him, but surely he does not want his children to be a bunch of helpless, indolent, senseless robots. If we are going to make a difference in this world, it is imperative that we develop into mature, responsible beings. And this is only possible when we have opportunities to make our own decisions, and even our own mistakes, and to learn and grow from them.
     We most often struggle with this when we naively think there is only one choice that can be "the right one." What career is the right one for me? Will I ever find that special someone who is the right one? Which mission field is the right one to choose? While preference, personality, compatibility, and other personal traits play an important part, more often than not our "best" choices extend far beyond a single option. As we travel down the road of life, we regularly come to forks in the road. Often there are several paths leading off the fork and we must decide which one to take. Equipped with a good understanding of God’s word, we can make wise, responsible choices. No matter which direction we decide to travel, as long as it is consistent with God’s overall will, and even if it turns out to be rough and bumpy, the Lord will ensure that it works out for the best. Moreover, other forks lie ahead that will enable us to change our course if necessary.
–Kevin L. Moore

      1 Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the NKJV.

*Adapted from my book The Single Missionary [2002] 6-13.

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