It’s amazing how life happens. We can be going along in our everyday ordinary lives, when all of a sudden something changes. God intervenes, and transforms our lives, and establishes our destiny.
About a year and a half ago, I was comfortable. Life was going well. Megan and I were figuring out our post-Army life finally. I was doing well in school. Softball season had started, and home runs were flying over the fence, sometimes even off of my own bat. It was awesome.
I took this class, called Mission of God, and on the first day we were to introduce ourselves. In the introduction we were supposed to do the normal seminary introductions, but in addition to that, we were supposed to say how we saw our future ministry lives as it pertains to missions. I was in the middle of the class, so I got to hear one after another talk about where they wanted to go, and what they wanted to do. My friend Maile talked about going into missions and working with Project Rescue. My hero Matt Wilkie was in that class and he talked about the work he had done with Book of Hope and now Convoy of Hope. Then, eventually, it got to me.
I said, “Hi, my name is Shawn Deal. I’m pursuing a Master’s in Divinity,” and then with all the cockiness that I’ve learned from watching 30 years of professional wrestling, I said, “and I’m never going to be a missionary. I grew up as a missionary kid, so I know how much it stinks, so there’s no way I’m ever going to do it.”
Why did I open up my mouth?
The next morning I was driving to class, listening to the Jim Rome show, laughing and lighthearted. Just feeling good! Then God spoke up. Now, some of you have never heard God speak to you in an audible voice. Some may even believe, sitting in this church that this doesn’t happen. It does, though. We don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but if you are constantly seeking His Kingdom, and His will, God will speak to you.
God said, “Shawn, you know why I have never asked you to be a missionary right?” Suddenly, it was if Jim Rome was no longer on my radio, and all I could hear was that question over and over. I finally answered, why? “Because you’ve never even let me. Will you just let me have the possibility of asking?”
I couldn’t speak. All I could do was cry as God began to soften my heart and break down the wall I had put up in my heart. Each day, during the 8 hour class for the rest of the week, that question would constantly pop up in my mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to answer yes. I couldn’t do it. I love the United States of America. I loved ESPN, but now I love Fox Sports 1 even more. I love Cheddars, and I love Brenton Miles. I didn’t want to even think about leaving.
On the final day of the class, we spent an hour in the prayer room there at the school. Dr. Rance started the prayer time with this: “If God has been speaking something in you this whole week, go ahead and pray it out right now.” Next thing I knew, my mouth was open, and I began to pray out loud: “God, I’m sorry. I’ve let fear, I’ve let my hurt from my life as a missionary kid, I’ve let my selfishness, and I’ve let my comfort keep you from even asking me to be a missionary. I’m sorry. If you want to ask, go ahead.”
I was in the clear! I could stay in the states. I could keep eating at Taco Bell! I could keep hitting Horton Smith Golf Course with Mike when Jarinda lets him go with me! I was good to go!
Boy was I wrong!
A few months later, I’m sitting over there on the third row, like I did every Sunday, watching all these new missionary candidates get gifts, when out of nowhere, God spoke to me again. “Shawn, someday, you’re going to be up there getting gifts as a new missionary!” He didn’t even ask. He just called. During the same service, as Mark and I were reading off the names of the different missionaries and where they were going, God spoke to Megan, as well. We barely had time to talk about it, though, because I had thirty minutes to get back to the house, and go to youth camp. I hadn’t even packed yet!
So what was my answer?
I don’t know.
I got comfortable. I loved being the youth pastor here. I loved being able to speak into the lives of the students every Wednesday night. I loved working with, and for Pastor Ted. I loved being a part of the church I pastored at.
Sometimes, God speaks to you directly, and sometimes he uses others. I mean, sometimes, he even uses a donkey. In my case, he used Todd Churchill, a missionary I had never met until two and a half weeks ago. We began to talk about the future. I told him about the call God had placed in the hearts of Megan and I, but also told him about my fears and insecurities. He was having none of it. He punched me in the gut, not with his fist, but with his words.
“When God calls you to do something, to go somewhere, whatever. Your yes, or your no, impacts somebody else’s eternity.”
When God calls you, your yes or your no impacts someone’s eternity! While I didn’t think I was saying no, my “God, can you wait for me to do this first. And then I want to do that. Finally, when I get all that done, I’ll go.” That was a no! My no was impacting someone’s eternity!
As I sat in Sunday school just a few days later, I opened up my kindle to 1 John 3, so we could talk about Brandon’s message some more from the previous Wednesday, which we often did for Sunday school, when my mouth just started talking. Megan was trying to elbow me, but what was happening were the results from 2 straight days of prayer and I couldn’t stop.
When God calls you, your yes, or your no, impacts someone’s eternity. What is your answer?
God called. I answered.