My spirit leapt within me as soon as I heard those words, my heart bursting with love for God and a desire to serve Him, to give my whole life over to Him, whatever the cost. I couldn’t stop my legs from moving – I came to the front, weeping tears of worship and humility. The preacher prayed over me, that God would confirm that call, and that I would test it by doing some short-term mission.
In my heart, I resolved to do just that, and decided that that would be the summer when I would begin to test God’s call on my life.
There was just one problem. I was fifteen.
As I searched through all the leaflets and information about mission opportunities, I became increasingly dismayed. There were no opportunities for someone my age. It was all sixteen and above. What about Samuel, and David, and Timothy, called when they were super-young? Did mission agencies not know that God had called me NOW?
Finally I found one. I could barely contain my excitement as I showed it to my mother.
‘Look, Look! World Horizons are doing a short-term mission to Liverpool, and they take anyone aged 14 and over! I think God is calling me to go on this mission trip.’
Immediately, my mother started in with the questions and reservations. Who were World Horizons? What kind of church was it based with?
I answered her impatiently with the information I had.
“Where did you say it was?” she asked.
“Toxteth, Liverpool.” I replied.
“You’re not going,” she said simply.
Unbeknownst to me, Toxteth had been known in the previous decade for its riots, and the footage of looting, stabbing and burning cars had horrified the entire nation. Toxteth was a terrible place to go. You would not send your friend there, let alone your fifteen-year-old daughter.
As all good teenagers do, I wheedled, I whined, I nagged. I also prayed, and hoped that Mum would realise that this was God’s call on my life, so He would protect me.
She eventually agreed and I went to Toxteth on mission. I stepped out in faith, and I had an amazing time. I learnt so much from the love and witness of those who were working in that tough inner-city environment. Through the barely-comprehensible Liverpudlian accents I found people who were poor and bored and who needed the gospel and needed love.
I was stretched in my faith. I did things I thought I’d never be able to do – drama and street evangelism and leading worship. I was still scared, and way out of my comfort zone, but I saw God use us, in our weakness and youth. I had stepped out, and God had caught me and led me on.
It took me almost twenty years and becoming a mother myself to realise that the person who had most stepped out in faith was not me but my mother.
It is one thing to give your life to God’s service, to say to God, ‘here am I, send me’, but it is the deeper and more costly sacrifice to say of your daughter, ‘here she is, send her.’ I am thankful for the faith of my Mum to trust in God for me. Young and naive and eager as I was, she recognised my heart for God and desire to serve and she helped fan into flame the gift of God in me.
True discipleship is hazardous. Discipleship always involves sacrifice and trust in God, but for those of us who are parents, there is a even greater challenge here: If God calls, will we let them go, whatever the cost?
Deep down, are we prepared to trust God with our children?
I’m sharing My Hazardous Faith Story as part of a synchroblog connected with the release of Ed Cyzewski and Derek Cooper’s new book Hazardous: Committing to the Cost of Following Jesus. To discover more about the book and to read others’ Hazardous stories, click here.
Also linking with Life Unmasked and WIP Weds.
Over to you:
- Have you ever stepped out in faith like this?
- If you are a parent, what do you think of the challenge of trusting God with your children?
- Is it easier to say ‘Here am I, send me’ than ‘Send him/her’?
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