Jeff Goins and I connected a few years ago via Twitter. We both have a heart for missions and started brainstorming ways to partner our organizations together. He quickly became a friend, and it's been a joy watching his journey unfold the past few years. He is a solid guy—wicked smart, gifted writer, and passionate about not only telling great stories, but living them as well. His new book Wrecked is poignant and inspiring. You definitely need to read it! I've asked Jeff to share one of his experiences of learning to embrace the messy grit of life.
It was senior year in college, and I thought I knew a thing or two about life. I thought I had it all figured out, that I knew the direction of my destiny. Everything, I thought, was going according to plan.
I was wrong.
My plan was this: study Spanish, learn the language, graduate college, and move abroad. My best friend had moved to Guatemala, so I thought I'd follow him. What could be better?
But then one Saturday afternoon, I attended a church service where a gentleman was sharing about the 10/40 window and the needs of people all over the world — not just in Latina America.
He messed me and my little plan up.
The more the man talked, the more uneasy I felt. And the more I realized this was my bright idea and maybe not God's. Finally at the end of the day, I approached him, asking the question that was burning in my heart.
"I speak Spanish. Shouldn't I go to some place where I already know the language and culture?"
He smiled and shook his head, full of grace. I prodded and asked and wanted to know why, why he was ruining all my wonderful plans.
Then he said something I won't soon forget: "The gifts never precede the call."
But that wasn't enough for me. I wanted specifics: charts and graphs and whatnot. He told me it was good that I knew Spanish, but that I couldn't go to God with my abilities, asking him to merely bless them.
Instead, I needed to follow him, to go where I felt called, and trust that what I needed to serve would follow. He explained that one approach (mine, I gathered) was prideful, asking God to baptize my preexisting plans; and the other was the way of faith, of trusting without seeing.
Days after that meeting, I started watching videos about China and got excited. A year later, I spent a month in Taiwan.
I'm still figuring it out, but this is the tough part of pursuing our life's work. Things don't always go according to plan; sometimes, we don't get what we want. And maybe that's what a calling is all about.
... ... ...
Jeff Goins is a writer who lives in Nashville. You can find him on his blog at goinswriter.com and follow him on Twitter at @jeffgoins. His book, Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life, just came out. Find out more at wreckedthebook.com.
How have you seen God show up in your own life when things didn't go according to plan?