Perhaps nothing frightened me more as a teenager than the thought of completely trusting God with my future- especially trusting him with my career path.
When I was young, I realized my sinfulness and my need for salvation and I received Jesus Christ as my Savior. I trusted God to save me. But just a few years later, I struggled to trust God to lead me.
Truth be told, I wondered deep inside if I could trust God with this important part of my future. I was worried that perhaps he would lead me in a path that would make me miserable. Isn’t if funny that I thought that way?
What I feared in particular was that if I agreed to do whatever God wanted me to do, God was going to make me become a missionary to Africa. I had never been to Africa, but it just epitomized for me the scary and miserable life that God had in store should I be willing to obey him wherever he led.
God loves you and wants what is best for you. He doesn’t ask you to trust him with your future so he can make your life miserable. He asks you to trust him with your future so he can make your life meaningful.
When I finally surrendered my future- including my career- to the Lord, he did something more surprising than calling me to be a missionary to Africa. He led me into vocational ministry and, eventually, to become a pastor. That is a surprising step for a young man who was deathly afraid of public speaking. But God knew what he was doing and I have found a meaningful and fulfilling life in obeying his lead.
Had God called me to Africa, he would have equipped and prepared me for that. I would have found meaning and purpose in obeying him there. In fact, I’ve been on several mission trips to Africa which I consider among the most meaningful ministry moments of my life. My son-in-law and daughter served for three years with the International Mission Board in Africa before illness brought them back to the States. Our church partners with Uganda on mission trips every year where we work with James and Sonya Herron of the IMB who went there from our church in O’Fallon, IL. And, two of my granddaughters were born in Africa. I love Africa now!
I urge you to trust God with your future. Whatever fears you have about doing this can be consumed by the recognition that God loves you and wants the best for your future. The future God wants for you might not be easy, but the bible tells us his will is “good, pleasing and perfect”. (Romans 12:2) Yes, his will is good and it is pleasing and it is perfect. It is exactly what God created and saved you to do.
If you can trust God with eternal life, you can trust him with your earthly future. Give him your future and he will give you a meaningful life and lead you on the great adventure he has for you. Even if that means he calls you to Africa!
Doug, I feel like you were writing this to me and Joe. Our youngest, Brianne, is leaving in June for an 11 month mission trip to 11 countries. She will be giving up her comfortable home, a job she loves, and family she adores. But God continually reassures me that He has this!
That “teen-age trepidation” returns in your middle ages when following God’s direction takes you to uncertain places (like a pause in “ministry” to do another kind of “ministry” in a totally different setting that you do not know).