Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.
I heard the above quote yesterday while listening to one of my favorite podcast. It’s so true, and it caused me to think about a post I’ve been meaning to write.
There are a lot of exciting things happening in my life and ministry right now. I’m simply overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude and excitement over what God is doing.
But most of you are not aware of the process that has led here. I’ve been reflecting on the number of times I’ve experienced rejection or setbacks over the past decade. These experiences, though painful and/or frustrating, were crucial in bringing me up to this point. Allow me to share a few:
I earned a Master of Divinity (theological degree) in 2000. I found a job near the school, so I decided to stick around the city and take a few more classes. Later that year I learned that a college ministry organization was hiring part-time staff to implement a city-wide campus strategy. I was really excited about it–my supervisor at my “secular” job told me they would work with me on my schedule if I was hired. The interview went pretty well, and I eagerly awaited their response. I thought God was finally opening the door for me to do campus ministry–something I had wanted to do for years.
Rejected–I wasn’t offered one of the part-time positions in campus ministry. I kept looking for other campus ministry positions in the States, but doors just didn’t open.
Fast-forward a few years. I ended up pursuing campus ministry here in Manila through a missionary organization. I moved here in July of 2002, an experience that has changed my life forever. But this new ministry opportunity was not the end of “rejection” experiences. I’m just getting warmed up.
I got interested in publishing around 2004 or so. I wanted to make a book out of my personal ministry journal–something that would inspire others to consider becoming missionaries. I did some research and put together a sample for a professional Christian manuscript service. Rejected: they told me it just wasn’t interesting enough to attract readers.
I had been in the Philippines for a couple of years by this time. I wanted to see if campus ministry opportunities in the States were an option for me (I was trying to plan ahead for the time when my term with the missionary agency would end). I sent my resume around, but couldn’t get anyone to take me seriously.
2005 came, and my term with the missionary agency was coming to an end. Leaving the Philippines just didn’t feel right, and I asked the agency for another 2-3 year term. This was a time in which the organization was cutting back personnel here, so they declined my request. I ended up raising my own support and coming back as an independently funded missionary.
Fast forward to late 2006. God was doing wonderful things through our True Love Waits seminars, and I sensed the need to write about relationship/purity issues. I had written a few posts on this blog, but still wasn’t sure exactly where it was going. I offered to write some articles for a friend of mine who was starting up a new website for youth. Rejected again–without going into all the details, my friend declined my offer.
I had written several articles by late 2007, and I got up the nerve to mention the possibility of publishing a book. My blog readers were very encouraging. Within days (literally) of that post, I experienced a breakup. Painful as it was, it really helped me in writing some of the chapters about breakups and heartaches.
These are just a few of the “misfortunes or temporary defeats” I’ve experienced over the past decade. But let’s rewind and think about a few of them:
*I probably never would have come to the Philippines if I had found a campus ministry opening in the States in 2000.
*The same goes for 2004-2005. If a campus ministry opening had presented itself in the States I may have taken it and missed out on these last four wonderful years of ministry in Manila.
*I may not have developed this blog to the point of publishing a book if my friend had accepted my offer to write for their ministry.
There’s a lot more I could say here. But I want you to think about a Bible verse:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Guess what–God knows what He’s doing! And sometimes this means allowing His children to experience rejection. God loves us too much to sabotage His long-term plan with our short-term wants.
Have you experienced rejection or setbacks? Don’t give up–God is trying to teach you some valuable lessons and set you up for greater things.
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