Last year when I came across that verse it really stuck with me. Those words, “Here am I. Send me!” I kept thinking about them. Send me where? I wasn’t really sure what God wanted from me or if He even wanted to send me somewhere. For some reason, though, that verse really stuck with me. As always, I put a lot of thought into it and then accused myself of over thinking things. Then I thought about it and asked myself: If God told me to go somewhere, to drop everything and just leave, would I go? I wanted to say that I would, but that is a lot easier said than done when you are actually presented with the opportunity to go. Part of me really wanted Him to send me. The other part didn’t think He actually would or that I was being called to go anywhere. That’s something people just tell themselves so they can justify leaving. God wouldn’t really tell me to go anywhere, but if he did I would go?
The year went on and the whole “send me” thing was just a thought in the back of my head. I figured that if God wanted me to go somewhere He would make sure I end up there. As a college student, this is a time in my life where I have the opportunity to study abroad. Studying abroad is something I’ve heard great things about and the thought has always been appealing, but would it be something that I would actually do? How could I possibly travel to a different country and leave my friends, family and everything I’ve ever known for an entire semester? Four months of my life spent in an unfamiliar culture surrounded by strangers? No thanks! However, As the year went on, my heart started to change. I felt really dry in my faith and realized that I wasn’t going out of my way for God. I really struggled with not understanding how God works and I questioned what He wanted me to do.
Going to a private christian college has its pros, but man it also has its cons. Seeing and hearing other people share their faith can be great, but sometimes it can get old and you start to see it all as phony and it causes you to question things. People would tell me about all these things that God was telling them to do. I would listen, and sure God is working in their lives, but when I thought about it I realized how easy it is it say that. How easy it is to say that God is working in our lives, but do we really believe that? I struggled with the question: Is it God or is it me? Is God telling me to do this? or am I telling myself to do it and then saying it is God? Is God really telling these people these things? How do we really know? When we say that God is doing something in our lives or that He is calling us to do something, are we saying so to glorify God? Are we saying that because we actually believe that? Or are we doing it to boast about our faith and to glorify ourselves?
Having doubts about God and whether or not He is leading me to go somewhere created fear within my own life. Last year I let it become an excuse. I justified not wanting to go abroad and the fear of traveling somewhere alone by using the excuse that God isn’t telling me to go. However, in reality He hasn’t stopped telling me to go. Out of my own fear I was ignoring the voice of God. It wasn’t until this past summer when I realized that He, in reality, did want me to go. I just wasn’t willing to accept it. I used every possible excuse to not go. Excuses such as “My parents don’t want me to go and would never allow it” and “there are thousands of places I could go, I’ll probably choose the wrong place.” I told myself that I would never survive four months away from home all by myself and that I would never be able to handle it. Then I started letting all these doubts and fears keep me from trying, however I couldn’t get rid of the thought in my head that I needed to go. I researched just about every possible program, but dropped it for a while when summer came around.
I worked up north at a bible camp and focused on ministry and served for the summer. I only went home for one full day over the course of working there. The one day I spent at home, I was haunted by the pile of abroad catalogs in my bedroom. I decided to talk to my parents about it. I brought it up to my dad for the first time and, just as I feared, he rejected the entire idea. He basically told me that going abroad was a horrible idea. He also told me that it was already bad enough that I was working at camp all summer because I wasn’t making much money. His words stuck with me. He told me that going abroad isn’t something I am capable of doing and that I was already wasting my summer by cooking s’mores with kids. He told me that’s not going to get me far in life. I almost let his words ruin me. The fact that he didn’t support me and that he didn’t see the value in the ministry I was a part of hurt me really bad.
I was so offended by what my dad said that went to my room and started crying. I couldn’t believe that he told me I was wasting my time at camp and that he didn’t even give the idea of studying abroad a chance.That was when I realized that it was time to give it up to God and that everything was out of my control. I realized that I was battling too many doubts and obstacles. I was crying out to God. I told Him that if He wanted me to go, He had to make this easier and less confusing because I don’t have the ability to do this on my own. I told Him I didn’t want to choose where to go; it was too overwhelming. I told God that He would have to work within my parents in order for them to allow me to go if that’s what He wanted. I told Him that wherever He wanted me, I would be there. If He wanted me to stay where I am, I would stay and serve Him at my University. If His plan was for me to go somewhere, I asked Him to reveal to me where by narrowing it down and make it possible. I didn’t see it working out without His help. I felt as though everything was working against me. So I told Him to have His way with me. “Here I am, Send me! Wherever that is; overseas or here in Minnesota.” From then on, I stopped stressing out and over thinking it all because at this point, God would have me wherever He wanted me.
It’s crazy how everything started falling into place as soon as I wholeheartedly gave it up to God. Later that week, I was at camp having the best week of my summer. This was the week that I experienced the power of prayer in a whole new way. Through prayer, I had a CIT who was changed by God during the course of that week. Ask me about it sometime, it was incredible. Through prayer, I had a camper come to know Christ and she made a commitment to follow Him. That week, I saw God work in the lives of my campers and I felt the power of God working. I KNOW THAT SOUNDS CRAZY! I feel crazy even writing it. I wish it was something that everyone could experience, it was actually ridiculous. Anyway, later that week I received an email from my dad. In the email, he told me that he called my university and talked to someone from the abroad office. He had gone out of his way to find out more information about how studying abroad works. In the email he also gave me the email and phone number of the woman from the office and that I can work with her to figure out more information. WHAT!!!??? This is literally a few days after he told me that he didn’t support me or the idea of me going abroad and was completely against it. Now he was trying to help me!!?? How did God do that!!?? I have no idea, but I know it was Him!
Long story short, after much more prayer I was directed to where God wanted me to go. It was my last week at camp and I wasn’t fully sure where I was going but I had an idea in the back of my head: Costa Rica. No idea how, but for some reason out of all of the places in the world, that was the only one that stuck consistently. It’s hard to explain, but a few different things led me to Costa Rica. Anyway, the speaker that week just happened to be the pastor of the church that I grew up in when I was young. I hadn’t talked to him in years and so we talked at dinner one of the last nights of the week and he asked me about what I was up to in life and what God was doing. I shared with him about this abroad thing and he looked at me seriously and said, “If you want to go someplace where God can use you for ministry; San Jose, Costa Rica.” Sure enough, There was a program in San Jose that fit my class requirements and it was approved.
I still had that doubt of whether or not it was my calling, but then I thought about how many obstacles were removed and how much prayer was answered. I realized that in this situation I was given the opportunity that I didn’t think was ever going to happen for me. God made it clear by removing everything that had been in my way and showing me where to go. I was standing on the edge of a very big decision. It was when I was put in the situation where I realized that the only thing that would stop me from going was my own fear. It comes back to my original question: If God told me to go somewhere, to drop everything and just leave, would I go? Now that I am literally in that position am I going to be faithful and say yes? Well, my flight leaves on February 28th for San Jose!