Finding God’s Will in Heart, Home, and Brussels

Posted on 07/12/12 in Uncategorized, No Comments

My son, Nathan Tillman, is a world traveler. Throughout high school, his love of world history/literature, languages, and international friends laid the foundation for his job as an English as Second Language teacher. We studied world history/literature through our co-op, real books, and media. Here’s his advice for homeschoolers:

What is it that excites you? What do you find yourself wishing you had more time to do? What are you good at?

As you think about the rest of high school, college and beyond (for yourself, or for your child),

Nathan (right) with brothers, Micah and Seth

I encourage you to think about those three questions. As Americans, as Christians, as homeschoolers, figuring out what to do with our lives can be a challenge. While I do not believe that God has only one career plan for you set in stone, I do believe he has lovingly created you with a mix of gifts and passions that are uniquely yours. These gifts and passions should lead – with many false starts and wrong turns – to a job and life that are exciting and rewarding to you and that touch a part of the world with some unique aspect of Christ’s love.

For me, it’s a passion for other languages and cultures. I have loved England, I think, as long as I have been sentient. As a boy, I used to dream of being a missionary to the Amazon. In high school, I was completely obsessed by all things Russian. In college, I fell in love with World History as a subject – Armenia, India, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, South America. My junior year of college brought a pair of experiences that changed my life forever – first forming deep friendships with a diverse group of internationals at a summer job, and then studying abroad in England for a semester. My memories of that summer in 2003 – making my Russian friends teach me phrases, which I would scribble down on napkins, or visiting Manhattan for the first time with a group of Poles – still make me smile; and England! – I was in love with everything about it.  Both experiences awoke in me a profound sympathy for and interest in internationals. What a thing to leave your home and live in another country! What a thing to speak a second language! I have been enthralled ever since, and this passion has been nudging me – with the false starts and wrong turns I mentioned earlier – along a path that I find as deeply meaningful and energizing today as I did ten or fifteen years ago.

After Brussels, he visited friends in Germany

When you know what things God has made you to love and to excel in, follow them fearlessly – you never know where he will take you, but it is sure to be amazing. A very brief example: this past December, I was itching to get abroad again, so I bought a ticket to Europe and spent almost two weeks of my Christmas holiday in Belgium and Germany. On my first Sunday over there, I was in Brussels, Belgium. For church I chose a small, Protestant service and arrived after a long walk along Brussels’ winding streets. The church felt strangely American – think a southern Baptist or Charismatic building – though it was French-speaking. A visiting pastor (of Central African Republican heritage) happened to be giving the message, and I listened in awe as it proved to be the exact message I needed to hear at that point in my life. After the service, in my broken French, I complimented the pastor, and we got into a conversation that ended with him and his wife inviting me to lunch. After lunch, they helped me shop for a few items I required, and then we parted. Thus, in the matter of a morning and afternoon, the passions God has given me opened the door to new friendships with French-speaking Christians in Belgium, and my knowledge of the world and God’s kingdom grew by a little more. Now, following these same interests in other languages and cultures, I am about to embark

With brother-in-law, Justin

on a new adventure teaching ESL abroad. I know it will be hard, but I look forward to the doors that God will open for me.

My path has been twisted and confusing at times. Yours will be, too, I’m afraid. But keep God close to you, and he will keep you close to him. Explore the interests and talents he has given you, and you will find a life in which the rewards and joys far outweigh the sorrows.

What paths are you exploring?

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