In my teen years, I read the biographies of missionaries like Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, Jim and Elizabeth Elliot and Lottie Moon, and ask God to help me be as bold and sacrificial with my life as they were. I thought it would lead to exotic missions somewhere foreign like India or Kazakstan. At the very least, I thought I would do something dramatic for a few years, then maybe settle down to a more "normal" American lifestyle.
As fate would have it, I went to college straight out of high school, grabbed my first real world job close to home and then met and married Philip. Those early dreams of being bold and sacrificial faded as I skipped dramatic and went straight for mundane - or did they?
Today, I'm experiencing the busiest and fullest phase of life yet. With Philip working for Elevation Church, myself working full-time, raising our daughter and still managing to keep up passions like running, couple's counseling (now that Philip is ordained, we are doing more and more pre-marital and it's the BEST), worship leading and, obviously, side hustling this brand writer thing, life has never been more demanding. But to us, it doesn't feel demanding. It feels full, overflowing and filling.
In the past year, we counseled three couples preparing for marriage. Last weekend, I held Cora as we watched Philip baptize two children. A couple weekends ago, after singing during worship, I got to watch from the stage as a man overwhelmed by emotion raised his hand indicating he had accepted Jesus as his savior. And, the company I work for is all about community transformation and spreading the gospel, which means I am able to lean on a ministry mindset for what I do there too.
I used to think being used by God was supposed to look like cleaning orphans' faces or Bible translation in a distant land, but now I see that God is using me just as powerfully to demonstrate what John Piper meant by not wasting your life in a place where ambition, wealth, comfort and leisure steal so much potential. If the way I live challenges someone to pursue Christ more, especially to the point of some sacrifice, that's what motivates me through an extra long day.
Whenever I start to think it's all too much or unfair or too limiting to our leisure time, I think back to those early prayers for God to help me leave this earth wrung out from every eternity-focused act I was able to do. And then it dawns on me; this is that life. The extra commitments, the full weekends, the ministry to individuals in addition to the crowds - that's what sacrifice looks like. I can't resent what I prayed for. I signed up for this.