Surprisingly, my parents considered saying yes. But our preacher told them Africa was no place for a young woman.
I prayed. Oh, I prayed. Day and night, on my knees, in fervent prayer, asking God that my parents (and our minister who I had thought of as my friend up to this point) would see it my way. God tuned me out and I spent a bitter summer at home wiping drippy noses and doing the motions to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, my heart anything but praiseful.
The years passed and my heart yearned for the slingshot and the sword. Instead I was given a nursing career, a family, and a small town church. I never understood God’s reason for refusing to allow me to go to Africa—until forty years later.
For forty years I imagined I had taken the easy road, while my heart longed to take the high one. I had no role in God’s plan. Then, one Sunday during a chance comment by my minister, God removed the blinders. I was not created to be a dragon-slayer, but a pooh-scooper. Yes, I am a pooh scooper.
Think of Jesus triumphal entry to Jerusalem, riding on a colt. Someone had to prepare that colt and have it waiting. Someone had to keep that colt fed, clean, and ready. Did that person know the role he was about to play in the salvation of the world as he scooped pooh from the colt’s pen? And yet, where would the majesty of the triumphal entry be without the colt, or the answer to prophesy?
I have done many seemingly trivial and meaningless tasks since the summer I did not go to Africa. How many times did I groan over having to teach one more youth lesson? Two of the teens are now in full-time Christian service. What about the nights I spent at church camp calming homesick campers, convincing them to stay one more day? Or the hands of the dying I held as they passed from earth to glory? I fed the friendless, smiled at the grumpy and made phone calls for the desperate. None of these were earth-shaking. None took much more than a shovel and an attitude.
God asked me to put aside my pride, to lay at His feet my vanity, and to accept His humility. This is a hard task for a defiant woman who is planning to save the world. It was the hardest assignments I could be given.
Trust the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. Pick up your cross and follow me. Familiar words, but the challenge can only be met through the strength of our Lord. Be defiant, my friends. Refuse to allow the world to tell you your worth is only measured in greatness, when true worth is found in obedience to the Savior. That task you are called to do will change lives.