I hadn't wanted to go to the meeting. Not really. Not at all. And so I decided a dozen times to stay home, only to find myself wrestling all day with the Spirit's voice within me. Go. Go.
Three hours before I had to leave, I finally sat down to prepare for my part in the program. Nothing had pricked my heart in the monthly literature. Then, I remembered my mother had shoved a small book in my hand earlier that morning. Her eyes alight, she told me it was life changing, worth my time to read.
With children watching their afternoon Veggie Tales above my head, I leaned back and read the first three chapters. Interesting. Not really life-changing, but I felt the heart-stir anyway.
The book spoke of how we don't pray the big prayers because we're so comfortable in asking for what doesn't require faith, for what we already know He can do...for what we know is possible. We shy away from the prayers that would involve moving mountains--the impossible.
The group was smaller than normal. I knew all the ladies there, loved them all. But still, I wanted to be not there. I am ashamed of my attitude, but if I'm honest with myself, I know I went with no expectations of hearing God's voice speaking to me. My ears weren't even listening for Him. My body was just filling a seat, fulfilling what I considered to be a duty.
And there He was anyway, His message meant specifically for me in an off-hand comment about a group of 40+ persecuted Burmese Christians who had fled their homeland, who were living in Baton Rouge, and whose #1 need was learning how to speak English.
It was as if a firecracker had gone off in that little room. I instantly remembered back to my college days, when I strongly felt God telling me in my spirit that He would have me teach ESL classes, I believed, to China. A couple I loved dearly even became missionaries in that area.
One summer, a group from my childhood church flew to meet them and help teach such classes. Already committed to teaching summer school at my college, I was so frustrated that I couldn't go, too....even more frustrated when the couple moved back to the U.S. a few years later, eliminating what I thought was my way of achieving that ministry.
Then, my children were born, and that calling seemed to dim further in my memory, only every now and then growing bright as I wondered if I had really heard God's voice at all.
Later that night after I made it home, I looked up Burma and gasped when Google pulled up a map showing the little country touched China. It was as if God was saying since I couldn't go, He was bringing that part of the world to me.
I was excited, yet terrified. I have no experience teaching ESL. As I looked further into the country, I realized the Burmese alphabet didn't even look like English.
And then I remembered those chapters I'd read earlier in the day. In Be a Circle Maker: The Solution to 10,000 Problems, Mark Batterson writes, "If you've never had a God-sized dream that scared you half to death, then you haven't really come to life. If you've never been overwhelmed by the impossibility of your plans, then your God is too small. If your vision isn't perplexingly impossible, then you need to expand the radiuses of your prayer circles" (45-46).
He continues, "A big dream is simultaneously the best feeling and worst feeling in the world. It's exhilarating because it's beyond your ability; it's frightening for the same exact reason...In my experience, you'll never feel qualified. But God doesn't call the qualified; God qualifies the called" (46-7).
Awesome. Exhilirated and frightened--that was me. That is me.
Before I could let the fear overwhelm, I took the leap, contacted those involved, offered to teach, and contacted others who could help with materials. Everything was moving so rapidly, too quickly for this clueless servant. A date was set for the first meeting, transportation and a building secured. Full steam ahead.
And then, we came to a brick wall built right across the road. Another group had the training and experience I lacked. They were taking charge of the project. Yes, my church and I could still help teach, but we would wait on their lead.
Initially, I was relieved, hoping to learn from these teachers, my heart thinking maybe we could duplicate this ministry with the Hispanic community around our area. But two weeks later, we're still waiting on the word.
I have felt deflated, discouraged. Really, God?!? Did I not hear you right then and now? All last week, I kept shaking my head. This just couldn't be right. I knew I heard God...right?
But with each passing day, I doubted.
Friday found me in the stores, scouring the deep winter clearance sales I love. Knowing the Christmas cards were 90% off, I drove to LifeWay Christian Bookstore. And there, amongst the leftover candy canes and tree ornaments sat one lone book, stuck way out on the edge.
Bright cobalt blue amongst the Christmas red, gold, and green. I couldn't miss it if I had tried.
It was the same exact book I'd been told to use, had been planning to use when I helped teach the ESL classes. I held it close and almost broke down in tears on my knees right there in the middle of the store.
My Father knew my doubting heart, and so He chose to speak again.
I'm still not sure if I will be ministering to the Burmese group now or in the future. There's a lot that is uncertain. But what's not uncertain is that God does desire my willingness to serve in this ministry--somewhere, somehow, with someone.
I just need to be open to go whenever He wills it.