When I came back from serving in the Dominican Republic in 2013, I felt a huge call from the Lord to do missions long-term. In the two weeks I had between returning to the USA and starting my senior year at UGA, I could not get the “anywhere but here” thought out of my mind. I desperately wanted to be serving the Lord and sharing the gospel with people who have not heard it. I started reading Follow Me by David Platt, a book that only furthered my urge to go, and I went as far as looking into options for how to make it possible. And then school started again.
Once I got far enough into my final year of undergrad, I stopped seeking the Lord’s will. I could sugarcoat that, I could say I got busy with school, but ultimately, I stopped seeking God because it was almost easier to take the opportunities that I was being presented with: score well on the GRE? Apply to grad school. Get accepted to grad school? Go. Doors were opening for me, and I went through them, never realizing that just because an opportunity presents itself, you don’t need to take it. I continued to put missions on the back burner, so much so that I essentially forgot that that’s what I once knew the Lord was calling me to.
This morning, I had a conversation with my college pastor at church about life lately. He asked how post-dropping-out-of-grad-school life is going (he was one of the people who knew just how miserable I was last semester), and I told him it is great (because it truly is). We started talking about what’s next for me, and I told him I’m tentatively back in the spot I was at a year and a half ago when I felt called to long-term missions. “I’m still not sure,” I told him, “but I’ve been really convicted lately by what I’ve been reading and sermons I’ve listened to.” His response: “Well, I hate to be the guy that’s going to confirm it for you, but people do say that when you ignore God’s call on your life, he will make you miserable until you listen to him.” Ha.
I’ve been thinking about that tonight – about whether God was making me miserable last semester so that I’d start seeking him more fervently again – and I remembered Jonah. Jonah was commanded by God: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” Instead of obeying, Jonah ran away from the Lord, and as a result, God turned Jonah’s life upside-down. Jonah literally got swallowed by a fish because he did not obey the Lord’s command. Yep, I am Jonah. At least for me, I didn’t get swallowed by a fish; instead, I was drowning in the misery of grad school. It also took me a lot longer than 3 days to repent and obey the Lord. Jonah repents during his time in the fish, is vomited back up, and then the word of the Lord comes to him again, commanding him to go to Nineveh. This time, he obeys.
I can’t figure out why there are times that I just decide to ignore what God is telling me. What I do know is that I’m starting to feel stuck, and the only times I ever feel stuck with where I’m at is when I’m yearning to truly obey the Great Commission. David Platt said, “We have taken the costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations, and morphed it into a comfortable call for Christians to come, be baptized, and listen in one location.” I don’t want that to be my life. I don’t want to sit back and listen and pretend everything is great when I know I’m called to more – we all are. I have no idea what or where my Nineveh is, but this time I plan to listen to the Lord.