God has planted a desire in my heart. A desire to be full of His love and mercy for the lost, hurting, and starving people of this world. It didn't spring up overnight, it's been a gradual process. In 2009 I went to visit some missionary friends in Africa for a month, and it was one of the most amazing months I've ever experienced. It opened my eyes to a whole new world outside of our American way of life – a lifestyle that I knew existed, but something that you almost have to experience first hand for it to really become a reality. I can still see the hunger. I can still see the poverty. I can still see the children who have huge grins on their faces even though they are living under less than ideal circumstances. And it's something that I'll never forget.
Sometimes it's easy to let myself get caught up in my own little world and then forget about all of the hurt that is going on around me. Between juggling schoolwork and a busy schedule, it's too easy to let other things be pushed out of my mind. But over the past few months I've become more and more aware of the hurt, pain, and need that there is around the world, and it's made me want to do something about it. I've also come to realize that it isn't just in third-world countries that there is hurt and pain... it's all around me right here in America.
I co-lead a girls Bible study, and one of our lessons in the past few months just happened to be on mercy. Since the person who is teaching always seems to learn more than those who are listening, I was again challenged in this area. God has called us to live lives of mercy, reaching out to those in need and showing them the love of Christ. One verse that stood out to me comes from Luke 7:47:
"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Once we realize how much mercy we have been shown and how much God has forgiven us, it brings about a new motivation to share this love and mercy with others. We often hear "God loves you" and I think that we've started to take it lightly. But when the full reality of that love hits us, how can we not want to share it with others?"Sometimes I question if I can really do anything that will matter. I'm just a teen growing up in the Midwest - can I really do anything of importance for the Kingdom of God? Through this, God has been showing me how small I am and how big He is. Without Him, I am nothing. He has given His all for me, and all He asks for in return is that I live my life for Him. Is that too big a price? God can and will do amazing things in and through us when we surrender our all to Him and allow Him to multiply it. He isn't looking for those who have it all - He's looking for those who are willing to give their all, no matter how insignificant it may be. Over and over again I'm reminded that we only have one life to live, and we need to live it for the glory of God.
Maybe someday I'll have the chance to go back to Africa, but honestly I don't know what God has planned for me. What I do know is that for now God has placed me here. I'm not in Africa. I'm not in Europe. I'm not in the town fifty miles from here. I'm right here in my little town in the middle of the USA. I don't want to wait to serve the Lord until it seems like the right time. He has placed me here for a purpose, and I pray that He would equip me to serve the people in my community. I keep reminding myself that there is no wrong place to serve the Lord – I need to serve right where He has placed me, no matter where that may be.