When most people think of a missionary, they have a particular image in mind. Perhaps, of a woman who always has her Bible in tow or a man with printed scripture on his shirt. This person, on their mission from Christ, will boast his name to anyone: a stranger on a train, the youngster bagging groceries at the local market, the one person no one else wants to talk to because he looks so angry…perhaps he is.
Definition of a missionary: a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.
I believe this definition is the most common of all. Even I am guilty of thinking it. When I hear the word missionary, I immediately think of this selfless being, trekking across one foreign region and then another, professing the name of Jesus to anyone who will listen and to those who won’t. I think of people graciously volunteering their time to build homes, shelters and schools in desolate countries. Men and women traveling across the world to feed starving children and provide clean drinking water to those without access to the one thing we—in America—have running freely. This is, by no means, meant to diminish the work of such individuals. In fact, I admire them, revere them even. They are called to do an extraordinary work and the strength of character, of faith, of drive, is something I can hardly fathom rising up in my spirit to do such things. My tender heart would break at every turn, every sad face, every torn spirit.
So, what about the rest of us? What about those of us who aren’t called, and frankly, haven’t the desire to travel overseas to build, feed and clothe the less fortunate? What of us who haven’t the skill to write a song, play an instrument or dig a well. What could our mission be if we don’t have the skill of a handyman, the degree of a scholar or the creative aptitude sought after by organized mission-focused companies? What are we to do to grow the Kingdom of God? I don’t have the answer for the masses but I’m certain God can and will answer us if we think to ask. I asked, and he gave me an answer I hadn’t expected and, in truth, I still don’t have the complete picture of his “answer” for me. We are all gifted with talents or a propensity for something: words (my thing), numbers (not my thing), art, public speaking, athleticism, sensitivity, cooking…something. No one is left out, even though we often feel that way…and by “we,” I mean, I.
For seventeen years I’d worked in a field I loved, that is, until I didn’t. I wanted to do something else, but what? I had no training, no fancy plaques or ornate certificates—not even in the arena for which I’d worked—attesting to my knowledge of, well, anything. It seemed unrealistic that I had a purpose apart from what God had already given me, if that were even it. So I asked him, sort of.
“This can’t be it,” I said. “This can’t be all you have for me. I want to do something else, tell me what to do.”
Being the God that he is, he did just that. In a dream, he gave me my next career. He didn’t come to me and say: “You’re going to do ______.” He simply started me on a path without my ever knowing exactly where that path would lead. That “thing” he gave me, that “thing” I never considered or thought I’d do, is now the only thing I want to do. I’m still in awe. Oddly enough, a few years later, I’ve found myself at the same intersection of ‘what do I do now?’ Once again, God has started me on a path without telling me where it will lead or how I will get there. He’s daring me to trust him. Challenging me to follow him. Whether or not I can see my hand in front of my face is irrelevant.
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and light for my path.” Psalm 119:105 (New Living Translation)
“Your word is a lamp before my feet and a light for my journey.” Psalm 119:105 (Common English Bible)
“By your words, I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” Psalm 119:105 (Message Version)
Whichever translation you choose, the message remains the same. The promise of light is clear. The dare has the same edge, even in the darkness and especially when you can’t see. So, that’s what I’m doing. Despite not having a blueprint of God’s plan, not just for my life, for my rather immediate situation, I’m trusting him. He hasn’t told me where to go or what to do or how I’ll get there, He’s only said it’s time to move. On that note, I shuffle one foot in front of me and await instruction. He’s given me tasks to complete in preparation. Preparation for what? A journey. To where? The unexpected.
~The Mapless Traveler