They say that hindsight is 20/20 and my, my, is it ever true. I would like to think that had I known then what I know now, I would have embarked on this overseas life a little less reserved, much more objective, and way more prepared. But there is a part of me that wonders – had I known then what I know now, would I have even embarked at all?
Because can I just be honest with you? It has been HARD – sometimes hard to the nth degree. I had little support emotionally going into this. My only insight into cross-cultural work came in a class that met every third Wednesday night for middle-school aged girls. Oh, and let me not forget those two short-term trips that I’d take on the cusp of my twenties. I went to a secular college, had no formal ministry training, and erroneously thought being a pastor’s wife meant a cornucopia of trusted connections, not this liberal ache of unspoken lonely.
So how on earth did this untrained, unqualified, unconventional girl from the foothills of Kentucky end up in an overseas life of ministry, you ask? And going on twenty years, nonetheless? No worries. I ask myself those same questions at least once a day. Partly because the enemy still has a way of creeping in and sowing doubts in my mind. And partly because, by asking, it causes me to stand amazed at how God has one-upped every doubt that I’m not good enough, every fear that I’m not capable enough, and every hesitation that I am not readied enough. He’s eclipsed them all with the one tool that teaches me, that rebukes me, that corrects me, and that trains me up in righteousness – His Word. (2 Tim 3:16)
When I look into His Word, it’s chock full of people just like me. People that had no formal training yet still heeded His calling on their lives. People who the world would deem unqualified yet still were willing to go. People who may have been unconventional yet were deliberately being molded in the hands of the Potter.
People like Peter and John. Acts 4:13 tell us, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” When Jesus called Peter and John, they were untrained, having no degrees or prior experience. They had the privilege of on-the-job training by walking with Jesus, experiencing His will and His way firsthand. These past twenty years taught me that I have the same opportunity as Peter and John – to daily walk with the Word through the Scriptures so that I, too, may be trained in righteousness.
Then, there are people like Moses. I so relate with Moses’ reaction to the calling of God. I mean, didn’t you make some of these same arguments when God called you to this overseas life?
“Who am I that I should go…?” (Exodus 3:11)
“What if they will not believe me or take seriously what I say?” (Exodus 4:1)
“Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past…” (Exodus 4:10)
“Please, Lord, send someone else.” (Exodus 4:13)
Moses argued every reason that he believed should disqualify him from the call of God. And I have too:
“Who am I that I should go? I never attended Bible College.”
“What if they don’t take me seriously because I am a foreigner?”
“Surely, Lord, my strong southern accent may impede any efforts to evangelize.”
“And surely, Lord, isn’t there someone younger with more talent and energy to do the work?”
I could go on and on with arguments that come from a place of my own strength. But this continual training in righteousness is a supernatural place to be. It has nothing to do with my aptness or my credibility or my own abilities.
In fact, it has everything to with God supernaturally transforming me from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor 3:18) – in whatever way He so chooses. So if you are feeling unqualified, be empowered by His words to Moses in Exodus 3:12, “Certainly I will be with you.”
And for good measure, there are people like Abraham, whose family must have thought he lost His mind to leave everything and everyone when God called him. Abraham went, even though, Hebrews 11:8 tells us, he did not know where he was going. I don’t know about you, but where I’m from, people don’t leave. So I might have heard those five stinging words before venturing out to the unknown: “Have you lost your mind?”
We surely serve a God who uses the unconventional though. He used Rahab, a prostitute, to protect the spies. He used young David to defeat Goliath – with just a stone. He used timid Gideon to conquer the Midianite army, despite a huge numerical disadvantage. And He used the virgin Mary to birth the Messiah, the Savior of the world! It seems the more the unconventional, the greater His glory is revealed.
So yes, there will be days in this overseas life that you deem yourself untrained, unqualified, and unconventional. And that’s okay. On those days, thank God. As Corrie Ten Boom rightly states, “God is training you for something.”
Is there a particular passage of Scripture that the Holy Spirit is using in this season of your life to train you in righteousness?