by sandi youngren
missionary to ecuador
I would like to tell you a story of a young girl who heard a distinct call of God at a very young age. Although ignorant of what it would mean, she was eager to answer, and excited to see how God would use her. She was trusting of His sovereign plan, and much like Isaiah in the Old Testament, she responded with, “Here am I Lord, send ME!”
But that particular story is someone else’s to tell. My story does not even remotely resemble Isaiah’s. My story resembles the biblical personages that are reluctant to trust God and His perfectly executed plans. I’m in line with those that believe their immense logic will somehow thwart the sovereign plan of God as He sees His momentary folly, and sets His eyes on someone else. My story resembles that of Moses, Gideon, Jonah, and a whole list of others found in our Bible. Those daring to wrestle with Almighty GOD. Boldly arguing with the Creator of the Universe, the One who magnificently laid out the events of the gospel from Garden, to Golgotha, to Game Over.
Yep, that’s me. Not just once, but many times over.
It is still a provocative testimony, although it might be more difficult to listen to. My story doesn’t let us continue on our chosen path of life with a satisfying sigh, knowing that if God wants something of you, He will ask politely and you can contemplate the answer… and if you don’t feel the positive response “send ME!” then it must be for someone else, and NOT for you.
I was a shy and unnoticed young person. Most people could not remember my name in the eight-person line up of my siblings. I liked it that way. I was contentedly lost in my own fantasy world of elves and make-believe, spending long hours delightfully hidden in hollowed out tree stumps or thickets of long grass… alone. God must have chuckled creating this extreme introvert and placing her in a family of ten loud Italians. Don’t get me wrong, I am plenty capable of being loud and even obnoxious when my passionate opinions spill out, but I was and always will be the most content when quietly enjoying life in near solitude.
My teen years were spent like most people’s: trying to fit in, but never accomplishing it. I was meandering down that high school path, trying mostly to stay out of the way. It was the 70’s, on the tail end of the hippie movement, which also produced the “Jesus People” movement. I was radically and wonderfully saved from a life of quiet rebellion when I was 15, in an amazing wave of God’s grace in our high school. I met my Swedish Stud Muffin at 16 and was married by 18. I know, I know, “GASP!” (No, I was not pregnant.) He had been away in the Air Force and we were just going to DIE if we didn’t get married on his first leave. I then moved from the Emerald City (where all rainbows and yellow brick roads lead to: Seattle, Washington) to the most desolate and forlorn place I had ever seen in my life (where I am quite sure all Armageddon and Life On Mars movies lead to: Clovis, New Mexico). But I was with my best friend and now life partner, so I forged ahead. Even though the weather (sunny and hot every day), the people (who knew that Southerners really DO talk with “Green Acres” accents?), and the church (not only very prejudiced, but very legalistic…we’re not in “Jesus People” mode anymore) were completely foreign to me, I enjoyed being a homemaker and living a life that fed my insecurities and introverted nature by letting me go unnoticed, and giving me my first breath of free-spirited independence. Oh, how I devoured that air. “Free-Spirited Independence” fit me like a perfectly worn and cozy sweater I never knew existed, but once discovered, was a coming home party that I never wanted to take off.
That lasted for about one, very short and glorious year.
One day we came home from church and Stud Muffin was unusually quiet and somber. I probed and got an answer that really meant nothing to me at the time.
“I never told you this, but as a child, I just knew I was called ‘Into Ministry.’ As a teenager, I rebelled and walked away from it, and hadn’t thought about ‘The Call’ until now. I just know that I am supposed to be ‘In Ministry,’ and I can’t deny it.”
Oh, what a sweet and adoringly submissive wife I was at that moment. I spoke only words of support and encouragement and “how can I help?” Looking back at my very young and naive self, I can now laugh (yet for many years I pitied, defended, and cried for her). That innocent and oblivious young girl had no idea what her adored husband was talking about. I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic School. The only vocational “Ministry” people I knew about were Priests and Nuns. They went about their “calling” alone, and it was a personal decision followed by themselves. There were no spouses involved. So, what did this deep revelation have to do with me? Oh, you poor, little, uninformed innocent.
All too soon I was to find out what it meant for ME. I was about to have that warm and cozy sweater ripped off like the bandage that went over my stitches when I was hit on the head with a baseball bat as a child (there was much blood involved, and a patient doctor who held my hand and coached me through it). This confession of my beloved’s was about to set up an ongoing baseball bat hit to the head in my REAL LIFE (where there was also much blood involved, and a Patient Doctor who held my hand and coached me through it).
I was embarking on a journey that would teach me to say “Yes” out of a deep trust in God. But the journey was going to be a very long and very arduous one.
to be continued…
Sandi Youngren is CoFounder of Compassion Connection, a missions organization based in Ecuador. She travels and speaks at women’s conferences or gatherings and owns a cottage industry that supports help to women escaping sex trafficking. She also encourages women through her YouTube channel “The Truth Booth.” She says that her most treasured time is spent with her kids and grandkids, and she hopes for more of that in the future.
You can follow Sandi here: YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/TheTruthBooth IG: sandiyoungren also trth_booth