Happy New Year to you and your loved ones! A new year is an excellent time to review the past and plan for the future. As we age, the past gets much larger, and the future? Well, let’s just say that we are running out of that sooner than we would prefer… unless we are confident that our destiny is totally in the hands of our God who loves us even more than we love ourselves.
I will celebrate my 81st birthday this month. If I had known that I was going to live this long, I might have taken better care of myself and, most certainly, the ones whom I love. But life has a way of catching up with our ignorance and disobedience.
Everyone, including the most righteous, has regrets mixed with the joy of restoration of broken relationships, and the renewed hopes for their future, which they almost lost in the confusion of life’s circumstances. If that describes your situation you are not alone.
May I share part of my story, a quest to find God’s will in my life, and by extension, my wife’s, as we sorted out who we were in Christ and what we were created to be and to do in his name?
Here is a passage from our book, “Out of it in Africa: Dispatches from Clueless Missionaries.” I sincerely hope that it will encourage you if you have ever wondered why God created you in the first place. As it was written:
“We most certainly were not missionaries, nor had we ever in our lives desired to be. We never longed for a mission in some remote and primitive outpost where we would gladly suffer personal discomfort, danger, and loneliness for Jesus. We never spent a lot of time on our knees praying for some specific people group God had put on our hearts.
Nope, we were the normal, run-of-the-mill sort of Christians, not really all that special. Missionaries, on the other hand, are virtual saints. They are usually somewhat odd folks, wearing outdated clothes, and sometimes even smelling a little different.
We didn’t mind praying for them regularly and sending contributions when we were able, but we were always thankful that it was they who were going instead of us. We preferred to be a lot more regular than that. We were simply not the kind of people that God would send into the mission field. Well, I just can’t say enough about how good it is to be wrong!
We had been living our lives unwittingly trapped by the limited possibilities that we had imposed on ourselves. Our lives had been shaped by a false assumption about who we were and what God wanted to do with us. We were clueless, yet certain about so many things.
Mistaken certainties will do one of two things. Unexamined, they will lock you in a dark room with no windows and no mirrors, leaving your perspective stuck somewhere between your ears. However, when put under the light, they will fall away like an icicle in warm sunshine, revealing opportunities you could never dream up yourself.
We were two ordinary suburban, middle-class people simply going about life, minding our own business. So how the heck did we wind up in East Africa? Sometimes we still scratch our heads … it was totally unlikely and foreign, so not on our radar.
Behind every story is a whole other story. Only in retrospect can we see how stuff that happens today has any significant meaning. The fact is, to one degree or another all of us are clueless concerning God’s ultimate purpose for our lives. We vaguely understand that he is sovereign. We surmise that because he is God, he always gets his way. People can accept and embrace that fact, or they can spend the rest of their lives arguing with the Lord to no avail.
It is always in our own best interest to seek God’s will for our lives rather than groping for meaning on our own. The good news is that he has a wonderful destiny for everyone who has responded to the salvation that is provided through the blood of Jesus.
In Ephesians 2:10 the Apostle Paul explains: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do.” In other words, each of us is saved by grace for a special purpose or task that comes directly from the mind and heart of God, which is somehow reserved for us, in very personal ways.
Without getting overly theological, I would like to challenge your imagination concerning your specific sense of God’s calling in your life. You may be settling for peace, order, and security, living life as it comes with no particular destination in mind.
That certainly describes the life that my wife, Judy, and I had gradually settled into as we approached midlife. We were moving along from one small crisis to the next, not connecting the dots of relevant meaning. We had devolved and regressed away from the initial excitement that had immediately followed our salvation experience and we were drifting along in the current of ordinary living.
Then, it happened. God invaded our secure little world to present us with a destiny we could have never dreamed would be ours. He had a fresh script for our life story; one that put everything in a whole new perspective. It was like the revelation that moved the prodigal son to return to his father’s farm. We simply came to ourselves about who we really were and what we were created to do.
That revelation began a story of discovery and adventure that is almost too good to be true. Hopefully, our story will encourage you to think about your story and your possible destiny.”
Our ministry continues to be one of encouragement and challenge to the next generation, worldwide. What is God telling YOU to do? What are the things you may value that stand in the way of that?
Complacency and despair are twin enemies to your hopes and dreams in Christ Jesus. May you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, overcome every obstacle that stands in the way of your destiny in Christ. His reward awaits you.
God bless you and yours in this new year. Amen.
[LeRoy Curtis is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Asbury Theological Seminary. He served four years as a U.S. Naval Officer after which he became a pastor, Bible professor, educator, author, and missionary living in E. Africa for eight years where he and his wife developed a curriculum of biblical studies for untrained pastors in rural Kenya. His passion for training young church leaders takes him to various parts of the U.S., Latin America, and Africa. He and Judy are currently residing in Carrollton, Georgia.]