Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Choosing A Mission

There's a common phrase you hear on every airline flight during the safety demonstration. I remember flying before they added the second half of this phrase. It's the phrase about the emergency exits where they say, "Please take a moment to locate the nearest emergency exit, keeping in mind it may be behind you."  The first time I flew and heard them tack that onto the end, I thought to myself, "Well that's completely obvious. Why do they feel the need to point that out?" 

I remember when I was about 15 or 16, I came home and announced I wanted to be a "Big Sister" at the local YMCA after school. I don't remember where I got the idea, but somehow, somewhere, I had learned about it and I just knew I wanted to be involved. The thought of befriending and ministering to and being looked up to by an underprivileged child appealed to me. I was so excited to share what I desired to do with my mom.

In discussing this volunteer opportunity with her, however, I was completely taken by surprise at her resistance and apparent disapproval. I didn't get it. This was a great opportunity that I felt led to participate in. I could have been out galavanting around town after school and getting into trouble. But instead I was trying to be part of something good and positive. How could she be so blind to my fantastic heart?

Then she said something I will remember forever. 

"You're already a big sister. Why don't you try doing something with your own little sister right here at home?"

Those words hit me in the stomach. It felt like I had just swallowed a grapefruit. I had no response. 

It was so true. My sister was almost nine years younger than me and always wanted to be around me. I already had someone who needed me as a friend. I already had someone close I could minister to. And I definitely already had someone who looked up to me as if I were the next Princess of Wales.

Perhaps it was my age or the opportunity to do something on my own without the watchful eye of my parents. Perhaps I just didn't know how to filter through those years of discovering what it meant to be outwardly focused. Or perhaps it was the fact that I had spent year after year taking care of my little sister like a parent while my mom worked nights and weekends that I had completely lost the desire to spend quality time with her. 

Regardless of my reasoning, my mom had a very good point. And being fifteen, I despised the fact that she was right. Nonetheless, I dropped the idea and never thought about it again.

Instead, I spent more time with my little sister.  Being in high school and nine years her senior, I'm sure it lasted only a short time. I'm sure my life got busy with school activities and homework and friends. But the lesson had been learned. You don't need to travel far to be on a mission. Sometimes the mission you could (or should) be focusing on is right where you are; perhaps even right under your nose. And while your focus on, or choice of, your current mission will inevitably change as you grow and change, it's important to seek out the opportunities God has placed before you, remembering you may just find them in the closest, most obvious of places.

Go Choose A Mission, and keep in mind it may be behind you.