"And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Vs-22-24
This verse has a lot of meaning for me. When I was 13 years old, I was reading about different single women that God called to be missionaries to foreign countries. I was TERRIFIED of possibly being called to a jungle to minister all by myself! There was no way I was going to surrender that much. I had just given my life to Christ and made a reassurance of my salvation, but I did NOT want anything to do with missions. I made that very clear to God too! Unable to shake a constant pull at my heart, I began to read the Bible and came across Acts 20:24. I couldn't stop thinking about it! "Oh no! God we already talked about this...remember??" I tried for at least 2 weeks to ignore anything that the Spirit was trying to show me. I thought of EVERY possible horror that could happen while on the mission field. I don't even like tent-camping never mind hut-living!
But we all know that God's ways are not our ways. I was sitting in church with my family at a Missions Conference (of course) when Elmer Fernandez was preaching about surrendering to Christ. I really don't even remember everything he said because I could not stop thinking about Acts 20:24. "Is your life really that precious to you, Julie?" My heart was breaking and all the walls I built up were crumbling down. I was fighting with God-IN CHURCH! The battle was long but the surrender was so sweet. "YES! I'll go...whatever it is, here I am." All I remember was Pastor Fernandez saying, "If anyone will surrender to the work of a missionary please come down to the front so we can pray for you." I didn't even think twice! I popped out of my pew and made a focused bee-line for the front. Peace flooded me, I felt like I was exactly where God wanted me to be. I asked Mr. Fernandez to sign my Bible after church and he signed, "Elmer Fernandez-ACTS 20:24." Can you believe that?! I was awe struck at the vivid stamp of approval or confirmation that God gave me that night. I will never forget that time in my life.
I am not a full-time missionary right now, but I have been able to see God use this verse to be my rock through many stormy trials! To constantly remind me that it's not about me or self-preservation...the goal is testify to the world about Christ. I married a fabulous husband who shares this passion for the mission-field and really just the lost in general....wherever that is. Currently, Stephen ministers to college and career aged men and women as a pastor and I serve at Turning Point (Christian Radio/TV). God, help us to "be" where you have us at each twist and turn down the road.
Just as Paul was not sure what was up ahead at Jerusalem, I am unsure of what is in store for Stephen and I in the years to come. However, I am encouraged that what ever befalls us, God will give us the grace to say, "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."