DEAR YOUNGER ME, WHAT JOY it brings to look back over the years of my life and to see how our Heavenly Father has guided my steps – from the early years until now! I recall how, at 4 years old, I told a missionary at the end of his presentation that I was going to be a missionary when I grew up! He was so pleased that he took me to his wife so that I could say it to her, as well.
I wouldn’t say that God “called” me at that time, but I’m sure He planted a seed in my heart which He continued to nurture until it bloomed, creating a longing and passion in me to share the wonderful news of His grace to those who desperately needed to hear it. Younger Me, do you remember that night in the missionary convention in Salem, Ohio? You were only 15 and had already decided that you wanted to be a nurse. In the service that night, Dr. Dale Yocum sang the song, “Ought I To Know?” – a song that is written as if it were someone who knew nothing of Jesus asking that question, “Ought I to know?” The chorus finished with the words, “Long have you known this Saviour from above, while I still wait to hear about His love!” Do you remember the passion awakening in your heart, crying out to God, “Oh, Father, PLEASE let me go!” Even now, as I think of those words, something deep within me responds, “Oh, Father, I want to tell them!”
Remember the days of spiritual struggle – not a struggle of rebellion, or any desire to go another way, but a struggle of uncertainty about your experience of salvation? Remember the doubts that would flood your soul, and then the accusing voice of Satan who would tell you that you “couldn’t be right with God” because of those doubts? Oh, how I wish you could have known then what I have learned about our Father’s unconditional love over the years! I would tell you that our Father delighted in you – yes, you! He delighted in you because you chose to follow Him, even when others in the Christian school you attended chose to go their own way.
He delighted in your desire to please Him, even though you were far from perfect.
I would tell you that you were fully accepted by Him when you put your trust in Him, and that seeking to know Him was all that mattered – not how you compared to others. I would remind you that salvation is a continued walk with your Saviour, not an “experience” to worry about.
And then, the college years…. Wasn’t it precious how our Father guided you to Hobe Sound for the missionary nursing program? There was never a doubt in your mind that He had called, and you passionately responded “Yes!” to that call. You didn’t let anything deter you from that goal, though you didn’t know where He would lead you. It wasn’t until your senior year, when you had to do a missionary internship “somewhere,” that you chose to go to Haiti – mostly because you didn’t have the finances to go anywhere further away, and the door had opened for you to go to Haiti!
Remember how you fell in love with the people of Haiti? You loved walking the dirt trails, visiting in the homes, watching them wash clothes at the river, riding mules over mountain trails, learning to communicate? You left part of your heart there after those first 5 weeks. And, within 2 weeks of returning to school, God made it clear that He was opening the door for you to return as a full-time missionary nurse!
Do you remember that day when the big bus/truck you were riding in almost turned over in the flooding river? You and all the other passengers jumped out into the waist-deep water and continued on foot. When you arrived at your little home about 2 hours later after crossing the river several more times, getting knocked down multiple times by the force of the water – dirty, soaked and exhausted, you cleaned up, then pulled out a scripture promise from the box to read before going to bed. The verse was Isaiah 43:2 “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” Wow – what precious assurance our Father gave you! And, He kept His word – always!
Younger Me, remember the days of riding a motorcycle all over the country, riding mules up and down the mountain when your motorcycle couldn’t quite make it, delivering several hundred babies, treating burns, sewing up machete cuts, starting IV fluids, treating cases that went far beyond your own ability to treat, only because there was no one else there to do it? Remember the many, many times of crying out desperately to God for His help when you knew that you had done all that you could do, and it wasn’t enough? Remember the tears of gratitude when He answered your prayers, and brought healing that only could have come from Him? Oh, yes, there were days of loneliness, sickness, misunderstanding, etc…. But, I wouldn’t trade those 19 years in Haiti for anything!
Yes, Younger Me, you had a lot to learn through those years, but your God was with you all the way, and He didn’t expect you to be anything more than an obedient follower of Jesus, loving Him with all your heart! He taught you that you were a “success” if you were doing His will, no matter what that might look like to others. He gave opportunities over and over to share His love and the beautiful truth of the Gospel.
He taught you that there is no greater joy than knowing Him and helping others to know Him!
So, Younger Me, I plan to keep following Him for the rest of my life, until I see Him face to face someday!
Blessed in Jesus,