God Wants You to Be Developed, Not Just Discovered
From the time I was 21, I felt desperate to serve God. I remember praying fervently for him to use me: Here I am Lord, send me, and then I left the where and to whom up to him. Soon, when leaders at my church asked for volunteers to serve on a cleanup team, I said yes. When I was asked to help start a center for at-risk teens, I said yes. Even when it meant cleaning up vomit after a drunken teen lost it in front of me. That was the day I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Christine, this is what you’re going to spend your life doing—wiping up the vomit of a lost and a broken generation.” I was undone. I was right where I was supposed to be.
When my pastor said, “Christine, I want you to be the state director of our denomination’s youth movement, Youth Alive,” once again, I said yes. I was a single woman, called to be an evangelist, willing to serve in any way I could wherever I could.
As state director, I traveled country roads to a different town each week. I drove eight to nine hours one way to develop youth leaders, help build youth ministries, and speak at evangelistic rallies. While I faithfully walked out my yes, I never lost my wonder at seeing God save young people, and yet, there were times when I felt so alone and so in the dark. Times when I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d made the right decision. If I were in the right place. If I were doing the right thing.
I’m not sure what I had imagined my life to be—especially on the nights when I found myself couch surfing or officing out of my car, long before there were cell phones and laptops—and I couldn’t help but wrestle with my thoughts wondering if this was what the rest of my life would be. I had left a corporate job with lots of promise to step into ministry, only to find myself sometimes more alone than fulfilled, with more questions than answers. The whole concept of walking by faith and not by sight had sounded far more glamorous when I first said yes.
But in those early years, God was preparing me. Intentionally. In the dark. In obscurity. Where no one could see me—because that’s where we’re developed and truly prepared for what God has prepared for us.
Isn’t that what happened to King David in the Bible? He was a shepherd boy, tending his father’s sheep when the Prophet Samuel came looking for the next king of Israel. He was just a boy of 15 faithfully doing everything his father assigned him to do, and after Samuel anointed David, he went back to tending sheep. Twenty years later he was appointed king (1 Samuel 16:13: 2 Samuel 5:1-4). Can you imagine waiting 20 years to do something God’s anointed you to do? I can!
Technology may have almost caught up with the speed of light, but God’s processes never will. I understand that we live in a world where it seems everyone is waiting to be discovered, instead of developed. We live in an age of selfies and instant uploads, of Instagram celebrities and talent-discovering TV shows, but God’s idea of preparation is more like the years I spent in obscurity, living out one yes after another.
Looking back, I liken it to the multi-step process of developing photos in a dark room, something common only a decade ago: going into the darkroom, removing the film from the canister, stretching out the film, re-rolling it onto a reel that was submerged into the developer…and on the tedious process went, one chemical bath after another, developing one image after another. Slowly.
The difference between taking a selfie today and taking a picture years ago is astounding. And misleading. In our snap and upload world, we can begin to think our life is supposed to be just as quick. Just as instant. Just as miraculous. We can begin to think that stepping into our purpose, dreams, career track or ministry, should be faster, sooner, easier.
But it never will be. I have learned that like the old-fashioned way of developing film in a dark room, stepping into all that God’s called us to do is a process, one that often takes years in the making.
God’s always using our present to prepare us for our future. Always preparing us for what he’s prepared for us. Always working in us so he can work through us. Because he understands we need to be developed, not discovered, to move into all the plans and purposes he’s designed just for us.