After a busy decade of getting married in California, moving to London, having kids and getting established, I was uniquely given the lovely birthday gift of an aeroplane ticket to visit my parents in San Francisco – all by myself! It was the strangest yet most wonderful of moments being able to travel without anyone asking for snacks, toilet breaks, or colouring books throughout the flight.
It was my first (and only) time going back home and getting to just focus on visiting with my parents and being their daughter. Thanks to my loving husband looking after the kids and home, I had a true break from my roles of wife and mother to be refreshed.
My dad and I were talking at the kitchen table about the many old movies we used to watch together, and I recalled the 1958 movie, The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness with Ingrid Bergman. Based on a true story, Bergman played the character of British-born Gladys Aylward, a Christian missionary to China in the 1930’s. Aylward was especially compassionate towards children and helped lead many to safety over the mountains, during a Japanese invasion of China.
I think I was about six or seven years old when I first saw this movie, and though it was the Hollywood interpretation, I remember being truly inspired by such a brave woman of faith. God used this movie to speak into my childhood calling and from that moment, I knew I wanted to be a missionary when I grew up.
As I progressed in my education, my childhood calling was put on the shelf of my mind. The years passed by and in high school, I took a short course on fashion at a local art college. I felt God prompting me to apply to fashion school along with a variety of other universities.
As a Christian going into a very secular industry, I had to really keep trusting God to guide me. Was this really part of the plan? My original desire to become a missionary faded into the background as I concentrated on my studies.
After finishing my degree, I was blessed to find a job near my hometown in fashion merchandising / production. I stayed in the fashion industry when I married and moved to the UK, only leaving when we were starting a family.
There have certainly been times when I questioned going into the world of fashion. Could that bring God as much glory as me becoming a missionary? I wondered if my first childhood calling was simply heard incorrectly. But in those moments and having had conversations with my parents, God has opened my eyes to the complexity and intricacy of his callings on our lives.
I kept getting stuck thinking I could only ever have one calling, but we serve the God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” (Ephesians 3:20) which now makes sense to me that really, I have had several specific callings on my life. God revealed to me that without my knowledge, I have been fulfilling my first childhood calling. Being a missionary, in the broadest of terms, simply means someone sharing Jesus with others. And that I am doing! Really, I think everyone who follows Jesus has the calling to be a missionary in his or her own capacity and community.
I came to England over a decade ago, not knowing anyone except my husband, his family, and briefly meeting a few acquaintances at church. God has enlarged my network, greater than anything I could have planned, and without even being aware, I have already been sharing Jesus along the way! In my words, actions, way of living, and even through mistakes along the way, I have sought to make my life about living for Jesus in every way.
It’s wonderful when, over time, God connects some of the dots in our lives. Nothing seems to be wasted in God’s kingdom. His messages, callings, and promptings, however mysterious to us, will be used for His glory.
So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.Isaiah 55:11