MissionsFest is a huge annual conference at Canada Place, with dozens of plenary speakers and seminars, and hundreds of exhibitor booths. It's free admission (for most things), so there are thousands of people; most of the seminars are full way before they start. I ran into a ton of TWU people, several VCAC people, and a few friends from other area churches. There were so many exhibitor booths, just walking once through took me a couple hours! It was nice gettting an overview of the local, national, and international ministries represented. I realized that, although there are a few international ministries, the networks in Canada are to a large extent still separate from the U.S. ones that I'm familiar with.
I still don't like large crowds, so I spent quite a bit of time outside on the Canada Place pier, bundled up in the chill air, enjoying the views of the water, the mountains behind North Vancouver, and the crystal blue sky. The word "calling" comes up everywhere in a conference like this, and I think that's really the purpose of MissionsFest -- to inspire, encourage, and equip people in the calling God has for each one of us. While wandering through the exhibitor booths, a friend asked me, "Have you found what you're looking for yet?" I think she was just referring to the booths, but upon reflection, it seems the question is apropos to the larger issue of calling -- have you found your calling, the direction in which God is leading you? It's a question that pretty much everybody faces, particularly in the young-adult years.
For me personally, though, the question was answered long ago: I know without a doubt that the calling God has had on my life, from before I was born, is after the spirit of John the Baptist, after whom I was named. I have been reluctant to follow, because it could be a rather lonely path. Those who don't know me well will immediately scoff and question and try to fit me into a more "acceptable" ministry. But as I sat on a park bench on this pier and reread Luke chapters 1-3, the mission of John the Baptist resonated so powerfully it brought me to tears:
And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
That's exactly what I desire to do more than anything else: to prepare the way for Jesus, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the hearts of the children back to the fathers (Malachi 4:6, the last verse of the Old Testament).
But the timing and the preparation are in God's hands, and I think patience is what He's teaching me now. I've been so impatient to become a part of this church, but I'm starting to realize that I might never become fully accepted/trusted here, and perhaps I just need to accept that I might always remain an outsider, an iconoclast, a voice in the wilderness. I wonder what John the Baptist did during all those years in the wilderness before the word of the Lord came to him. But then I remember that when his ministry did start, it made a powerful impact for a few short years, like Jesus' own earthly ministry -- all in God's timing. It seems I've forgotten already that simple one-word lesson from Psalm 27:14, that God reminded me of less than a year ago: *WAIT*.
Of course, John the Baptist never got married (as far as we know), and that would really suck. Then there's the whole thing with getting beheaded in his early thirties; yeah, here's hoping that part doesn't apply, either!