Wednesday, March 15, 2017
“If God gives you something you can do, why in God's name wouldn't you do it?” ― Stephen King (yes, that Stephen King)
Everyone who has gone to college or graduate school has had to take at least one course that they didn't want to take. However, because of timing, scheduling conflicts, or just forgetting what was needed for graduation, you discovered that you had to take a course you had avoided like the plague. With me, it was the missions course in seminary. I knew I would never, ever become a missionary and would spend the rest of my life as a simple parish pastor worrying only about the needs of a small community, or at least those were my plans (God’s plans were yet to be discovered). I suffered through the beginning of that course, and then began to really enjoy it. I still had no intention of ever becoming a missionary, but my understanding of the word mission had changed. The professor and I got along very well, and, over the past twenty years, she has followed my career. I'm sure she was quietly pleased to discover that the student who had fought and struggled against the very concept of missions had become a missionary. We have still communicated over the years I have been here in Africa. She went on to become the Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission at Boston University as well as the director of the Center for Global Christianity and Christian Mission. She, Dr. Dana Robert, invited me to be the mission speaker at the Center and at the seminary in the spring of 2013 and I went (they paid for the airfare and accommodations). Not only had I become a missionary, I was the “Missionary in Residence” for a week at the Boston University School of Theology. It was a great week, as I taught classes, was interviewed on film, and met with many individual students thinking about missions. I was also named a distinguished alumnus. I’m sure God was laughing as I fulfilled His plans and not my own. I never thought I would say, "Here I am, Lord, send me.", but I did! Without taking that course I didn't want to take, I don't think I would have listened to God's call. Happily, I took that course, listened to the call, and followed where I was led. It was a good thing. It was a God thing. What have you been avoiding that may be God calling you? It is far better to walk through the doors God opens than to resist and end up getting thrown through them. Believe me, I’ve done it both ways and walking is better than being thrown, although either way you get where God wants you and not where you think you ought to be. Look for open doors!