God turns our situation to point in a direction that He has planned for us.
‘Calling’ is a mystical term thrown around – in church and in missions - that can imply that a few select, holy people among us are called for a higher cause while the rest of us stay behind feeling less worthy or special.
It’s important to know what ‘calling’ truly means because a misunderstanding can make people either think less of themselves, envy the ones who are living out their calling or just feel left out.
Another misconception is that God’s calling has to be remarkably dramatic for us to be absolutely sure that we are called for a particular cause. This is an issue many of us wrestle with at some point in our lives.
I do feel a call to serve in cross-cultural missions. I know God wants me to go overseas with my parents. But what is it that makes me feel or know that this is my calling?
Did Jesus appear to me in a grandiose vision asking me to go overseas? No. Did I have a dream so vivid that I’m convinced to go overseas and serve the Lord? No. Have I received a prophetic message through a faithful servant of God? No. The Lord sometimes may speak in these ways, but these are not the only ways God reveals His plans on us.
I take confidence in the fact that all of us who believe in Jesus are called to be involved in the Great Commission, but many of us may not experience such direct or precise encounters with God. I have experienced nothing of the sort that could constitute such direct indication that I’m called to serve the Lord in a distant land, and I’m okay with it. But what then makes me confident enough to step out?
1. God unfolds His Plan in my life, one obedient step at a time
Being in a state of uncertainty is honestly not all too bad. It’s not like God reveals specific tasks to us at the very moment we accept Jesus in our lives. It’s a process. Step by step His plans unfold before us. All we have to do is to be patient because sometimes we ought to live with our uncertainties as part of God’s plan.
I’m comfortable admitting that I’m not sure of what specific ministry God is calling me to do in my mission field, but the Lord has given me enough to believe that I’m headed in the right direction.
2. God had been preparing me long before I knew
As I was planning to write this article, Psalm 66 verses 10 to 12 came to my mind.
“10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. 11 You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs;12 you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:10-12
These verses remind me of all those times I traveled with my family for the sole purpose of serving the Lord to places distant and nearby; of all those nerve-racking and life-threatening situations we faced; and of all those times when we were given rest only embark on our next journey.
For decades, the Lord has been using our whole family for His purposes which involved traveling both locally and cross-culturally. Although the traveling we did was largely domestic, still the experience was at par with actual mission work. As a young girl, even moving to a different city meant leaving the comfort of my home, adjusting to a distinct culture, building friendships anew, and so on and so forth. We were missionaries without being called “missionaries”.
Standing at this juncture, I look back and it all suddenly makes so much sense to me. I can’t help but think that God had been preparing me all this while for missions.
3. My Circumstances Changed Drastically
Our circumstances are often an indication of God’s calling for us. God turns our situation to point in a direction that He has planned for us. There’s something so beautiful about knowing that God has been working in my life, ruling out all distractions, one by one, that are pulling me in all directions. One after another, doors were slammed shut in my face, except for one.
As my family began to sense God’s call to serve overseas, I was initially reluctant to walk through it, even though it was the only door wide open for me. My thoughts were clouded with uncertainty, but one thing I’m glad I did was take things slow. I didn’t rush. I didn’t force myself to make a decision there and then. I waited until the clouds rolled by and I could assess things more clearly.
As the Lord organised for my circumstances to point in just one direction, it was accompanied by peace in my heart and that was a strong indication that God wants me where I’m headed.
4. God Spoke Through Other Believers
I was initially reluctant to accept God's will in my life, and I had decided to simply follow my parents to the mission field with no specific plan in my mind. I would help my parents fill out their forms and be present during their meetings with Pioneers InAsia, making sure they don’t miss out on any important details.
Around that time, a good family friend of mine, a believer, asked me to consider whether God was also calling me to join Pioneers as a missionary. What if I were an important part of what God is doing in moving my parents overseas?
Later on, other people advised along the same lines and I wondered what it is that they were seeing that I was perhaps, not seeing. And all this while, Pioneers kept its door open for me to join, which was yet another confirmation.
That is when I began praying about this matter, and eventually joined Pioneers’ Pre-Candidate Orientation Training (PCOT) following the Candidate Orientation Program (COP) to train as a missionary and become a member of Pioneers InAsia. This is precisely the series of events that later led me to be involved with the Pioneers mobilisation team as a writer too.
During the course of my training, I found my heart not resisting the idea anymore. My excitement has been doubled since then and I can’t wait to go to my mission field. I sense God confirming His plans in my life as he opens my heart to His will.
Although I still have no clue as to how exactly I’d be serving in my mission field, I know that this is where God wants me to be. The rest will unfold in its time, and I’m not in a rush.