(Mrs. Wallingford, Shirley, Me)
Let me tell you about the most wonderful woman I met in Moscow. Before heading to Geneva and after I left Saint Petersburg, I stopped by Moscow for a couple of days. I has originally planned to stay in a hostel during my time in Moscow but at the request of my thoughtful and wise boyfriend, stayed with a missionary family just outside of downtown Moscow. Boy, am I glad I didn’t stay in that hostel!
So anyway, I’m in Moscow, staying with the Wallingfords, and in comes a woman named Shirley, also staying with the Wallingfords. Shirley and her late husband Bud were some of the first missionaries to come to the Soviet Union and then Russia after the Iron Curtain fell. She joined Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) in the very early days and knew Bill and Vonnette Bright well, the founders of Cru. I had the privilege of spending a whole day with her and listened to the stories of her life.
Shirley told me about how she became a Christian, her discernment process in becoming a missionary, how she met her husband and knew that he was the man God had prepared for her to marry, and story after story of how God has used her in the mission field! What makes Shirley’s life so intriguing to listen to is that all her stories are centered on Christ. She has lead a life of complete surrender and seen the fruit of laboring for the Lord. Shirley has followed Paul’s advice, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the Glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).” Judy invited God in, let Him take control, and saw the fruit of following His commandment to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).”
I’ve been struggling with discerning my calling for the future. I have a few ideas of jobs that might interest me, but I don’t feel a strong conviction toward a particular trade or place. This has troubled me for some time. In fact, I think last month was the most anxious I’ve been about the topic of “the future” in a while, maybe ever. As I near graduation next year, the questions of what I will do next year hit me more frequently and with greater force. I’ve felt like a shmuck just shrugging my shoulders and answering “I don’t know” to the question of what I’ll do next year so I’ve defaulted to picking the most recent train of thought on the subject as a way out of sharing where my heart is really at. No more of that. God can use where I am right now for His glory.
So here are a few lies from the world that I bought into and would like to call out:
- I need to pick a career that will give me financial security
If there is anything I have learned in college, it is that God will provide exactly what we need when we need it. He is a good father and that is the ultimate security- knowing that He is loves me and died on the cross for my sins. How could I, even for a second, doubt that he would provide financially when it is He who gives me life? I asked Judy about her thoughts on retirement and she looked at me as if to say “why would anyone do that?” She’s 100% right. If you know that Jesus is the Lord, and have devoted all that you do to make that truth known, why would you ever retire? Why would you ever stop sharing the love of Christ with others? The world says to work for a while till you’ve saved enough and don’t’ have to, but Jesus says “abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bare fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me (John 15:4).” Why would you ever want to stop bearing fruit? I could search after money and financial security, and I have, but it would all be for not. For Jesus commanded “do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life (John 6:27).”
- I should have a 5 year plan
What good are my plans? It is a loss to spend time planning and thinking about what I want to do rather than surrendering my life like Judy, “for we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)!” God knows me better than I know myself, for he formed my inward parts and covered me in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139: 13). What a loss it would be to settle for my own plans! My Dad once asked me, “Do you want to be part of Lizzie-sized plans or God-sized plans?” I’d choose the latter. The wildest things I could imagine do not compare to the glory that He brings, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me (Psalm 139:6).”
- I need to do something that will give me clout
I look not to the world for affirmation but to Him and Him alone. He tells me “do not fear therefore; you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31).” This is not to say that I am some perfect human. In fact, quite the opposite is true. I am broken and so very weak. Yet as I decrease, He increases! I find that what the world thinks of me is worthless because His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”
- Now is the time to be selfish
This is advice I got when I was choosing colleges and there is absolutely nothing in the Bible to support it. We are called to have a servants mindset, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28).” There is a never a time to be selfish, only opportunity to deny yourself and take up your cross to follow Him (Matthew 6:24).
- I can fix the world
At Smith, I hear motivated women call out injustice and commit their lives to fighting for a better tomorrow. While this is a noble cause, their crusade cannot last because God is not at the center. By my own strength I can do little, but He can transform the world. For “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17).” The message of Christ can bring the healing that this world so desperately needs, “for God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17).”
So I approach this coming semester without any idea of what might happen but such excitement for what God has in store. I trust that He will use this time for His glory and surrender my life so that He may use it to bless others. There is a reason that I am on this earth and not with Him in heaven. I am placed here and filled with the truth. Let His kingdom reign!