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Birthday update (25!) – Answering the call

Birthday update (25!) – Answering the call

Hey friends! I hope that it is not too weird for me to be the first to post on my wall for my own birthday. I wanted to stop and share a piece of my story with everyone who would wish me well today. God has been bringing a clearer definition to my life as of late, and I want to share the life update with you guys.

This particular story starts when I was 17. I spent the majority of my after-school time at church events. But I was still surprised when God began to make claims on my life. I don’t know exactly when it started, but amidst the tangled and embarrassing mess that makes up a high school boy’s inner thought life, a new image came. With increasing frequency, the image of myself standing before a crowd and speaking God’s Word would come to my mind. It was honestly very confusing. It sounded weird and possibly vain so I never mentioned it to anyone. But it felt nothing like the selfish fantasies that my mind naturally produced. It felt entirely foreign, but try as I might, I could not keep the image out of my head. During my Wednesday night Bible study in particular, the image would return, clearer and stronger each day than it was before.

Six months after this began, my church went on a mission trip/retreat. Late in the week, the speaker gave the altar call – something that I had heard many times before. But on the next day, he gave another call that would change the course of my life. He asked if anyone here felt like God was calling them into ministry. The thoughts and images from the past six months flooded my mind. After a moment of wrestling, I began to raise my hand. Simultaneously, the speaker clarified the call: “Again, if anyone feels called into full time ministry, please raise your hand.” It was too late to turn back. I knew that God had singled me out for something apart from my own plans. He wanted to do something with me that would displace my own hopes and dreams. I had no choice but to answer the call.

When I met with my youth group after the service, I was surprised to find that no one else was surprised by my action. My youth pastor told me that he knew I was going to raise my hand. My parents told me that they had committed me to the Lord as an infant to do whatever He willed. After the trip, I wondered what would happen next. Would I have to give up my dreams of becoming an engineer? Would I ever be able to do the things that I love?

Fast-forward a few years. The same call visits my mind from time to time, but no opportunity has ever clearly presented itself for me to follow. I’m turning 25 today. I have been given everything that I feared I’d have to give up when I raised my hand into the unknown. I went to college and became an engineer. After a handful of friendly rejections, I met the one woman who was crazy enough to marry me. We bought a house a few months ago. We are both working our dream jobs. And we spend four evenings per week with our local church. We are blessed on every side with family and friends. In short, my life is full. Sure I will always want more from life (kids come to mind). But my heart is fully satisfied today with the gifts that God has given.

If God took my life tomorrow, I would not feel cheated. But I would feel cut short, like an arrow that was snatched out of the sky mid-flight. I have faced death once already. I spent a week in the ICU in 2015. My friends and family didn’t know whether I would survive. But God came during that time and reminded me of the call I had received. I knew that my life would not end then because I had not yet fulfilled the purposes that God has for me. I had full confidence then that something greater was on the horizon. The same unwavering hope still fills my heart today.

And that is why I want to share this story today. Many friends have inquired whether God is merely calling me to do church ministry on the side. For many people, (perhaps most) this is all that God asks. I don’t challenge my friends to change their career paths to become missionaries or evangelists. But I am serving at my full capacity and I still feel broken for the world (and America in particular). Glimpses of another call shine through the cracks in my life every day. And it’s getting stronger.

I met with a trusted friend on Monday and shared the whole story. He helped me overcome the fear and anxiety I faced over the unknown, but the call still remains. Every day something draws it nearer. My personal studies the sermons I listen to, the council of friends, every visit to the “real world,” all seem to be converging upon some unknown point in the nearing future.

And that’s where you come in. For my birthday this year, there is one thing I desire most. Leave a note on my Facebook (I promise I’ll read it this year). Give me a gift if you want to. But beyond all that, would you pray for me? My life is full, but it is by no means complete. I am often broken by the incredible weight of an unanswered call. I know that the ministries I partake in are not the only gift I have to give. There is something more for me. Please pray that God will reveal this, or else give me peace in His timing.

To be clear: I have never yet felt inclined to leave my job. As a married man, I will not make a move until both my wife and I are confident in God’s leading. I know that God wastes nothing. God has given me my job, house, friends, and church for a reason. I want to be ready to give all for Christ’s sake, but I do truly doubt that I will be asked to sell all these things we have. If God has more to teach me in this season, then I am willing to wait. If it takes 25 more years for God to bring about the realization of the call that I received, then I want to serve diligently where I can even as I wait. But I truly believe that this next step is near. And I want to be ready to meet it when it arrives.

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