“God, please don’t send me to Africa”
by John Fischer
What do you love to do? Chances are that love can be tapped into as service for the Lord. This kind of thinking may seem obvious, but it is radical at least to my Christian upbringing.
I grew up with a kind of warped Christianity that taught that if I was passionate about something, it was probably wrong. God was the great killjoy in the sky. Virtue was painful. The good usually felt bad. The bad (we were told) felt good. Denying yourself meant never doing anything you really wanted to do. Conversely, if you hated doing something, that was most likely what God was calling you to do. “God, please don’t send me to Africa” was a prayer you’d better not pray, because that was the first place he would probably send you if you prayed that prayer. As you might imagine, this kind of thinking turned out a generation of very dull, boring Christians who were always suspicious of having fun. Where do you think the Church Lady on Saturday Night Live came from, anyway?
Actually, God is one who delights in giving us our heart’s desire. In fact, he’s the one who gave us our desires in the first place, and he gave them to us not to frustrate us but to help us be useful and fulfilled in our service for him.
Think of what you know about King David in the Old Testament. Now here’s a guy who obviously loved music, poetry, women, and war. So he became a warrior/king and all his passions, in their proper places and under the Spirit’s control, drove him to be not only a great king, but a man after God’s own heart. God didn’t give him all these passions and then tell him to spend his life being a scribe in a cave somewhere. (He saved that for me!)
As a child, I had a passion for music. I would spend hours doodling on the piano, and when I got my first guitar, it became the goal of my life to make the same sounds I heard in my favorite songs. When, as a young adult, God put the idea in my head to use all these passions and skills to write and perform music about his Gospel and his truth, I thought I wasn’t hearing correctly at first. That couldn’t be serving God; that would be too much fun! It took an adjustment of my understanding of God and his ways to really believe God was in this. Now I know that this is the way he works. If he wants us to do something, he’ll put a desire in our heart to do it.
God is not in the frustrating business; he is in the fulfilling, joy-filled business. So if you are desirous of serving God, think first about what you can do and what you love to do. Serving God will be along those lines.