I distinctly remember the gnawing ache in my stomach as we pulled out into our daily territory. Businesses made it worse, Hispanic shops made it better, but any kind of territory brought about this reaction. Canvassing terrified me.
Still, (are you surprised?) it gave way to powerful experiences*. I learned that God could use me on the spot, that He can use someone who is at level 1 of prayer and faith (i.e. me…still), and that He only has greater gifts to give if I’m only willing to receive them. After sensing the Holy Spirit so strongly, being convinced I talked with angels, and being used to clear barriers on the path to Jesus, how in the world could I do anything else? It was hard, it was overwhelming, but it was purposeful. It was glory.
I left those ten weeks to do a missionary training program. How was this both harder and more glorious? Seeing a dear friend bury her life in baptism and rise in Christ was worth it all. Making 10+ lifelong siblings through trials and victories was worth it. All was worth it. All was swallowed up in glory. Okay really, how can you top this?
Still, I doubted. It even seemed to get worse. At every single transition, especially those in which I had so grown, I’d hesitate in dread: where I am is so purposeful. I’m useful here. I’ve figured it out. I know that I’m serving God here. How can I serve purposefully in college? How can I serve Him through the routine of teaching? How can I live a life of tangible meaning in this mysterious new place?
Then I Bible-worked. Then I went to community college. Then I agreed to run a department for a non-existent organization. Then I agreed to do after-care and part-time teaching in Maryland. Now I’m full-time teaching in Virginia.
That’s what each transition looked like from the onset. Cut and dry. No meaning. No purpose. No real service. In hindsight, though?
Then I Bible-worked and became enthralled with expounding the word of God and loving those who had shunned the Bible and its adherents. Then I went to community college and started an Adventist campus ministry, grew in leadership, served harder then I knew I could. Then I ran meaningful service projects all over the world with R3, preached for a youth conference, made lifelong friends, and gained a global perspective. Then I fell in love with teaching, young people, and carefully-constructed learning in Maryland. . Now I’m teaching in Virginia, and I feel like I’m doing as much ministry as an overseas missionary.
I’m now standing on the cusp of another transition. Into the new year, I’ll change continents, relationship status, and probably even career paths. What if I don’t know how things work in Kenya? I’ve read like all the books, but how do I find consistent meaning in being a wife? And this new career, what if I hate it? What if I only miss teaching?
I don’t have the answers for these questions yet. Yet and still, I’ve learned that I serve God here the same way I served God there: by doing what I know and trusting He’ll guide me in what I don’t. I don’t have to know the script of my life and how it plays out, because I know the Author. That’s all I need.
Purpose looks different in every circumstance, in every human, in every place. What looks so ordinary, mundane, and predictable can be transformed with a surrendered life. It really can. It’s okay if the current or coming-up season of life is drastically different from what you’re used to. Obey God in what you know. Trust Him with it all. He is a trustworthy God, even in the unexpected and the new.