Night after night, I sat in my room, graffiti all over the wall, cold air coming in through the thin windows and a battle raging in my soul. “I can’t do it Lord. I am nobody, with nothing to offer.”
Voices of students partying in the hallway would echo down the corridor. It seemed such a strange place to be hearing the voice of God so clearly in my life and yet it was all I could think about. As fellow classmates headed out to bars, parties and clubs I locked myself in with the Word of God and my daily devotion books; “My Utmost for His Highest” and “Streams in the Desert.” These three books were my constant companions.
I was nineteen years old, living in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I knew very few people and I really wasn’t interested in the course I was doing. I look back now and see the Lord’s hand and purpose in it all. It was a year in which I was simply to live alone with the Lord for I had a decision to make that required everything of me and I had to be sure it was for the Lord alone. I had nobody to turn to but the Lord and His Word. My room had no phone, no internet, no television, just a few posters on the wall trying to cover the graffiti and three books.
Since I was twelve years of age, I had felt this tug at my heart every time a message was taught on serving the Lord and bringing the gospel to the lost. As a young teenager I filled journals chronicling the conviction, the confusion and the conflict of a young heart full of reverence for the Lord Almighty and yet full of fear and doubt of what He may be asking of me.
I read missionary biographies and I listened to many missionary speakers. I had even visited the mission field and I was sure that I was not like the others I had read about. Men of faith, preaching the Word in a foreign language, ladies hiking through war torn borders, carrying children on their back. I could never even see myself witnessing to another person, never mind leaving family and friends and moving across the world alone.
I was the fifteen year old girl afraid to pray out loud. How would the Lord ever use me?
I was the seventeen year old girl who wanted to be the the life of the party, simply there to make everyone laugh. Why would the Lord take me seriously?
I was the eighteen year old girl wanting to go with the flow, by making the same choices as others. Why was the Lord asking me to be different?
I was the nineteen year old girl who had never felt so weak. Why was the Lord asking me to doing something that required so much strength?
The music blared from the room next door, the doors slammed as students came and went, bottles piled up in the shared bathroom and the world was loud and screaming for my attention.
Yet, in room 33 on the third floor, I heard a still small voice asking me to leave it all and step into full time work for the Lord.
The stories in scripture revealed to me the simple truth that God uses the weak people of the world. 1 Corinthians 1:27 tell us to us plain and simply.
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
The stories of Moses and Gideon were especially challenging to me, for I could finally see myself in the lives of these heroes of the faith. They didn’t think they could do it. They asked the Lord to send someone else, they asked for signs and they said they were the least of all the people. I could relate to all of that. Yet God continued to call them out and ask them to be obedient to His plans and purposes not for their comfort, but for His glory.
It began to click with me, that this was not about who I was with all my weaknesses and inabilities, but this was all about the One who was asking me to go.
If I looked to myself and what I had to offer, I would never had packed up that room on the third floor and I would have started into my second year of a course I wasn’t even interested in, but it felt safe and doable.
However, looking to the Lord Jesus Christ, who sacrificed Himself for me changed everything. Even though I had no idea where He would lead me, I knew He was safe. I believed Him to be only good and so I followed Him by taking the next step in front of me. I went home to tell my family, church and friends that God was calling me to be a missionary.
The last week of August, 1997, I sat in a new room on a second floor. It was cozy and warm, shared with a sweet roommate from the States and Bible verses hung on the wall. I began my time at New Tribes Bible School in England.
That is twenty five years ago this week. We heard the news of Princess Diana’s death on my first Sunday at church there. It was a startling reminder as I started a new chapter that life is so brief, eternity is before us all.
I think back to that time in my life so often and each time I simply thank the Lord for His grace in calling someone like me, and giving me this wonderful life of following Him.
I was so afraid of what following the Lord would require of me.
I was afraid what others would think of me.
I was afraid that I wouldn’t be happy.
I was afraid it would be too much and I would fail.
I was simply afraid.
I knew myself very well, too well. But the wonderful thing about stepping out in dependence upon the Lord, spending time in His Word and walking each day with Him, is that I began to know the Lord better. He began to increase and I began to decrease. I responded more to who He was and less to who I was.
Surrender is often thought of as a hard word, a word full of angst and difficulty. And it is true, during that time in my life, it was so hard to let go and surrender to the will of God.
If there is one message I could give from my twenty five years of walking this road with the Lord, it would be this; it has been a sweet road of surrender.
We do not surrender our life to a hard task master. We are surrendering to the will of a good, good Father who has the very best desire for our lives. The decisions may seem hard in the beginning, but the more we trust Him and the more we experience Him as we step out in faith and obedience, the more we long for more of Him and less of me. As our faith in Him grows, our fears of what He is asking of us fade in comparison.
If I look to myself, I still feel overwhelmed with the things the Lord is asking of me. I still feel that I have so little to offer and yet I see in scripture that the Lord simply asks us to come and bring what we have to Him. He is the Lord of taking so little and when we bring it to Him as a simple offering of faith, He uses it for His eternal purposes.
The Lord has given me a beautiful life.
Yes, there have been hardships and trials, but I know it has all been under His sovereign love and grace. He has been with me each step of the way. I love that the Lord in His kindness, put one of the most precious promises at the end of one of the most overwhelming commands.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
He is with me always.
Jesus is with you always.
I don’t know what decision the Lord may be asking of you today, but you know what is tugging at your heart. The surrender feels hard, the decision feels too difficult, the voices of others and their opinions seems so loud.
Look to the Saviour.
Make your decisions in this life through the filter of the cross and all eternity. It seems so big and scary to us now to make these hard decisions and yet when stand before our Saviour and King and we lay all we have done for Him at His feet, it will feel so small. As the old hymn says, “I’ll wish I had given Him more.”
Don’t make decisions dear friend in light of your feelings or your fears. Make decisions in light of the Word of God and by faith step out into a full life of living for Jesus.
He doesn’t call all of us across the world, but He does call us out into the world to be a testimony and a light for Him.
Maybe you have a decision that needs to be made from a hard place in your life right now. You are in your own room 33. May I simply encourage you as someone who gave the Lord everything, in a time when I thought I had nothing to offer; He is worth it.
Jesus is always worth it.
My life has been all the sweeter for walking the road of surrender with Jesus.
“Not my will, but Thy will be done.”
May it be so, Lord Jesus.
With much love,