God Appointed a Worm: Part 1

But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm…” ~ Jonah 4:7

The site of my conversation with Mr. D: A cross country invitational.

“You basically have three choices,” said my friend’s father. “You could get a job, you could continue schooling, or you could serve as a volunteer.” I was a senior in undergrad and was struggling with not having an answer for the question: “So what are you going to do with your life?

God appointed Mr. D to be there that fall morning 14 years ago. I am not even sure Mr. D knows the impact of our short conversation. However, it spurred in me a desire to apply to two different world mission organizations in order to serve as a volunteer.

One of the organizations offered me a position in either Japan or Taiwan. I was unfamiliar with both countries and went home to think about it. I didn’t know what to do, because they were far from my first choices. I couldn’t decide. So I did something completely ridiculous: I left it up to God via Walt Disney.

Disney’s Mulan

At the time, my favorite Disney movie was Mulan. I told myself (and God) that if Mulan was Chinese, I would go to Taiwan. If she was Japanese, I would go to Japan.  She was Chinese. That day, God graciously appointed a Disney movie on my behalf.

Texas Chicken: Where I met Toby

The following fall, I moved to Taiwan as an ESL teacher. I met Toby at a Taiwanese fast-food version of Church’s Chicken and began to share a ministry dream with him. Two and half years later, we moved back to the US and were married. We began to minster to international students; we had a family; ten years later, we moved to seminary; and… here we are today.

I’d like to say that I had a dream and that I have been pursuing that dream my whole life. I’d like to say that God clearly called me into teaching or student ministry or women’s ministry, and I have confidently followed His calling. I’d even like to say that I have never knowingly walked away from God’s purpose for my life. But that’s not really my story. It’s more like I’ve been stumbling around through life with God graciously appointing “little prompts” to push (sometimes shove) me in the right direction.

I am sure many of you feel the same way. “God, show me what to do.” “God, I am afraid to make a mistake.” “God, is this move the right one?”

Even though I never know the future. Even though I am unsure of my steps. Even though going to Taiwan, moving to campus ministry, having children, coming to seminary were huge, life-changing choices. Even though at times I feel out-of-control, God is forever in complete control – of me, of Toby, of my family, of this city, of this country, of this world, of this universe. I firmly believe that if I take a step in the right direction, it is because of God’s prompting. Likewise, I believe that if I take a step in the wrong direction, He will move me back.

God is gracious to appoint people and things along the way both to help guide us in the right direction and to help pull us out of the wrong. He has not washed us and hung us out to dry. He has washed us to make us His own. And if we are His own, He is relentless to keep us His own.

“In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.” Matthew 18:14

And if you’re wondering what a worm has to do with this post, that will be revealed in Part 2 of this blog…


Filed under Ministry, Spiritual thoughts

6 responses to “God Appointed a Worm: Part 1

  1. Walt

    Mom, Julia and I have been blessed to be part of what God has been appointing in your life… though it wasn’t always perceived as a blessing. I can remember hearing Mr. D say what he did to you and at the time feeling a bit upset about the volunteer (missionary) stuff (My daughter? Going where?) But I also remember others being put in your path by God who reaffirmed that calling! It was pretty overwhelming at the time! God used all of them and continues to use ‘new’ ones now and in the future. What an amazing God! And to think that I just finished preparing lessons for the Chinese students I teach – something God appointed others (you and Toby included) to help me see this! Wow! So… Mr. D, Mulan, Texas chicken, and countless others people and things used by God… Chinese Christians are right when they say: 所有荣耀属于上帝! (All glory belongs to God!)

  2. Michael Zeigler

    “He has not washed us and hung us out to dry. He has washed us to make us His own.”

    Definitely quoting that in a sermon someday.

  3. Jackie O.

    I remember that dinner at the chicken place all too well. Also the conversation I had with Toby later that night after you went to bed…

  4. debbie townsend

    Once again, thank you Rachel for letting God work through you.

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