“For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the LORD’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s look at quotes from one of my favorite missionary biographies, And the Word Came with Power, a book about the work of Joanne Shelter among the Philippine people.
“I’d dream about the house I’d have some day: a big, beautiful farmhouse with a white fence. Cows would graze on the rolling hills surrounding it. Best of all, my house would be crowded with happy people. Occasionally in my dream, I’d leave my house and friends and go to the hospital where I worked as a nurse, like my mom. To me, it was the perfect life….”
[When I was eleven] “my hand shot up when the Bible club teacher asked who wanted to accept Christ as their Savior. That was the best news I’d ever heard of…. One Sunday a missionary came to our church; he said that 90 percent of the “go-ers,” “tellers,” and “makers-of-disciples” were concentrating on 10 percent of the world’s population…His logic left me weak, but it made sense. I was going to be a missionary—whatever that meant.”
“One day I realized, ‘Going into all the world to preach the gospel’ means I’ll have to live in the jungle!…I argued with God. What about my dream farmhouse, the rolling hills, the nursing? What have I gotten myself into?…But God was unimpressed…[He] wouldn’t accept my inadequacies as an excuse.”
“After months of struggle, I gave in and finally told God, ‘OK, I’ll do it. I’ll do it even if I hate it.’”
“I said goodbye to my farmhouse, my career, my family—everything I’d ever wanted. I let my dream die.”
“As I let go of my dreams, my excitement about being a missionary started to grow.”
So begins a powerful missionary story about a woman who let go of her dreams and instead embraced God’s plan for her life. I encourage you to read the rest of her story in the book, And the Word Came with Power. I hope it will help you to let go of your plans and ask God what plans He has for your life.
Joanne Shelter’s life changed the lives of thousands of people in the Philippines because she dared to follow God and obey Him, to dream His dreams and not her own. After her first five years as a missionary, only two people were converted, but she didn’t quit.
Her determination to follow God through pain, isolation, and loneliness, has been an inspiration to me. I may not see instantaneous results, but that doesn’t mean that my work for God is useless. It may take years, but God will bring about a harvest if I continue to sow seeds for Him.
Prayer: God, please show me how I can be of service to your kingdom. Show me how to use the abilities You have given me for Your glory. Help me to let go of my dreams and to seek Your will for my life. Help me to be patient and to continue to serve You, even when I don’t see immediate results. Amen.