During my travels over the past few months serving in short term missions I have learned a lot. Mostly that mission work is quite different than I expected. I thought it would be all give and no take, all teaching and no learning. But how wrong I was in thinking such nonsense. Each trip has left a lasting impression upon me in some way or another. My most recent trip to Africa caused me to do much reflecting upon my past and the many unsuspected events that have proved to be the Lords well orchestrated plan for my life. So let me put in a nutshell the past few years of my life as a born again, redeemed, delivered, justified, and adopted son of the Most High.
Christ saved me right before my 19th birthday. I don’t remember the exact date or time or place but the Spirit did a radical transforming work within me sometime shortly before then, opening my eyes to the darkness of my sinful heart and desperate need for Christ. Of course many things changed at that point including God opening my eyes to the wealth of the Scriptures and giving me an undying passion to dig for the treasures that lie therein. They have played a monumental role in discerning the Lord’s will for my life and daily opening my eyes to the immeasurable riches of His grace and mercy.
So as I continued to seek the Lord through both some confusing times and some very clear times I began to feel Him leading me to something very unanticipated. Something that I never imagined I would be doing in a million years. Something I neither desired nor felt skilled enough to do. Yes, that’s right, something totally unfamiliar and totally unappealing to me. The Lord was calling me to preach. And I want to make extra clear here the fact that it was never some secret ambition I had or some deep longing within me. Three years before then all I cared about was who was going to buy me beer each weekend and what girls were going to be at which party.
So what played out as many “Lord, are you serious?”s (I know that’s horrible grammar but I asked that question probably a million times) and many nights struggling and wrestling with the Lord, led to the calling that I now find myself in the process of living out. I think I tried every excuse and pleaded with the Lord in every way to please show me something else I could do for His glory, anything but preaching. But one of the most memorable moments in the midst of all my opposition and fretfulness was one of the many nights I spent in my room praying and pouring myself over the Scriptures searching for clarity. I remember dwelling upon my inability to feel confident when speaking to any amount of people and thinking of my very poor communication skills as I was reading through Moses’ calling in (Exodus 4:10-12) when I felt the Word pierce through me in a way that I now long for each time I open His Word. Here is Moses’ dilemma “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue. Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” I remember at that moment feeling my every excuse being destroyed and hanging on to those words that to this day I lean on as I seek to live out this calling He has placed upon my life. “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” I must make clear that preaching for me is not some miserable task. I can now hardly find a greater joy than sharing and rejoicing in the wonderful truths of God’s Word and marveling at the wonders of the gospel. But I continue to rely upon such a truth.
So after many prayers and some talks with the leaders and pastor at my church and then a few preaching opportunities here and there I thought I had it all figured out. But I then had an opportunity come up at a Tuesday night worship service I was attending. Of course it was another thing very foreign to me, but I felt the Lord really leading me to take advantage of the opportunity and go on my first mission trip to Nicaragua. At the time I had a very well paying job, a nice car and a fairly decent apartment. I signed up for the trip without taking into account such things and found myself having to make some tough decisions. Some decisions that I was uncertain about but knew that the Lord alone was placing upon my heart. So, I sold my car, gave my two weeks notice right before leaving for Nicaragua, and temporarily moved back home with my parents. I wasn’t sure how it all was going to work out but I had to trust the Lord.
Obviously it turned out okay. I’m still breathing, I have a roof over my head, I ate three meals today, I am still alive and not to mention typing this on my MacBook Pro. But I can now say I have seen the Lord’s provision in ways I had never known, of course probably most due to the fact that I never had to depend on Him in such ways, or at least thought I didn’t. But honestly He is faithful even when we are faithless and has blessed me beyond belief as I have given up what little I had to remain obedient to His continued calling upon my life. Of course many crazy acts of provision have happened throughout the past year as I have traveled and preached in different places that I would love to share, but I feel as if this blog is already growing much longer than I intended so I will get to the point.
I must clarify my point here is not to highlight on my “sacrifice” but to make some slight appeal to it for the sake of magnifying another greater truth. In Paul’s writing to the church of Philippi he sums up this truth that I have found in my own life as I have spent time amongst some of the most beautiful and loving people I have ever met over my travels the past month.
Paul, writing from prison, says a bunch of really crazy things because he is Paul and he does that. But the thing most noteworthy to me here is Paul’s celebration of his loss and suffering for the sake of knowing Christ and making Him known. I know that Paul stands far above me in being able to claim what he does. I sold my car and quit my job, he is in jail and constantly facing suffering for the sake of the gospel. I am not ignorant of the fact that my “sacrifices” are greatly belittled by almost every aspect of Paul’s life. But I in no means aim to celebrate my sacrifice here and neither does Paul. He writes:
(Philippians 1:12-13) “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ.” Paul here does not boast of his sacrifice or complain of his circumstances but points to the great purpose which he knows all of this has happened for, for Christ. What has happened to him has served to advance the gospel, his imprisonment is for Christ. There is a far greater purpose to speak of in selling my car (not to mention that a couple at my church has given me an old truck in its place that is paid for and runs just fine) and quitting my job than my own good works or any form of self exaltation for that matter. I pray and hope that I too can remain true to my calling and say alongside Paul, “what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, that my abandonment of such is for Christ and Christ alone.
The burning desire within me as I continue to seek God and follow wherever He leads me is to speak of what Paul goes on to write a few verses later. I honestly get so discouraged by those who simply praise me for my recent life changes and say things such as “you have given up so much”. They remain blatantly ignorant of the great truth that Paul communicates in the following. And again I pray that my service and continued obedience to Christ glorifies and illuminates these truths leaving none to remain ignorant of the unsurpassing worth of knowing Christ. For if it shall lead to anything else I shall consider it worthless. I write this to dismiss any false notion that I have done all these things because I give a rip what anybody thinks about Trent Weatherford.
(Philippians 1:21) “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Paul speaks of this great gain. A gain which is seen even if he should face death. I too must speak of the gain I have experienced. For in light of such I have made no sacrifice. Holding any car steering wheel could never compare to holding an orphan with aids who never knew her mother or father. No paycheck could compare to seeing someone weep as they come to know the grace of God and the hope of the gospel. So I pray that it be made know that I have made no sacrifice. For honestly there is no sacrifice if Christ be gained.