WILL YOU CHOOSE CALLING OVER COMFORT?
By Trevor DeVage
Several years ago, I had a friend who believed God was calling him to serve as a missionary in a Two-Thirds World country. He and his wife prayed about this for a year, alone and with their kids. (The oldest was eight years old and youngest was 2.)
He continued to feel confident of God’s call to this change, so he quit his job, raised funds, sold possessions, packed up belongings, and moved. I traveled to see him and his family about six months later, and my friend told me, “I think God is calling us back to the United States.” I was convinced about his claim of a call to leave home. I wasn’t so sure God was calling him to return.
I thought about this incident this week after reflecting on my final message in our church’s Dangerous Prayer series. This dangerous prayer was, “Lord, send me.” It seems my friend had prayed this prayer. But still I wonder if he accurately discerned God’s answer. What happens when we pray, “Send me”?
GOD’S ANSWER MAY BE DIFFICULT
My comfort can’t be my calling. My friend’s attitude at first was the perfect demonstration of this point. He was willing to leave the comfort of middle-class America for the difficulties of living in a deprived nation. Not everyone so called answers yes. I mentioned several Bible illustrations Sunday.
• Jonah: God called him, but he didn’t want to go.
• Moses: God called him, but he didn’t think he was qualified.
• Isaiah: God called him even though he felt too sinful to answer.
God’s call often involves risk. God often sends us to a situation with difficulties we wouldn’t choose. Every hero of the Bible illustrates how God’s call often leads to a life of pain or rejection or sacrifice.
But comfort is not the same as fulfillment. Happiness is not the same as joy. I’ve known more than one person who cashed in his retirement to answer an uncomfortable calling. And again and again, they’ve found new meaning in their new mission.
But it’s seldom easy. I’ve also known more than one person who walked away from ministry because ministry is hard. Going where God sends you will inevitably be difficult. You must have a high pain tolerance to lean-in to what God has called you to do.
Perhaps my friend who wanted to give up after six months hadn’t fully anticipated this. Perhaps he didn’t imagine how tough it would be for his young children to bend to a foreign culture. Perhaps he couldn’t cope with his wife’s struggle to adapt to new ways of doing almost everything.
I understand. I’m not judging him. But I’ve taken note that discomfort dare not be my reason for deciding God is sending me someplace else. God’s comfort can keep you in your calling.
GOD’S WILL MAY BE FOR US TO STAY PUT
Sometimes your sending is staying. Sometimes God’s answer to a “send me” prayer will be, “Just stay put. Stick with it. I need you there. Don’t give up.” Not everyone who heard my sermon Sunday needs to do something new. God has already called them into their neighborhoods to be salt and light. God has sent them into their troubled family to demonstrate grace and truth. God has placed them in the job, in the classroom, with a spouse who needs a caregiver, in a church that needs calm wisdom, at a task that’s not yet finished.
Too many of us spend too much of our lives thinking about what we’ll do someday. When the kids are out of college . . . when we have a bigger house that’s better to host a small group . . . when I take early retirement and I’m free to go on mission trips . . . God may lead any of us to some grand adventure in a new place with a lofty mission and a fresh set of goals. But so many of us are already where God has called us. Maybe the way he’ll answer our prayer is to open our eyes to the possibilities in the next room or the house next door or the crying needs just ten minutes from our neighborhood.
GOD’S CALL IS FRESH EVERY MORNING
Your boredom can be someone else’s breakthrough. Sometimes the tedious monotony of our routine dulls our capacity to discern God’s call. Pack lunches every day. Fix dinner every night. Keep attending round after round of never-ending meetings. Say farewell to one self-important boss only to be greeted with another. Budget cutbacks. Traffic jams. House repairs. In-law squabbles. Year after year—will it ever be different?
Maybe not, but it can always be fresh. “God, send me to the right office, the right aisle in the grocery store where you can use me in the life of the person I encounter there.”
Life is full of people hungry for unselfish love and unanticipated hope. While we’re wondering if we could demonstrate God’s goodness someplace else, all of us can ask God to send us to those who need him most right where we are today.
What has happened in your life when you prayed, “God, send me?” How is he using you where he’s sent you today?