The secret to finding God's will for your life

I once held preconceived ideas about the character of missionaries.  Being raised in church all my life, one would think I had met several, but I had not.  I think in some ways they are thought of as being on a higher spiritual plain, possessing the most beautiful of Godly principles.  Surely they are selfless and sacrificial, driven and adventurous, bold and fearless, visionaries and leaders.

But then I became one.

I know who I am, and who I am not.  People can look at the outside and assume they know the heart, but they cannot.  Maybe I managed to make some tough decisions on the way to serving as a missionary, but every single one carried its own dark fear.  I have never been bold, and certainly not thought of as a leader.  I am admittedly selfish too.  But somehow none of these things disqualified me.

In the four years since I first set foot in Nicaragua, I have learned a great deal about the character of God and His perfect will for my life.  I used to believe that His plan had everything to do with what He wanted me to accomplish for Him.  In many ways I believed that His plans were dependent on my obedience.  But if there is one solitary thing I have learned in the preparation, the serving, and the transition back to the United States it is this; God doesn't need me to do anything for Him.

I find a verse nestled in the book of Acts.  "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands, as if he needed anything.  Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else." (17:24-25)

We don't have a needy God.  We have a powerful, omniscient, omnipotent, holy God.  He does not need us.  But He wants us.  He thinks so highly of us that He invites us to be a part of what He has already planned to do.  He searches for us, pursues our hearts and gently, lovingly, patiently asks us if we are willing to let go of our lives to become wholly, unquestionably surrendered to Him.  He doesn't need us to change the world.  But He will orchestrate change in this world through our obedience to Him.  

The apostle Paul knew the truth.  He pleaded with his brothers and sisters in the church to open their eyes to the secret of Christ.  "Don't copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2)

I am not the same person I was four years ago.  And I can tell you that God did not use the big move to another country to change me.  It wasn't the abject poverty, nor the humanitarian work that He used.  Instead, God used the process.  He used the circumstances that surrounded all of the decisions that came before, during, and after my time in Nicaragua to transform me.

- Ginger, will you sell your house and your belongings to follow me?
- Ginger, will you give up your job in the church and at the hospital to follow me?
- Ginger, will you trust that my plans for you and your family are good when your kids are mourning
  their losses?
- Ginger, will you trust me when your funding doesn't meet your budget?
- Ginger, how will you treat your husband when you're tired and stressed?
- Ginger, what will you think of me when you give me the only life you have ever known for
  Nicaragua, and I return you to a broken version of it after one short year?

In the beginning of this missionary journey, I thought that working in Nicaragua was God's plan for my life.  I thought that was His end game.  I wanted to rush through all of the waiting and hard work and tough decisions to get to the real prize of God's will for my life.  What I know now?  The process is God's end game.

Life is not about what we do for God.  His will is not found in the titles we earn or the positions we hold.  Life is about letting go of our control and letting God do His work in us.  He is not a God who needs; He is a God who gives.  His good and perfect will is the same for everyone; we surrender, He transforms.


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