Eight years ago I was joyfully gliding down a hill in Massachusetts. I’d wrapped up another long day at my carrel in the basement of my seminary’s library and I was talking to God about what I would do after finishing seminary the following May. Then I heard Him say, “another Master’s degree.” I politely suggested God think of other options. He seemed determined. I asked, “In what?” He said, “Counseling.” I laughed. There beneath a lampost’s rays on light snow, I laughed out loud. I listed a couple other subjects. God gave His list, which wasn’t a list at all, only “Counseling.” “Okay,” I responded, “I’m not going to tell anyone about that, confirm it while I am in Turkey this summer.” True to Who He is, He did. I spent seven weeks in Turkey that summer, with about a dozen people, only two of whom I knew previously.
Day after day, different people would come up to me and ask me questions about psychology or an interpersonal dilemma. When there were disagreements on the team, I found myself tugged into them with the simple solicitation, “Could you help us?” In these interactions I also heard, “Oh, ask Dawn about that, she’s studying counseling” or “Talk to Dawn, she does mediation.” I found myself squinting back, “I’m not studying counseling. Why did you think that?” The response was classically, “Oh, I don’t know why I thought that. I guess because your obviously good at it.” I was a bit annoyed at God for this persistent understanding, cloaked as misunderstanding. By the end of the trip I’d succumbed: I told God I’d do a Master’s degree in Counseling, even though I didn’t know why I was doing it. In May of 2005 I graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with a Master’s in Religion and a Master’s in Counseling.
These days I know my innate design, topped with acquired skills, is, in part, to counsel leaders. Now it makes sense why, even in university, I found myself walking into heated arguments and then quickly recruited to mediate conversations. I was learning how to be a peacemaker. I was learning the power of reconciliation, the “repairing of the breach” Isaiah writes about in chapter 58:12. As I look forward in time to my journey back to the Middle East, and specifically to Iraq, I am really thankful God told me to get that degree. He’s so smart.
Well, fittingly, I was given a postcard this week of one of the world’s first peace treaties. A friend of mine recently returned from Iraq, Turkey, and Israel. While in Turkey she visited the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Ironically, I also visited the museum during my summer in Turkey in 2003. She brought back a postcard for me. The image is of the Kadesh Treaty from BC 1269. She said, “This is for you because you are a peacemaker.”
I think my eyes must have widened. Sometimes the thought of being a peacemaker in the Middle East is so immense, it’s like someone asking you to walk their dogs and then showing up at your house with 17 rottweilers. It’s a bit more than one might think feasible. It sometimes feels daunting, but the truth is, in all of this, I know quite clearly the vision God has put inside me; and in the words of Joan of Arc, “I am not afraid… I was born to do this.”
My favorite peacemaker, Jesus, once said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5)
Yes. I believe there’s a new unit of God’s dream team: radical peacemakers who will confidently go into any place, knowing the answers to the unrest, war, hatred, and fear are inside them. As Daniel served Nebuchadnezzar with some of the results being peace, these people will serve nations in such a HOPEFUL manner, peace will be the natural end. These leaders will be called sons and daughters of God because they illuminate the same restorative heart He has.
It will be beautiful, as nations light up with love – knowing who they are and who He designed them to be.
They will come into contact with the One who is Peace, the universe’s ultimate peace treaty.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility”
I’m not only sharing this story to speak of peace, though I love it. I’m sharing this story to draw attention to the profound reality that God is preparing YOU for a specific purpose – maybe you are already in it, but it is growing; maybe you have no idea what it is, but your heart is magnetized to certain topics; and maybe you know what it is, but it seems far away. Take heart. You have a niche in the universe no one else can fill. God has a plan and a purpose for your life; and it’s infinitely more wonderful than anything you’ve imagined. It’s fun. It’s life-giving. It’s powerful.
Repeat after me, and the book “Dream Culture”:
God is good ALL the time. I have a purpose. Nothing is impossible. I am responsible for me. Greatness comes through serving.
(Dream Culture, p72)
Thanks for being YOU.