Three and a half years ago I dropped out of school. Why? I wasn’t sure completely, but I knew God was tugging at my heart and telling me that He had other plans. I was halfway doing school, halfway doing church, halfway doing everything and I couldn’t do it anymore. He had stolen my heart, and the passion that was running through my veins was something that I still to this day can’t explain to you. I wanted to focus on Him, I wanted to study His word and gain a firm foundation and understanding of theological truth, I wanted hands on experience doing ministry and ministering, and most of all I wanted to change the world. I was a young idealist, full of passion and energy, that in reality knew very little but was so willing to be used that it didn’t matter.
The last few years have been incredible, it would take me forever to tell you all the stories, the projects, the money raised, the people I’ve met. And yet, there are some days where I wonder if I did the right thing.
Today, by every standard of this world, I am a failure. I am 25, I live with my parents, I work at two restaurants, I dropped out of college, I have a chronic illness that costs me 100’s of dollars a month, I’m not married, and out of all the work and effort and money I have poured out over the last three years, I personally have nothing to show for it. Many people would call this failure. Many Christians would call this failure. At this point in my ‘ministry career’ I should have a position with some church or some ministry in Africa somewhere. Or maybe I should have started my own and have figured how to have other people supporting me. I certainly should not be working at a restaurant, struggling to pay my medical bills and figuring out ‘what’s next’.
I’ve had these conversations over the last few months with several different people. People don’t actually come out and say it, but you hear it in ways like ‘Well, what happened? I thought you would be going back to Africa this summer.’ And then there’s my favorite, ‘Well it’s good you’re going to go back to school, you really need to get focused and get that taken care of.’ And then there are the people who (very well meaning) get pretty direct and say things like ‘You need to be looking for a husband, seriously, someone who would take care of your medical bills.’
I don’t really know the purpose in me writing this, maybe it’s to speak to my own fears and insecurities, maybe it’s to drown out all these voices that seem to be sending doubts my way. The truth is, sometimes I ask myself if I missed something several years ago, if my decisions to do what I’ve been doing were the right ones. If it really is okay to not have anything to show to others for what I’ve done with my time. Some days are very hard, some thoughts are very heavy. There’s a lot that I don’t know and a lot of things that I may never know. But here is what I do know:
When I look back and think of everything I’ve been a part of and every person I’ve come into contact with, I know without a doubt that I would do it all over again. I know without a doubt that I can say I have poured out every thing I’ve had in pursuit of His kingdom, not always perfectly, but to the best of my ability. And the lessons I’ve learned, the growth that has occurred, the refining and molding that He has done…those things are irreplaceable. I know that those things aren’t always able to be shared and shown off in words. I know that He sees. And that we are called to do all things in a way that pleases Him.
So I don’t know if any of these words may speak to your life or your situation. I still have a lot to sort through to understand it all myself. But, if you’re in a place where you’re wondering if it’s worth it, if it has been worth it, if you should have more results to show for your effort…I would encourage you and remind you that we aren’t called to results, we aren’t called to standards of this world, we are called to be faithful and to walk in obedience. That’s the measurement of success for someone following Christ. If you love Him, you will obey Him, and if you obey Him then nothing else matters.