As the client signed on the dotted line, Sandra smiled to herself. She was her insurance agency’s most valuable employee and on track for a promotion. Maybe to partner even. Her life was going on so well – five-digit salary, a wonderful boyfriend, a thriving cell group in church…but she still felt something was missing. She couldn’t tell what it was.
After Sandra gave her client a warm handshake and smile, she headed towards the carpark. A familiar figure approached her.
“Hey Sandra.” The tall man with dark skin called out, his face lighting up. Sandra paused, her mind whirring. Where had she seen him before?
“Pastor Tim?” she asked.
Tim nodded vigorously and said, “You visited my church in Thailand last year with your church’s mission team.”
Sandra laughed once she remembered. Then she winced at the memory. She had felt God’s strong presence in Pastor Tim’s church and sensed that God might be calling her to become a missionary. That calling seemed like lightyears away since she buried herself in her work.
Pastor Tim was a fellow Singaporean who served as a missionary in a small village off Chiangmai. His whole family was there now for nearly five years. Since they were not in a rush, he bought Sandra a cappucino at a nearby café as he explained what had happened the past year.
“I’m back for a short break,” Tim said between sips of his flat white coffee. “When would you be coming back? We need good labourers in God’s harvest field.”
Sandra rubbed her forehead. “I don’t know. Things have been really busy. I got to check my schedule.” She knew being busy wasn’t a good excuse. You had to make time for the important things in life.
“Ok, let’s see how God leads you.” Pastor Tim prayed for her and left. She sat there for a few minutes pondering and praying if she gave the right answer. She whispered a short prayer for God to open and close the doors in her life. Then she went home.
Over the next few weeks, Sandra got promoted to partner. At her celebration with her family, her boyfriend proposed to her and she accepted it gleefully. But she still felt hollow inside. Pastor Tim’s conversation haunted her again and again. But how could she leave her job at this point? She needed money for her upcoming wedding and the house payments. It was impossible!
How could God call her at this time when it was hardest for her to give it all up? “God, can you call back later, maybe when I’ve retired and my children have moved out?” She prayed. Her boyfriend, Johnny, noticed her stirring the mushroom like a machine, her eyes glaced over.
“Hello, earth to Sandra?” Johnny said, pulling a funny face. Normally she would laugh, but this time she didn’t. “Tell me what’s happening.”
Sandra sighed and told him about her conversation with Pastor Tim and it kept gnawing at her again and again. Johnny folded his arms and leaned back. “So God might be calling you to full-time missions?”
Sandra nodded, unsure how Johnny would take it. She decided to plunge in. “I might need to give up the job at the firm.”
Johnny’s face turned red, his nostrils flaring. He slammed his hands on the table, shaking the bowls and cups. “What? You just became partner and now you’re giving it all up? Think about the wedding and house installments.”
Sandra gulped. She almost didn’t recognise this side of Johnny. He had been on a few mission trips before too. Why would he react this way?
Johnny said, “Let those missionaries do their thing. You can serve God in many other ways.” With that, he continued eating his Vongole pasta. Sandra lost all appetite.
That night, she prayed a few hours. She was reminded of Jesus, who was the Father’s first missionary. Who gave up his place in heaven to come to earth in the form of a baby. Who suffered and bled on the cross for her sins. If God gave up so much for her, her sacrifice seemed almost pitiful in comparison.
Sandra wept and asked God for forgiveness. But what about her career? Her boyfriend? So many uncertainties. As tears rolled down her cheeks and onto her handphone screen, she wrote a message to Pastor Tim.
This is a story I wrote in relation to my previous blog post “God, can you call back later?”. It’s fictional but the struggle is real. Many have sacrificed in order to heed God’s call. Not everyone will be called into full time ministry. But everyone is called to be a disciple of Jesus.