Jesse always imagined her future a certain way: I'll go to college, get married, move abroad, raise a family at the edges of the earth, and make Jesus known in a land that has never heard.
But then her dreams turned into waiting, and waiting turned into a decade, and now at 27, Jesse is fighting not to give up. Her only serious relationship ended when her then-boyfriend decided that he was called to, "a normal American life." But Jesse couldn't picture herself in that life - not when 44,000 people die every day without hearing of Jesus name, even once. Jesse wanted to serve at the edges, but she was afraid of going alone.
And she's not alone. She is part of a hidden multitude who all feel the same tension - "should I follow Christ's call if it means I'll be alone?" What are Jesse's options? She could get married and settle for a supporting role, and find ways to plug into God's global purposes from the US. Or she could wait around another decade, hoping she'll meet a man who shares her burden for the lost and forgotten. Or she could step out in faith and go overseas alone, suppressing her desire for a family, and praying that she might meet someone on the field.
For those who share a connection with Jesse's story, here are 4 tips:
1. Remember the big STORY.
Every life story has an unfolding plotline - one that wanders like a wind-blown leaf through seemingly random twists and turns. Most of us achieve some dreams that we thought were impossible, and we likewise fall pray to those tragedies we never expected... Brothers and sisters, amidst the constant rises and falls, take this moment to breathe deeply the fresh air of God's reminder: "I am at work." Your story is not a tragedy about some boy trampled under his vices. Your story is not a tragedy about a girl who went unnoticed. Your story ties into a much greater narrative that carries and eclipses it.
That bigger story goes like this: There is a King on a throne, waging a war. A decisive invasion has broken into the fortress of darkness, and every ounce of shame and tragedy will soon come undone. There is an unrelenting Love who has overcome his most potent foes, and He will soon be exalted by every tongue in heaven and on earth.
Your story, if you belong to Christ, is that you are a child of this victorious King. Every twist and turn in your little story is for a purpose - the great Author is skillfully crafting your life story for his glory. You will see him! You will reign with him! That is your truest Story, and any other way of looking at your life is a faulty approximation. May you be reticent to despair, for all your deepest suffering is never pointless, never unseen, never permanent.
2. Live Two Stories at Once.
You are a part of two stories at once: Your little life story and God's grand narrative. Both are true, and both require your attention, but only one can be your defining paradigm. Our drift is always toward the here and now, towards our small plotline. But imagine what it might look like to truly, deeply believe every implication of the gospel, and so live, even now, as a citizen of a better world. What freedom you might find if you could trade in your plotline for his! Radical living comes not from strenuous effort, but from simple faith that grasps its true situation - its true Story. If you find it difficult to follow Christ with abandon, it is probably not your effort that is lacking. What you need is to awaken to your true situation, then radical obedience will most naturally follow.
3. Listen to God's Call
God is calling some of you, here in now, to lay down your dreams and fears and follow him to the distant nations that have never heard of his love - what an honor to be invited into that story! God is calling some of you to take the next step, perhaps simply to Google: "the unreached" or "the 10/40 window". For some of you, God's call is not to the ends of the earth but rather to faithfulness in your present situation, or to one of a thousand other unique callings that He graciously gives. Listen to God's call, take the next step, and seek contentment wherever He sends you.
4. To Every Jesse:
Finally, because it is my great burden, I want to say a closing word to all who resonate with Jesse's story in particular - who feel her dilemma, specifically between the desire to follow Christ and the desire for marriage. I think this dilemma is quite common, so I have spent the last two years creating an online community for singles whom God has called to the lost and forgotten, those at the ends of the earth. Since its inception last March, CalledTogether (www.calledtogether.us), has grown to more than 1400 single Christ followers, who all share a burden for the nations. We've seen dozens of romantic relationships develop and grow, plus hundreds of friendships formed around the centrality of God's calling. If you feel alone in your journey, I invite you to come connect with others who share your calling for the unreached, whether you are seeking a spouse, teammates, or peer-friendships. You are not alone, and this tool aims to encourage you as you go.
But whether or not you find someone to join you in your calling, may you keep your eyes fixed on the unseen reality of God's Great Story, which alone brings meaning to every tear, until they are all wiped away, and which is worth more than anything else - the pearl of great price that is worth, dare I say, even a lifetime of single obedience.