Not so long ago I had a desire to be part of America’s most elite fighting forces. Whether it be as an army Ranger, a navy seal, or a paratrooper it did not matter I had a desire to serve. I prayed continuously for God to speak to me concerning the desire and to lend His guidance and His wisdom, after all if anyone can see the “Big” picture it is the creator of the universe. His perspective remains to be my favorite one even if it doesn’t always agree with my initial desires.
My first roadblock to fulfilling this desire was my mother who had just witnessed my recovery to an ACL reconstruction and a long bout with mononucleosis which was misdiagnosed as everything from HIV to Lymphoma. Upon telling her of my dream of medical school and possibly taking steps through the military to get there, she told me that she could not bear the weight of such a decision at that time. I personally believe that this discussion and my desire to honor my parents led me to where I am today and eventually where God would speak to me regarding this dream.
Two years later and after an emotional breakup with a long term girlfriend whom I had thought may one day be my wife (i.e. not my beloved Mrs. Emma Shetterley). I sought God with everything within me, asking God for straightforward communication and revelation of who He was and who I was in Him. I grew up in a Christian home and would read the bible on and off even passionately and had my share of “Christian” music, but I did not know how to hear the voice of God.
John 27-28 says: “27 my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
This seeking eventually lead to me hearing and developing a true friendship with God. That friendship through miraculous circumstances eventually lead me to working as a missionary intern in a remote village in Costa Rica. This is where God picked up on that “dream”. Shortly before my second stay in Costa Rica I again asked God if he would speak to me concerning my thoughts about the military. So as God often does, He sent people to speak with. A Lt. Colonel (also doctor), a retired army ranger (now pastor), and a sergeant and his wife who were also on the missions trip, as well as leaders of a school who serve the community of Ft. Bragg and their children. I was able to hear the true cost of the “dream” and meet men who were living it… covert ops and all. The desire to serve in such a capacity neither disappeared nor increased but another began to fill its place.
Serving the community of Talamanca in Costa Rica changed my life seeing God use “little ol’ me” with almost zero training, lots of faith, and all the energy I could give, I saw God transform lives, families restored, people healed from deadly snake bites, and constant miraculous provision. I returned home hopeful and discussed how the desire to serve was still there but how I knew that God could use me in any capacity if I would only humble myself and listen. (I have many stories and testimonies of how God moved in my life excluded for brevity, but willing to share to those who ask.)
Our children will have dreams, we will have goals, corporations, schools and churches will have desires for their communities and business outlook; but the way we carry ourselves there and with those around us must look like “something”. Paul in writing to the Colossians urged his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12). Jesus puts it even more simply in Matthew 22: 37-40 answering the disciples: “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’38 this is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””
As parents, teachers, friends, etc. we often give complicated advice to those who ask of our opinion. True wisdom often boils down to the simplicity of Faith, Hope, and Love. Where and how can we most represent the character of Christ and cloth ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience? Laying down the “dream” to pick up the attributes God ask of us and offers to us. When we choose to allow God to use us as a vessel marked by His love, it will always result in a greater impact and resulting joy than pursuing the “dream” alone, resulting in the purist desires of the “dream” to be fulfilled.
If you find yourself in a similar place seeking God’s voice and His direction on any decision, first know that His voice is patient. His love is overwhelming. He knows you better than anyone, and His desire for you is for good. Just quiet your mind, and your thoughts (BE STILL), and ask him to show you where He is moving. Above all seek to love! “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”- 1 John 4:16
Flip 180 Pastor