On January 9, 1992 I was preparing for my last semester at Hardin-Simmons. Knowing I wasn't ready to go straight to seminary, I'd taken the advice of a friend to share some time with her pastor, Bob Roberts, Jr. He concluded our one hour of conversation over Chinese food with this statement, "So you want life experience and you want ministry experience, but you don't want to go straight to seminary. You need to be a journeyman."
"Me? A missionary?," I was thinking as I said something like, "Thanks, Bob, I never thought of that." God had other plans.
In the months that followed, I read Scripture like never before. I read the biographies of missionaries. I listened to—almost memorized—the music of Keith Green. I spoke with friends and advisors. I applied with the, then, Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention to be a Journeyman Missionary.
There was one problem. I was dating a young lady I highly respected. She had character quality that I might imagine marrying. What about her? We'd been out to supper and discussed all I was learning and seeking. Driving down Ambler Avenue in Abilene, Texas, I'll never forget her confronting me with my need for faith. She stated—and you've read it here previously—that "fear is the opposite of faith." Did she even know what she was saying? As a result, we broke up days later. Could she imagine that her challenge would tip the scale of my faith struggle and change my life forever?
On a Sunday night. In my Nix Hall dorm room. Alone in the dark. I fell on my face before God. "Wherever you want me to go, God. I am yours." I cried. And prayed. And sang. And praised. What freedom! What release! Surrender is sweet.
It was Sunday night, April 5th, 1992. Twenty-three years ago tonight. A seminal moment.
That surrender, wherever God, changed the trajectory of my life forever.
As a result of that surrender, I spent two years in South Africa as a Journeyman Missionary. You can not serve there, among those amazing people who have suffered through so much, and not be changed. As a result of that surrender, I took a nontraditional route through seminary. I squeezed my 3 years into 7 and served incredible churches with treasured brothers and sisters along the way. As a result of that surrender, I went to a missions conference in New Mexico and met a Louisiana girl who was serving as a missionary nurse in Georgia. She's been my incredible wife for near 18 years now. As a result of that surrender, we were not looking for a place but a people to serve in 2005. We've been in Nebraska going on 10 years and can not imagine life elsewhere. Our church family is wonderful. Our family is flourishing. We are SO blessed. Life is good.
God is good.
How do you need to surrender? I wonder how your life might change for the better when you do?
Surrender makes all the difference.
Twenty-three years. And counting.
Thank you for joining me along the way.