I vividly remember standing up to give my student council speech running for “Secretary of Internal Affairs” in high school. I neither identified as, nor was seen as a strong public speaker – or even somebody who had the potential to be one. If you had asked me what my career would be, a public speaker – certainly an evangelist – was the furthest thing on my mind.
I was sweating, shaking, and stuttering my way through my prompt cards, and I was unopposed in the race! I had nothing to lose, but barely made it through my speech!
When the terror was over, I pledged I would never again put myself in that position, and for 10-plus years, I never did.
But of course, God had other plans.
Today, I travel the world as an evangelist speaking to thousands of people at a time. And I’ve actually come to enjoy it.
As Christians, we know it is entirely within God’s nature to use the underqualified. Throughout the Bible, we see over and over again that God relishes the opportunity to put us in uncomfortable positions for his glory. He seeks out chances to use the unexpected. Think of Moses. David. Nehemiah. Gideon. Nicodemus.
God does things differently. “But God shows what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27).
Am I calling myself foolish and weak? Without Christ, for sure!
At first, I declined God’s call to become a preaching evangelist. Like Moses, I kept resisting God in disbelief. I didn’t believe he could use me in the way he insisted he would. It just didn’t seem like a good plan.
But as I studied the life of Moses, I was confronted with the part of the story we often choose to forget: God threatened to end Moses’ life. While there’s a lot to unpack in this passage, this part of the story had a significant effect on my story of obedience to my calling as an evangelist – and it should affect all of us in how we yield to the King. This part of the story reminded me of God’s authority over all – and the authority I needed to allow him to have in my life. I was reminded that he is in charge. Not me.
Like Moses, I knew this reality was the same for me and my circumstances. It took time, but I began to change my mindset. I started telling God, “You open doors. You shut them. I will be obedient.” And big surprise, he did just that.
We can walk confidently in obedience because God knows the desires of our heart (Ps. 37:4). He knows us better than we know ourselves (Rom. 8:27). We know that every good thing, every perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17). While Satan and sin come to steal and destroy, Jesus came so that we may have life – and life abundantly (John 10:10).
God is not a killjoy. He lavishes on us the greatest happiness when we choose to follow him.
My dad, international evangelist Luis Palau, modeled to me the joy that comes from being submitted to Jesus, not just in ministry, but in his entire life.
It’s the journey of being a follower of Jesus – to be obedient to Christ no matter what our calling – or how crazy it might seem to us in our personal desires or fears. I wish I had learned that reality earlier in life. It took me nearly 30 years to get there.
Dad has lived this truth. From his early days as a street evangelist in Argentina to present-day as he undergoes chemotherapy treatment for stage IV lung cancer, he takes each day as a unique opportunity to learn to trust God and listen to Him all over again – remembering God’s calling on his life. It’s a powerful daily reminder for me.
My wife Wendy and I are constantly amazed at all that God has done in our own lives. It’s sweeter than we ever hoped. We have truly seen how God’s plan for us has made us more fulfilled in every way. As we’ve done our best to walk in obedience despite the uncertainty and doubt of the outcome, we’re given more joy than our early personal ambitions ever would have provided.
You can walk in confidence to your calling knowing that what God has in store is better than what you have been planning.
When I’m standing in front of a crowd, I often think back to that day in high school – trembling in front of only a couple hundred of my peers, with nothing on the line. How did I get to preaching to thousands with the most important message – the good news? Only God could have provided what I needed to fulfill this calling. He brought me to this type of ministry the same way he’s calling you to yours. Perhaps you’re thinking like I once was – has God made a mistake? He hasn’t. He’ll provide all you need. Just follow.
The thing we should get used to saying, the phrase we should make the easiest thought in our mind: “To God be all the glory!”
Surrendering to God’s call is the best you can do with your life. That’s the excitement in obedience, finding out later what God has in mind.
Copyright Luis Palau Next Generation Alliance used with permission
For more than 25 years Andrew Palau has played a key role in the ministry of the Luis Palau Association. He has been instrumental in building the LPA model for citywide outreach as an evangelist, director, and key team leader. He has guided campaigns, led church relations efforts, trained thousands of believers in friendship evangelism, and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus Christ in person to hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world through evangelistic campaigns.He and his wife Wendy have three children, Christopher, Jonathan, and Sadie Anne. They live in Portland, Oregon.