If you’ve been listening to The Christian Nerd Podcast you’ll know that this week I am on a mission trip to Guatemala. We’ve taken a group of high school students to a community outside of Antigua to install water filtration systems and spend time with the people. So in honor of my mission trip, I’ve decided to have a bit of a missions themed week at The Christian Nerd.
One of my most memorable mission experiences happened in the summer of 1997. I was on a mission trip in Ensenada working with Azusa Pacific University’s Mexico outreach.
As a 15-year-old looking forward to my junior year of high school, I definitely had a plan for my life. I was going to be a famous actor and bring glory to God by garnering lots of wealth and fame. I figured that God wanted to use my name in lights to shine his light onto the darkness of Hollywood. People were going to see my good deeds on stage and on the big screen and praise God because of them.
However, in the dirt of Mexico, my life was forever changed.
It was in that dirt on a summer night in 1997 that I felt God calling me to be a youth pastor. I loved going to youth group but it wasn’t until that moment that I had even considered being a youth pastor. My grandparents had been missionaries and my uncle was a pastor, but I didn’t really see myself going into vocational ministry.
Couldn’t I make a bigger impact for God’s kingdom as a famous actor?
Couldn’t a wealthy actor glorify God as much as a poor pastor?
Wasn’t the applause of an audience the same as a congregation worshipping God?
I don’t doubt that God can use an actor to further his kingdom. I know, though, that I was never going to be that actor. God had different plans for me and he let me in on them that night in Mexico.
I’ve heard a lot of people tell their stories of being called by God to do something. A lot of those stories are inspiring and motivational. My story was nothing like that. My story was filled with tears and anger. I didn’t want to be a youth pastor and I didn’t want to go into ministry. I wanted to be an actor; that was my plan and I wanted God to get on board with it.
Looking back now I can see that I was wrestling with God, like God’s people have been wrestling with him from the beginning. I wasn’t really wrestling with an issue of occupation but of surrender. In that moment God was asking me to surrender my life to him and give him control.
I wrestled and I cried.
I fought and I gritted my teeth.
I stood my ground and I crossed my arms.
Eventually I couldn’t kick out any longer and God pinned me. God’s calling on my life was like a Stone Cold Stunner and I had no choice but to submit.
Actually I did have a choice. I could have chosen to ignore God’s call on my life and not surrender my will to his. Considering where I am right now, though, I’m glad I chose wisely. I’m glad I chose to surrender my life to God and respond to his calling upon my life. Because his grace enabled me to do that, I now have opportunities to invest in the lives of students, taking them on mission trips to Guatemala.
I may never hear crowds cheering my name, but hopefully I’ll hear God say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
When has God called you to surrender to his will? How did you respond?