Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. ~Jeremiah 1:4-5
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.~Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. ~Isaiah 49:5
One of the kids here at The Mansion had the privilege of going to Chili this summer on an Apostolic Youth Corp trip. Every year the General Youth Division sponsors a child from here to go; this year she was the lucky one. I've been in charge of watching her dorm a lot lately, which has provided ample opportunity for her to ask the many questions she has had for me regarding her desire for future involvement in missions. I've came to the conclusion that if this were the only reason God brought me to TCM, to speak encouragement, advice, and direction into this young lady's life, that in itself would have made it all worthwhile.
Today, while looking through her pictures from the trip, my mind took a trip down memory lane...I received my calling to the mission field at the age of 16, and God dealt with me specifically about Europe when I was 21, but my first mission trip, when I was 17, was when I decided that every decision I made there after needed to be in alignment with and in preparation for what God was calling me to do. It wasn't a trip to Europe, but to Trinidad, a country not too extremely different culturally nor geographically from the one this girl I've been mentoring went on, but very different from the place God would later deal with me about.
In this blog, I usually try to steer clear of sharing things God has spoken to me specifically, but, I believe what I am about to share may be important for someone to hear, therefore, I am going to be a bit more transparent than I am normally comfortable with.
Recently God spoke a word of prophesy to me during a service that "There was something I've known possibly my whole life, and that God didn't want me to question it anymore." I knew immediately that it was talking about the calling God has placed on my life. I believe anyone with a calling involving leaving everyone and everything you love and are familiar with is going to question it at least a little. They're going to make sure they have understood 100% correctly. Why else leave it all unless God has truly spoken?!
So, I embraced the point of the message and determined to obey it, but the part that lingered with me was the "knowing it my whole life"...Had I? Was this possible? In my finite mind the "calling" happened at 16. In my finite mind.
A few weeks later, I realized that, while that was when I submitted to God's will, His will, the specific path He had desired for me to walk down, had been in His plans...my whole life. I realized this during a message at Louisiana campmeeting, that Bro. Graham preached. He talked about how when Jesus called Phillip, He was already thinking of Nathaniel: "Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee." ~John 1:48 In Bro. Graham's message he was making the point that, from the time we are born, God has a specific destiny for us...Who was God thinking about when you were born? At the end of the message he asked a few questions...the first one: "What country were you born for?!"
When he spoke those words, it was like, for the first time ever, my entire existence, every year of Bible quizzing, every year of Bible school, exchange students whom I would always "just click with" during high school and college, my first memory of a church service being that of a missionary to China speaking...It just ALL made sense. In one simple sentence,a man who, coincidently(?) had chaperoned that first mission trip I attended, had explained it all.
I don't believe God all of a sudden decides "Ok, this is what I've decided..this is what I want you to do...", but, rather, from the time you are born, the process has already began; it's simply a matter of, when He speaks and lets you in on the plan, if you choose to obey.
In conclusion, I would like to share The Message's version of Psalm 139:13-16...which I have already shared in the NIV:
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I'd even lived one day.