When making my New Year resolutions, I was excited. A new year, new start. It’s like a final delicious Christmas present!
“What do I need to do?” I asked myself. I’m not really a deep thinker - nothing profound over here - but I want my life to count, you know? Cheesy as it may sound, I really do want to change the world.
So, I made my list. Now, as I look back, I wonder if they were just words brought on by a strong cup of Joe … or if they were a contract. The ink was barely dry before God began to move.
“This is the year to completely trust in God,” I wrote:
“Follow God’s leading with no regrets.”
“Be an instrument in His Hands.”
“Tell people about Jesus.”
Those were some of the resolutions on my list.
On January 1, I began to pray all these things. Within days, I felt a tug about a mission trip to Kenya. That may sound wonderful to you, but I had a long list of why that was way too far away for me. “WHAT?!” I asked God out loud and laughingly gave Him an itemized account of what He would have to do to make that happen. Had I thrown down a gauntlet? Was I challenging or even daring God to move and make it happen?
But…this is my year to completely trust in God! Right? This is my year to follow God’s leading with no regrets! This is my year to be an instrument in His Hands and tell people about Jesus! I’ve read the book What Would Jesus Do and even had the bracelet. What if, for one year, I fully surrendered to God’s call? Aren’t followers of Christ supposed to be doing that already?
I’m a “fleecer” like Gideon (Judges 6), so I prayed for absolutely clear signs. I can’t go halfway around the world without being sure!
Some prayers have taken 10 full years to be answered, while some prayers God jumps on like a ninja - the words have barely cleared my lips and He is putting things in action. Signs began turning up for me in bulk! “This” came up from our first mission trip. Then “that” came up from a mission trip to Poland. Everything pointed to missions, missions, missions. I hadn’t spoken a word to ANYONE but God! I was praying and watching.
On Sunday morning, the first song was “Where You Go, I’ll Go.” (Of course, it was.) The chorus said, “Where You go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay. When you move, I’ll move. I will follow You.” I got chills, but no one knew it. Then in his sermon, my beloved gave us encouragement for the new year. One of his points was, “Do the next thing God asks or tells you to do.” I wrote it in the margin of my Bible. Suddenly, he pointed to me and said, “You need to go on that mission trip!” What?! We hadn’t even talked about it! Did he just point to me? Or was there someone behind me that needed to go on a mission trip?
On Sunday afternoon, just before evening services, I was watching “Sister Act 2.” The young choir in the movie was singing “Joyful, Joyful, Lord We Adore Thee” - a song our youth sang on a mission trip in the mid-90’s. My husband came rushing into the room and said, “You need to plan on going to Kenya!” I burst into tears! We had not spoken of it!
God worked so many puzzle pieces together! Holy Smokes! He did some really cool things and now guess who’s on the Kenya team!
As soon as I committed to go, within 24 hours, the devil began to plague my mind with what-ifs. I mean straight up attacks of fear and dread, and not even about ME! I lay awake that night terribly concerned that my beloved would be mugged while I was away. I mean, seriously! It was spiritual warfare. In bed, I went through the motions of putting on my helmet of salvation! Whew! I whispered my favorite “Be strong” verses.
When we plan to do anything at all in obedience to the Lord, the devil reacts. It’s like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I hate the devil!
I’m a little nervous about a trip to Africa, to be honest. I like sitting on my comfy couch in comfy clothes and fuzzy socks, right in my comfort zone drinking a good cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with the creamer I like. I like sleeping in my own bed, having a handle on my day, knowing exactly what to expect. But where’s the adventure in that?! What world can I change there?
Dawn Reed is a newspaper columnist and pastor's wife in Prestonsburg. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.