John and I recently signed up to be part of a mission team going to Estonia in the fall. We are so excited to go and know God has called us for THIS trip at THIS time. After we’d signed up and paid our initial down payment my friend called and asked me if I wanted to go on the women’s mission trip to Italy our church is doing the month after the Estonia trip. I had somehow missed the announcement this other trip was coming up. And even though I knew I was supposed to be, and wanted to be, on the Estonia team this trip to Italy was made for me. The purpose of the Italy trip is to care for and encourage missionary wives. Encouraging women in ministry is my passion! And so I wondered, could I do both? Financially, physically, and emotionally, could I possibly squeeze it all in?
I’d pretty much decided no, I couldn’t do it all but still, there was that lingering thought that maybe, just maybe, I could. And then at church our pastor, Rob Ketterling was talking about how we are always seeking after things that will give us a quick thrill instead of seeking God for his purpose for our lives. So, it got me to thinking again, could I and should I do both? I know God has given me the gift of encouraging others and thus part of my purpose in life is to encourage. It doesn’t hurt that the trip is to Italy either. I mean, come on! That’s just icing on the cake.
So as I sat there in church that Sunday morning I decided I needed to seriously seek the Lord’s instruction and uttered a prayer saying, “Please show me, God. Make it clear if it is even something I should consider.” Almost immediately God dropped a vision into my mind of the missionary women we’ll be working with in Estonia and said, “those girls could use your encouragement, Nancy.” Why did I think I could only encourage the missionary wives in Italy?
The most amazing thing happened shortly thereafter. I was at a fundraising party on Sunday afternoon where I ran into a young woman who’d been on another mission trip with us a couple of years ago. We hugged and chatted a bit and she wondered if we were going on any trips in the near future. When we explained we were going to Estonia she said, “I thought about signing up for that trip.” Of course we encouraged her to join us and she said she’d pray about it. As it turns out, her parents (who are my age) were at the party, too, and I asked our young friend to introduce us. I immediately loved them and her mom said something that just touched me more than you can possibly imagine. She said, “Emily talks about you two all the time. You were such a blessing to her on your trip to Swaziland.”
Truly, I am NOT telling you this to toot my own horn. I’m sharing this because it was essentially the answer to my prayer. In so many words God was saying to me, “Nancy, your purpose can be fulfilled anywhere. You do not need to go to Italy to encourage people. It’s the gift I’ve given you. You can do it anywhere.” God didn’t have to tell me directly, “No, you are not to go to Italy” He simply showed me what he had planned for me in Estonia and the answer was as clear as day. And right away I had an immediate peace. Italy will wait. Perhaps there will be a time when that’s where I’m supposed to go but not this year.
God loves to show us His plans for us. We need merely ask. Don’t expect a booming voice from on high, but He will answer you when you pray when you seek Him with all your heart.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5)