On a Mission: Love God, Love People
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to make an impact on the world. I can recall quite clearly when I knew I was to be called into the mission field: I was walking my dog and I remember thinking that there was nothing in this life but to love others and show them God’s love. I was in seventh grade. I was compelled by this unquenchable need to do anything and everything that would further God’s kingdom. And so I got involved - in anything and everything that I could. I started Bible studies at my school and I went on mission trips; I volunteered at my local hospital and gave sack lunches to the homeless of Chicago. And my eyes started to open to the suffering in the world.
It was at these points in my life that I would get so worked up about helping the world that I was afraid that if I was not doing everything and anything, then clearly I was not doing enough. A fear overtook me, centered mainly on the premise that I was inadequate. There is a quote from Ever After, spoken by Prince Henry, which has always resonated with me. In the movie, he states, “I used to think that if I cared at all, I would have to care about everything and I’d go stark raving mad. But! Now I’ve found my purpose.” Here was my dilemma: I was beginning to care about people other than myself; I was stepping out of my sheltered, selfish world and was seeing other people with needs that might just be more important than my own. And more than scaring me, it overwhelmed me. Jesus was very explicit in the Bible when it comes to living a life of servitude: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master” (New International Version Bible, John 13.14-17). Serving was not an option in His book, and neither was it an option in mine; it was a way of life.
Recently, I have become infatuated and enamored with the life and work of Mother Theresa. Here was a woman who made a difference in the world. I came across one of her quotes that very nearly changed my life: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” It was then that it stuck me: I did not have to change the world; I did not have to be superwoman and care about everything. I just had to love people. What an epiphany. My fears and anxiety evaporated as I meditated on that novel thought. Mother Theresa, perhaps one of the most selfless people of her generation, was telling me that even she could not change the world. I had to narrow my focus, find a purpose, as Prince Henry had hinted. And so I prayed. I asked God where He wanted me to make a difference. I asked him where my passions and my gifts would be needed. And he answered: Love my people, He told me.
And I have realized this: I do not have to change the entire world; all I have to do is change someone’s world. And I can do this through love. These acts of love do not have to be big, as Mother Theresa hinted, and they do not need recognition. They just have to come from the heart. There are people all over the world that just need someone to tell them they are special and loved. They need someone to reach out a helping hand and simply say, ‘I care about you and what happens to you.” I intend to do that. Throughout this whole revelation of mine, which spans many years and many prayers, I have realized that my life is more than just my own. I was born to bring glory to God, not myself. I plan, in the years to come, to change as many people’s world as I can merely by loving them and by using my education and training as a nurse. This calling may take me (and my family, God willing) all over the world, and I am fully prepared for that. Where and when God calls me, willingly I will go. I want to reach and meet people all throughout the Lord’s creation. And I am going to revolutionize heath care: I am going to do what so many of the people in medicine neglect to do. Namely, I am going to combine love and medicine, Jesus and science, to reach the truly sick and impoverished in the world. My patients are going to realize Jesus’ love for them by the love I will show them by administering to their physical needs. It is a beautiful picture that people – medical personnel – so often forget to paint; they become obsessed with the paychecks and social status associated with doctoring people and forget that they have been entrusted with human lives. More than acknowledging this factor, I am going to add another: when I become a nurse, I will not just be healing people physically, but I will be trying to save their eternal lives as well. And I could not be more excited to begin this, to show people Jesus’ love for them. My entire life will be dedicated to serving the modern lepers of the world – the sick, the unloved, the forgotten. This will by my contribution to creation, and as long as I do it with love, and do not get caught up with the numbers, change will happen. As Shane Claiborne wrote: “Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, and a few years later, Lazarus died again. Jesus healed the sick, but [they] eventually caught some other disease. He fed the ten thousands, and the next day they were hungry again. But we remember his love. It wasn’t that Jesus healed a leper but that he touched a leper, because no one touched lepers.”(The Irresistible Revolution 85).People still will get hungry again after I feed them, and some will still get sick and die. This can be very discouraging. But there is no negative side effect to love; only good can come of it. The beautiful thing about compassion is that it knows no bounds. This gives me hope. I want to reach every “leper” in the world today, so that at least one will realize that I have not forgotten him or her and so that they know that I care about them. This they will remember, more so than any medicine or food I may give them.
Yet just giving the needed resources to these people is not enough; I have learned that, too. Again, Jesus did not just meet the physical needs of his believers – by allowing them to see and walk, by giving them food – He also did what no other person was willing to do: He sat down and did life with these forgotten people – the prostitutes, the lepers, the beggars. He made sure that they knew that He cared about them. I know, deep down in my core, that my ministry will extend beyond the hospital, clinic, and medicine that will very soon surround and consume my life. My entire being will be dedicated and devoted to ministry. My home, my family, my everything, will reflect my passionate love for God and my insatiable desire to serve His people. My hope is that my home will become a refuge for people of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities – for both the short-term stay and the long, and that my family will become a real and thriving Church to all who encounter us.
I know one other thing about my life: God will grow my family into a family that shares the same dream. My future husband (if God so chooses to bless me with one– wherever he may be, and whenever he makes an appearance in my life) will be my best friend and business partner in this endeavor. If He does not share this passion to serve – anywhere and everywhere – he is not the man God laid aside for me, and me for him. I take great comfort in that – the peace and knowledge that God has a greater plan for my life than I could imagine, and that he has it all worked out for me, for my good.
My life is not my own to live; long ago I gave it to God, for His will to be done. Yes, I want to make a difference in this world. Yes, I want to leave a remarkable legacy. But more important that all of that, I want, when I die and stand before my maker, for Him to look upon me with love and pride, and say simply, with outstretched arms, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”