I remember the first time I ever considered being a missionary. I was talking with a friend, and somehow we got on the topic of missions. And I remember telling him, “I don’t think I’m called to be a missionary.”
My friend, responded, “How do you know? Did you ask him?”
That night (or the next, I can’t remember), I was talking with God and recalled my conversation with my friend.
“Tony was saying I should ask you about being a missionary.”
At that point, a thought popped into my mind. I know it wasn’t from me because there is no way I would have ever thought it. God told me, “Yeah, ask me.”
I immediately replied, “I don’t want to ask you. What if you say yes?”
I then got into this long argument with God, the kind where he lets you talk and he just kind of sits there in silence and lets you talk yourself out.”
When I finally saw how fruitless it was to argue, I said, “Okay, Lord. Do you want me to go?”
I didn’t get an answer that night, but it was the starting point of my journey to Japan.
Two or three years later, I was seeking God’s direction for my life, and another friend encouraged me to make sure I had given everything up to God. That I had not taken anything back from him.
As I was driving home that night, God spoke again. “Bruce, you’ve taken Japan back from me.”
It was something I had not realized. I had gone to Japan on a short term mission, but when it was over, I didn’t think it was for me. And though it was not a conscious choice, I had taken it back from God. And so once again, I surrendered my will to his, and now I have been in Japan for about 20 years.
Why do I mention all this?
It seems all so similar to what happened in this passage. Christians seeking God, and God saying, “Go. I’m setting you apart for my purposes. Go.”
It’s in this passage, by the way, that you see the clear personality of the Holy Spirit. For it is the Holy Spirit himself who tells them, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (2)
And after more prayer and fasting, they went.
I’m still wondering about all the reasons God sent me here. I don’t think I’ve nearly accomplished all that God brought me here for. And so as I write this, I’m thinking I need to be seeking God on this once again. Why am I here?
But God has not just called me, or pastors, or missionaries. He has called you as well. He has set you apart for his purposes. Do you know what those purposes are? And are you doing the things he is asking you to do? If not, won’t you pray with me now?
Father, in your love, you have saved me. But you didn’t save me to serve and live for myself. You saved me to serve and live for you. Holy Spirit, help me to do so. Speak to my heart. Show me where I need to go and what I need to do. Forgive me for wasting time. Let me do so no longer. Speak to me. Fill me. Lead me. Guide me. For your purposes. For your glory. For your kingdom. For your name, O Lord, here I am. In Jesus name, amen.