Early last week it hit me that I was on my own when it came to preparing for the mission field (or seemingly so). That I was not being very useful (or seemingly so) in the church and that no one was recognizing my gifts (whatever they are). Then throughout the week all these thoughts were in my mind that things will be like they always were: I'll never develop in my use of my gifts and thus, never get adequate preparation to be a missionary. Not only would I get inadequate preparation thoughts were going through my mind that my call to the mission field field was all in my head. The main reason for this could be due to the fact that my church's denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) seems to discount any notion that God sometimes chooses to speak to His people via dreams...which is what happened when I was called to the mission field (read testimony here). I think there are those in the PCA that would disagree but it seems like for the most part people believe that some spiritual gifts are not in use today. This gave me another reason to allow myself to get discouraged because the only two gifts that any of the "encouraging Christians" thought I had over the years were prophecy and discernment of spirits. In addition to those gifts, I had such a passion to make Christ known that I believed that I probably had the gift of evangelism. Based on what I had been hearing in my church lately, I am confident that none of these gifts are thought to be used in the church today...not even a gift of evangelism. So my calling was invalid and my gifts are no gifts at all...and I was completely helpless because everyone in my church would think I'm utterly in error and think I am an immature believer and not someone that could be recommended for missionary service...such were my thoughts. So I was doubting my call and my gifts and on the idea that I could take steps of faith in following the Lord to the mission field trusting that I would not make a fool of myself. I was feeling very alone and was beginning to wonder if I was being foolish to keep on trusting that Jesus called me and that He would prepare me well, in spite of many believers over the years thinking I was immature, was not gifted enough, foolish to think I could be a missionary when it was obvious to them that I was just a shy brown girl with barely any natural abilities. Maybe I was destined to have all this pent up desire to make Christ known to "everyone" and only be an attender at church, never use my spiritual gifts, and work day in an day out only because I need to pay off debt, and later be a stay at home mom no other moms would want to be around. The thing was I did not want to believe those thoughts. I still believe that Jesus called me to make Him known to "everyone" and that whatever spiritual gifts He gave me and whatever natural abilities He gave me are suitable for His using me for that. He has a way of getting people's attention and making it clear that it was He who called me to be a missionary. And I want to obey Him. I do not believe that I am a nut either and though I can be prideful I did not make all this up to puff myself up. I love the Lord, read and study His word, worship Him, pray for His people, try to make myself useful to Him...but I'm afraid I would look like a "nut" to the people in my church and not someone that is "good enough" to serve Jesus. It seems like most of the Christians in my life over the years just wanted me to put myself on a "shelf" where they seemed to think I belonged. For example, a pastor told me that I would never learn Spanish when I was seeking to do mission work in Mexico and he could have just told me to give up. I was very discouraged and struggling to fight against it, and asked the Lord to be merciful and asked for encouragement because I wanted to keep on trusting Him. Yesterday I was filled with joy. At certain times in my Christian life when I need encouragement greatly the Holy Spirit has a way of giving me joy and strenthening my faith. Today I was at peace to trust Him to use me as He sees fit and that I am not meant to be put on a shelf. It is not foolish to think that He could use even me (someone that does not seem very gifted) to carry out the Great Commission. I love the Lord Jesus and it is not foolish or nutty to want to serve Him. I will serve and worship Him forever, it is only fitting that I seek to do so here the best way I know how...and that Jesus will be merciful to me when I am in error and correct me. So I conclude that those discouraging thoughts were from the flesh and even from the enemy and that I will instead walk in the direction of serving the Lord as a missionary and trust that He will equip me and correct me along the way. It pleases Jesus to trust Him in everything, and I love Him so that is what I am going to do by God's grace. And there is great joy in that!