February 13, 2012
Author's Note: My husband and I are in our final semester of seminary. In some ways it feels like a race to the finish; in others, we are slowly passing through in search of what might be next for us. With this “Finishing Well” series, I invite you to join us in the final months of seminary. I encourage you to consider your own calling and the place in your journey with the Lord where you find yourself. I look forward to hearing where our story might resonate with yours!
I love to finish things up. I receive such an overwhelming satisfaction from the last cup of flour used, the final paper turned in, and the final chapter of a book read. So great is my joy that a friend recently brought to me her mangled tube of toothpaste so that I could share in its completion. Part joke, part gift, I received it and took a photograph before throwing it away. Now I get to the share it with you! Aren’t you lucky. Ha!
I like to see everything come to an end. I like things tidy and filed. So when I see that something isn’t going any further, I write it off and file it away. I assume that’s the end, and I need it to be done so that I can open something new and see that thing all the way through to its end.
Last night, my husband called my attention to how that framework of open or shut, being used or finished, just does not work in life.
God opened the call to spread the Gospel to the world to me in March of 2006. Right before leaving on a short-term missions trip to Bolivia, I heard him speak to me from Isaiah 43. I promptly interpreted verse 5 very personally, Fear not, Megan, for I am with you… bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth… Of course! God was sending me to Bolivia in just a few days! I should break up with my boyfriend, graduate college, and then go overseas for the rest of my life!
I’m not saying that God can’t call someone that definitively or that my experience hearing God’s voice was illegitimate. But what I’m beginning to discover is that March 2006 was an invitation to begin holding before the Lord the willingness to be his witness wherever he would send. His call on my life wasn’t something to “use up” or “complete.”
I didn’t break up with Larry then. He helped me to see that a calling to ministry didn’t necessitate the end of our relationship (Whew!). I went to Bolivia and spent the entire week sick. I did not open any blind eyes that week. After we married that fall, Larry and I pursued joining the staff of an international missions organization. We were all set to train and move overseas when as a team with the folks we were going to work with we all recognized that we did not share the same vision for the country. We had a vision more for church planting than hostel ministry, but we were completely unqualified to start a church. So I closed the “Spain story” in my mind and opened the “seminary story.”
The point is—I thought that coming to seminary meant that the story of overseas missions work was over. In my mind, I had interpreted Isaiah 43 wrong. I had misheard the voice of God. We had pursued going overseas, but when we squeezed out the last hope of moving, it was time to throw that vision away. But I was wrong. I’m beginning to see that God does not view our lives as books that are written one at a time, finishing one before beginning the other. Instead, he can handle a whole lot of pages and chapters in process at the same time. He sees the end result. He knows where the stories merge and flow, interweaving and bringing us to the place of ultimate completion in his story, his eternal story. I like neat and tidy endings, but I’m a work in process, and our lives are ministry in process. There’s more to come…
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