Being here in Africa for such a short time has made me think seriously about my days. I feel driven to make the most of every opportunity for service, and to create opportunities if they don't exist. I only have so much time to make a difference and leave my mark. The thought that in a matter of weeks an ocean will separate me from these people, makes me feel like I'm in a race with time to accomplish all I possibly can. In quiet moments I often find myself jotting down goals and making To Do lists. I don't want to forget. I feel every day should be filled with people, work, or projects. I have to make every day count. This sounds good and all, but as always God had a lesson to teach me.
One morning I woke up feeling sick. I lay in bed trying to decide if I should go to work. How sick should I be not to work at the hospital? I didn't feel like working. My body was bone weary and most likely giving way to malaria. I struggled with what to do. My inner drive shouted in my ear, "Work, Heather! Work! You're here to serve people not lay in bed! You need to go help those hard-working nurses at the hospital. You need to go touch patient lives. You need to go visit in the village. You're a missionary. You can't afford to miss one opportunity! You don't want to fail at fulfilling your calling!" My body however pleaded for mercy. "Rest, Heather. You can't do everything. You're going to burn out. Give yourself a break."
As this inner tug-of-war continued in my mind I realized I needed to hear from God. I could not reason out what was the right thing to do. I went to Him in prayer and sought to still my own voices so I could hear His. It was then that He revealed something I hadn't comprehended before. Working alongside the Master is not a race to see how much you can do. It is not an endurance competition. Instead it is a daily surrender to be Spirit-led. Being Spirit-led is not proscribing how God will use you, but making yourself available for however God leads. He may lead through days filled with a flurry of work and activity, or He may lead through days of sitting quietly in His presence and waiting on Him.
God showed me that my drive to achieve had sometimes been more about me than about Him. I wanted to leave my mark. I wanted to invest and serve so I'd be remembered. I wanted to work nonstop so I couldn't possibly leave Tchad with the guilt that I could have done more. It was all about me.
Sometimes trusting God through a week of hospital work is easier than trusting God through 10 days of malaria. The one seems to be accomplishing good. The other seems to be a waste. But, God has been teaching me that Heaven estimates things differently than I do. God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, nor are His ways my ways. In His perfect wisdom He decides when I need to work and when I need to rest. Self must not have any part of it.
It is not always the amount we do that counts, but in whose name and strength we do it. God can and will accomplish His work on this earth, whether it be by many or by few. He is not dependent upon us, but He lovingly allows us to partner with Him. He wants us to shoot high and dream big dreams for Him, but He also desires us to walk so closely with Him that we are willing to be still and see the salvation of the Lord.
“Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou Thyself the answer to all my questionings;
Live out Thy life within me, in all things have Thy way!
I the transparent medium, Thy glory to display.”
“But restful, calm, and pliant, from bend and bias free,
Awaiting Thy decision, when Thou hast need of me.
Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings!
Be Thou the glorious answer, to all my questionings.”