My Calling is to Abide

image
image

“Abide in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5 For years now I have been convinced that my call in life is to be a missionary. My love for different languages and countries stems back to my childhood, and as I look at my life, my passions, and my desires, I believe God created me for such a purpose. It all seems to fit perfectly together. It even sounds right: missionary Mary. My future was set as far as I was concerned- I was going to be a missionary. Yet these past few weeks as my school traveled throughout Mexico to spread the good news of the gospel, I was blindsided by the truth of my calling, and it wasn’t the truth I was expecting.

You see, in my head I imagined my trip to Mexico going much differently than it had. It wasn’t because of the people or even what we did while we were there, but because of the situation of my heart. I presumed that I would come alive on the mission field as I had the previous year in the Dominican Republic. (Oh, how my heart had soared on that trip)! This was, after all, what I wanted to do with my life. Surely I would excel, right?

Wrong. Well, sort of.

When my team woke up our first day in Mexico, I felt as if I had been hit in the face with lethargy, indifference, and selfishness. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to get up. I didn’t want to pray for people. I didn’t want to serve, to love, to minister. It was day one and I felt like I had nothing to give. What was happening in my heart? I was entirely apathetic, and it destroyed me inside. Isn’t this where I want to be in life? Why don’t I care now that I’m here? How can I be a missionary if I feel this way?

My doubts turned into a fierce determination to prove that I had what it takes. I didn’t understand why I was apathetic, but I didn’t care. I was going to prove that I could be a missionary. I wasn’t going to let a bad day stop me from doing what I was born to do. I was made for this, remember?

Ironically (or not so ironically), I didn’t have just one bad day. Day two, day three, day four came and went, and I was nothing but lethargic. Very little of me cared, and after four days of striving to prove I had what it takes to be a missionary, I was exhausted. I now felt like I truly had nothing to give. I was at the end of myself, and I had no idea how I was going to survive the rest of the trip- we weren’t even halfway through. I didn’t know what to do; I felt like all that was within me was dry and shriveled. I had nothing to give.

I cried out to God all I knew to say. “Lord, I need you!” He smirked at me and replied, “Yes. Yes, you do.”

I felt defeated. I felt so incapable. “I can’t be a missionary, God. I don’t have it in me. I can’t do this.”

“No,” He said, “you can’t.”

Wait, what? That was not the response I expected at all. Wasn’t He supposed to encourage me and tell me I could do this?

“You can’t do this,” He said again. “You don’t have it in you to live a lifestyle of love and serving and ministering to others. That is precisely the point. You can’t do this without Me. You need Me. Whether I’ve called you and crafted you to be a missionary or not, you need Me. You can’t do this in your own strength.”

I understood this simple truth, that I need Jesus, on a much deeper level that morning. Those first four days I saw who I was without Him: selfish, uncompassionate, loveless, lethargic, exhausted, and incapable. It was not a pretty picture. Yet I saw who I am and all I was able to do in my own strength, and I assure you it was not much. Though I was going through the motions, my heart was empty. My motives were selfish. There was nothing lovely about it.

I was incredibly humbled that day. I realized, in a fresh way, how it is not in my strength at all. It will not be my strength that will make me a missionary (or an effective one). No, it is always, only, entirely the Lord.

“This is the word of the Lord to [Mary]: Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6

This truth seems so basic, and many of us will openly say it with ease, yet how little we understand this. We are in desperate need of the Lord, and sometimes He must bring us to the end of ourselves so we may recognize this. Do we truly believe that apart from Him we can do nothing? Until we do, I am confident that whatever we achieve will be very little, and it will surely perish. We must come to a point where we believe that goodness does not originate within ourselves but with the Lord. If we still think we are good without Him, we will never be convinced we wholly need Him.

The minute we believe we have our own strength, we won’t depend on the One who is strong.

It is amazing, really, how Jesus knows exactly what needs to be done. He knows the independence and pride that still lives in my heart, and He took me on a journey of humility in order to combat it. In His gentleness and loving-kindness, God is taking me from the end of myself to where I am at the beginning of Him; Him and me. Not me, but Him with me- Him through me.

As I meditate on this truth and think of all the times loved ones have told me I have “become more patient” or have “become less angry" since I've attended discipleship school, I wonder if I actually have at all. I wonder not because I don’t believe it’s true, but because I ponder what I could have possibly done to become such. I don’t think I have done anything. I have simply stepped aside. The truth is that the Spirit living inside of me is patient; He is not angry. He loves with abandon, and He is strong. Once again, it is not me. I thank God for this, because I know in myself I can’t be those things.

I once heard it said the beginning of finding purpose in life is realizing it’s not about you. I never understood this like I do today. Thank God it is not about us in our own strength- He knows that would not get us very far.

“John answered and said, A man cannot receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven … He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:27,30.

Oh, by the way, I am still confident that I am called to be a missionary, though not because I’m all that great. It is only because the One who lives in me is great. His goodness is much more assuring than my own, anyway.

My name is Mary, and I'm a twenty-four-year-old vagabond. I have a heart for the places I've never been and the people I've never met.

I consider myself a missionary, though I don't have a badge to prove it to be so. My dream is to continue traveling the world to share with people the joy and freedom of the Good News.

I love God with my everything, and He is my favorite travel companion. We have been on many adventures together, and I know there are many more to come.

My passion is to write about this love, to speak about this love, and to dance because of this love that makes me come alive.

Written By: Mary Bocks

image
image

My name is Mary, and I'm a twenty-four-year-old vagabond. I have a heart for the places I've never been and the people I've never met.

I consider myself a missionary, though I don't have a badge to prove it to be so. My dream is to continue traveling the world to share with people the joy and freedom of the Good News.

I love God with my everything, and He is my favorite travel companion. We have been on many adventures together, and I know there are many more to come.

My passion is to write about this love, to speak about this love, and to dance because of this love that makes me come alive.

You can find me on the web at http://becausegodsaidso.blogspot.com