Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Day 6: Which pill will you choose?
In the 1999 blockbuster science-fiction film The Matrix, lead character Neo must make a life-altering decision. Morpheus (in his long black leather coat and stemless sunglasses) invites him into the Matrix -- a complicated cyber-world of good and evil. Morpheus offers him a blue pill or a red pill. If he takes the blue pill he returns to his old life as he's known it, ignorant to the realities of the Matrix. If he takes the red pill, he will enter the world of the Matrix to fight and defend himself and humankind.
Neo's choice is simple, yet complex.
If he chooses the blue pill, he continues his average life as a computer programmer by day, computer hacker by night. Yet he'd have to live with the nagging feeling that he was made for something more. If he chooses the red pill, he'll be lunged into the unknown and confronted with resistance from a formidable adversary.Yet he'd have the opportunity to seize his destiny in life, the higher purpose he's felt calling to him for years.
Not long after The Matrix hit theaters, my husband Anthony and I faced our own Matrix-like decision. With the turn of the millennium, Anthony began to feel a pull towards something else. He'd become very successful in the telecommunications industry, having risen from a telemarketer to managing services for university and government markets. He'd taken quite a leap on the pay-scale over the years too. To say the least, he had become very successful in Corporate America.
For several years he'd also served as director of our church's youth ministry. He and I had grown to love the teenagers we served. Ant loved to teach the teens, and I supported him behind the scenes. We were seeing the young people grow in their walks with Christ, and couldn't be more fulfilled in ministry.
Like Neo, however, Ant had that nagging feeling that he'd been created for something else. Delving into prayer about it, he began to sense God leading him into full-time ministry. I was thrilled with the idea, even though we didn't have a clue as to the ministry we were to join. So together we prayed, talked with friends that were already serving in full-time ministry and researched various parachurch ministries.
While excited about the prospect of dedicating our lives to ministry, we also counted the cost. Like Neo we had the blue pill/red pill choice to make. Would Anthony continue to climb the corporate ladder, achieving promotion after promotion and pay raise after pay raise? Would he continue life as he'd known it, ignoring that nagging feeling that God had a higher purpose for him?
Or would he lay down worldly pursuits to pursue God's calling on his life? Would he choose an extreme pay cut -- a demotion, by the world's standards?
After addressing all the questions and doubts, we committed to follow God -- wherever he led us.
It was in this mindset that we visited Franklin, Tennessee in June 2000 for our anniversary. This being our second visit to Franklin, we didn't expect anything spectacular. However, from the moment we arrived there, we began to feel like God was up to something. Pastor Chris Williamson, an old friend and pastor of Strong Tower Bible Church, gave us a tour of the city, sharing his vision for this growing community. In church that Sunday, we both felt a draw to Strong Tower that we'd never expected.
I'll never forget our plane ride back to Baltimore. After some small talk about the trip, I swallowed hard and said sheepishly, "Why do I feel like God's calling us here?"
Anthony's eyes widened as he exclaimed, "Really? I do too!"
Well the rest, as they say, is history. Anthony and I spent nine years in Franklin, Tennessee. Anthony served as the Pastor of Inreach and then Assistant Pastor for Strong Tower. We loved Franklin and we loved Strong Tower. It amazes me how much we were used and how much we grew there. God did an amazing work in both of us those nine years.
But that amazing work would never have happened if we hadn't committed to follow God. It wouldn't have happened if we had decided we couldn't handle an extreme pay cut. It wouldn't have happened if we had chosen worldly gain over heavenly reward.
Like Neo entering the Matrix, entering full-time ministry was no cake-walk. We felt adversity almost the moment we stepped foot in Tennessee. We both had a lot of growing to do, and growing pains hurt. Yet there's no peace like the peace of knowing you're in the middle of God's will. There's no joy like the joy of following His lead. There's no satisfaction like the satisfaction of fulfilling His extraordinary purpose for You.
So which pill will you choose? Will you choose God's extraordinary purpose for your life, or your own ordinary purpose?
Purposed For Him,