Why Am I Here?

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After graduating from a Seventh-day Adventist academy, I considered leaving the church. But before cutting ties, I told God to give me Seventh-day Adventist friends during my first semester of college—or else. God used hay fever to connect me to my first friend at Andrews University. He gave me a caring roommate. He helped me to settle on studying communication, which transformed my understanding of human connection.

As a newly recommitted Adventist, I knew I should read the whole Bible. But I dreaded the books of prophecy. I did not want to hear about the end of the world and how horrible things would be.

I also hesitated to read the writing of Ellen White, fearing that her writings were not inspired, as some people in my church suggested. I feared being deceived. I was an avid reader of fiction, and I finally realized that the fairy tales and science-fiction I enjoyed were not less deceptive than the writings of a possibly false prophet. So I had nothing to lose when I read “Patriarchs and Prophets” during one school vacation. That summer reading drove me back to the Bible to check the facts.

I discovered Jesus as the Center of the Old Testament. I also discovered that Ellen White’s writings helped me to take practical lessons from the Bible. This shifted my life. The prophetic books came across as an urgent appeal by a caring, divine Friend desperately seeking a response from people who, like me, did not know their God. I could no longer see God as a vengeful, harsh critic. Often, in relationships, the closer one comes to another person, the more flaws one sees. But the closer I come to God, the more perfect He is.

I appreciate that God is Truth. He has nothing to hide. He never lets me get comfortable with who I am as a sinner. But He also is consistent. He never abandons me.

As a child, I had thought of becoming a missionary. But I lost my inner child’s faith, creating my own mission—to never experience poverty or struggle again. I wanted fame.

In God’s Word, I saw my personal missions as misguided. God is love. And true love is not self-focused. Love makes us our best when we give ourselves to Him for His plans. God dreams not only of our escape from poverty but also all suffering caused by sin. It is Jesus who deserves fame because He is the Source of life and security for the universe. This truth motivated me to prioritize God’s will after college—my first short-term mission to South Korea.

Commitment hurts. Anxiety is normal when looking into the unknown. I agonized through these questions: Why stay on the roller coaster of Adventism as a millennial and commit so deeply when my unchurched peers seem to lead more rewarding lives? Why face another mission as a single, thirty-five-year-old? What if I never have my own family? Can I really make a difference in someone else’s life? Will the people I reach receive a good picture of who God is? What is my commitment worth in a world of billions?

I have prayed, “God, why don’t You do what I want You to do with my life?” I recognize, though, that I have chosen my own way in the areas I find God most disappointing.

I have gained new skills by dedicating my time to God’s work. After canvassing, striking up meaningful conversations with strangers is simple. Teaching children helped me learn to think ahead. Teaching Youth Sabbath School showed me the value of aligning my life with God’s Word. I was surprised at the scriptural insight I received from the Holy Spirit while in Korea. These experiences built my trust in God. The truth found in Jesus and His Word continues to renew my commitment to Him.

I cannot expect what I want from life as a Seventh-day Adventist missionary. But I can expect to receive what I need for the moment to which He has called me. I trust that I have not wasted my time. God has never overlooked one of my talents or experiences. I have more life lessons to learn and so many ways to grow in service to God. Please continue to pray for my work in Thailand and our missionaries around the world.