“You need to do what you’re doing, for free.”
What was that about? I pensively glanced to my friend as she put the car in park. Judging by her changeless expression I decided that what I had heard must’ve come from inside my head so I didn’t mention it. We had just pulled up to the church building and the words ran through my mind as we made our way into the building and to some open seats. The worship had already started and the music began to drown out the confusing thought that had felt more like an issue than it did a suggestion. As the next song began, I had already moved on. A few chords rang out to transition and the verse began. I cheered on the lyrics. I’m caught in your grace. I was lost in the melody of the song when my focus was interrupted. The words of the chorus snapped me back to my previous thoughts as if someone on the row behind me had tapped me on the shoulder right when I was most consumed with my own worship. My eyes came open and I looked around. No one around me seemed to be bothered. Once again I had heard the words, “Do what you do for, for free.” Well that’s interesting and slightly aggravating. I read the words to the chorus that were being projected on the screen to double check that I hadn’t just misinterpreted the lyrics of the song. That would be a funny worship song. I imagined everyone around me stretching out their arms and singing, “DooOOoo what you doooo, but doooo it for FREEEE.” Catchy. There was no sign my distracting thought on the screen but as the song continued I heard wordless confirmations of this idea that had seemed to randomly occur in the car. The chorus spoke things to me that were not being projected. I was a little dismayed that this song happened to be a song that the worship team chose to repeat the chorus over, and over and over before it’s conclusion but finally the song ended and the confusing commands stopped. We sat down. The preacher got up to begin his sermon, “Today, we’re going to begin a series called “Hearing God for dummies.” This Sunday we’re going to focus on the way that God can use urgings and seemingly random thoughts that he has put on our hearts, to speak to us.” OH, good.
“… OK. I’m listening.”
I dabble at a good many things. I’ve got my hands in multiple jars when it comes to occupation. They all generally fall under the umbrella of the arts but they’re varied, and sometimes they’re cohesive to one another and sometimes they aren’t. I felt the call at the beginning of the summer (2010) to give my life’s work to someone free of charge… but what did that mean? At the time of the charge I had been meditating on ways to turn my business into one that merged all of the things that I do into a single entity that uses all of the visual medias to benefit non profits and similar organizations, like the Zambia Medical Mission that I had grown up so deeply connected to. So when I felt the pull to start giving it all away my thoughts naturally went to this idea- but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I had considered offering my services for free but under the stipulation that I didn’t have the money to send myself at first, and eventually allotting for myself a salary through the fundraising of each project. Did doing my work for free mean that I never got to the point of a salary, that I would always just offer my services in return for transport? Or did it mean that I didn’t even ask them to get me there? I didn’t know how either one of those things would play out logistically. I had heard the call, but failed to catch the details. My heart was leading me in the direction of the Zambia Medical Mission. It made sense. I felt like I needed to film a documentary and give back to Zambia, who had given so much to me but only the Lord knows why I thought I needed to film a documentary. I didn’t know how to make a documentary, but that is what I felt. Over the next month I began to see that for the first time in fifteen years, it didn’t look like I was going to make it to Zambia. In my mind I felt doubly cursed that I was being plagued by a call I could not shake and of all years, this was the year that going to Zambia was in question. What seemed to be the easy & obvious answer, was not.
Two weeks to film
If I would’ve had all summer to film, it would have looked a lot more like I had something to do with the whole thing. With very little time, it was made apparent that I was just a marionette in the hands of a skilled designer. Almost exactly a year from the beginning of that story, I’m seeing the ways that I was being refined by that process to trust, to listen, to wait… and now to go.
Time to go
What makes me think that God is now giving me a similar calling to do something in Zambia? Well… mainly because it seems absolutely ridiculous to me. Which, according to my personal experience, means that I must be on the right track. I am thinking of writing a single chapter book entitled-
“How to Know if God is Calling You to Something- Based on My Personal Experience”
Ask Yourself these questions.
- Is it easy? No.
- Does it seem completely nonsensical? Yes.
- Do you want to do it? Not particularly.
- Will it be difficult? Absolutely.
- Is the completion of this task so far fetched and unlikely that there is no possible way you could complete it on your own? Yes.
- Will it give him glory? Yes.
Then God is calling you to do it.
Ok, I’m just being cheeky but joking aside, those are the questions (and my answers) that I ask myself about this project because that is how I determine what to make of it. Why? Because a year ago, I heard a quiet voice say, “Give your life to me.” and I said “Ok, but that’s hard.” Then I heard a gentle voice say, “Now trust me with it.” and I said, “Ok, but this is impossible, nonsensical and way out of my reach.” and to that, I heard a simple, “Not for me.”
Everything about deciding to go to back to Zambia only three months before the fact seems nonsensical to me. I knew months and months ago what I was being called to do but life hasn’t exactly been predictable and I haven’t exactly been willing to consider it. Sitting in a hospital room with my mother on New Year’s eve I knew the decision that I was facing but at that moment I decided that nothing about leaving the country to go do something much bigger than me, that I didn’t even know how to do made any sense. Leaving the possibility open meant that I would wrestle with my decision to go until I was on the plane and it was too late to turn around. Too much has been uncertain and so the easiest thing to do was to just say no and close the door. My dad and I both came to the same conclusion. The thought of leaving was just too hard and too far fetched and just it seemed unnecessary. However, midway through March that door opened again and it turns out that my father had been struggling with a call to go as well. His call to Zambia looked very different than my call, but he was being called to face a decision we had both already made once and he asked me to also reconsider my answer. After a couple more weeks of serious struggle and prayer I decided that I would go to Zambia with my father and I would do this film. Last year I said yes to something I didn’t understand, but when it was all said and done I had experienced the faithfulness of the Lord because I took one measly step towards trusting him. Now, knowing what I know and being where I am I can see with even more clarity the way I was being refined. I didn’t have to raise a lot of money to do that film, but I have to raise a lot of money to do this one. Responding to that call meant letting go of my idea of timing, and struggling with what my life looked like to others while I sat around and planned, letting go of control and learning to listen. Responding to this call means that I take all of those things that were used to teach me to trust and to remember them now while I try to make it happen financially, while I try to grasp the concept, while I plan to leave my mother behind right in the midst of her hardest season.
Sharing with you is hard because once it’s all out on the table you know the plan and I’ve just heaped an extra measure of pressure on myself. I would much prefer to keep it all a secret and then SURPRISE! Here’s a film you didn’t expect! I have exceeded your expectations. That’s not how it works I don’t suppose. To find out about my need and how to help click here or go to the Zambia Project page at the top of the blog.
To watch the full length film “Networks” for Hope Church of Christ please click HERE.