Just before I married my husband, I joked with him that he would never have to live up to the memory of a former boyfriend of mine; rather, he would live in the shadow of a continent I loved. Africa.
My Calling to Africa
My love for Africa resulted from an extended stay in West Africa, living on the edge of the Sahara Desert with a missionary family I knew. From the moment I arrived, I knew that I must return one day as a nurse.
While there, the extent of impoverished people, in need of physical and spiritual help, overwhelmed me. It was seeing the sick and hurting children, though, that really broke my heart.
When with sadness my time in Africa ended, I knew that I had found my calling. I had it all figured out. I was a young, single, and willing nurse. All I needed to do was to find the path God wanted me to take in returning.
God’s Seeming Rejection of My Calling
Unfortunately, during a full year of praying and searching for the right opportunity, God remained silent as He closed every door. He very clearly said no. Crushed and confused, I spent the next several years convinced that for some reason I was not good enough to serve as a missionary. The enemy tried to convince me that God had rejected me.
Over time, however, I came to realize that this was not so. I had wanted to work in Africa, but it was not God’s calling. He taught me that not everyone must go; some instead serve in other ways. Quite simply, what I thought was a calling was really only something I wanted to do, and not God’s plan for my life.
When God closes a door, He opens another.
That is exactly what He did. An opportunity opened for me to move to Colorado. In need of a change, I jumped at the offer. It was there that I began dating the man who is now my husband.
Learning God’s Ways Are Best
While in Africa, I thought I was strong enough to conquer the world. I know now that my health would never have survived living overseas in remote conditions. God knew what was ultimately best for me. I thought I needed Africa, but He knew that I needed the support of a strong and loving husband.
I have long since made peace over my painful Africa ordeal. Deep down, I still long to go and have tried on many occasions to take other short-term mission trips; each time God says no. I suppose it is because it would still hurt to leave, but it is also unlikely that I would endure the physical demands of such a trip.
Have any of you ever felt as though God rejected you? Or that because of past failures, you are not good enough to serve Him?
I urge you to let it all go at the foot of the cross. God has a unique purpose for each of us and He alone knows what that entails. Begin living for the Lord right where you are. He will direct your steps in a way that is pleasing to Him.
In my next posting of A Painful Saga, I will share about my physical pain journey. Of how God is bringing back my health.