I was just 8 years old, idealistic and full of hope when God called me to use my words, through writing and speaking, to impact the world. It was my “burning bush” moment—without the actual burning bush.
What I didn’t know was God’s calling on my life would send me on a challenging yet invigorating journey. From the moment I said yes to God, life suddenly got hard. This was shocking. If I was following God’s plan and the leading of the Holy Spirit shouldn’t pursuing my God-inspired dreams have been easy?
Our calling was never meant to be easy. It sounds glamorous when we talk about our dreams and all the awe-inspiring things we believe God is birthing out of us: planting a new church, starting a worship team, beginning a ministry or going on a mission trip. Yet, when we find ourselves in the middle of the desert or valley in pursuit of that calling, we can begin to question whether our dreams were actually God-inspired. Even worse, we doubt our ability to keep moving forward to see the calling through to completion.
Challenging callings have biblical precedent. Many of the great men and women who hold the pillars of the Christian faith knew what it was to respond to God’s difficult callings. Abraham was instructed to go to a land he wouldn’t know until God told him all while waiting more than 20 years for God to fulfill the promise of a son. Noah was told to build an ark, gather up two of every animal and save the last of humanity before a flood would destroy the earth (one has to wonder how Noah managed to track down every existing animal without modern technology). A young queen Esther risked her very own life and the genocide of her people when boldly confronting King Xerxes.
When we do great things in the name of God, we can be sure that while His ways will always be the best, they definitely won’t be the easiest.
So, what does this mean for us today? What are we to learn from Abraham, Noah, Esther and the many of other men and women who have done remarkable things to advance God’s Kingdom?
I believe there are three biblical principles that will help us continue to move forward when we hit valley points while responding to God’s calling.
Here’s what you have to remember:
You are not alone
It’s not surprising that God repeatedly told Joshua He was with him just before instructing Joshua to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. That’s because being called by God can feel like a moment of isolation. When we pursue God’s plan, well-meaning people will not always understand our specific calling, and that may cause some people (even friends) to turn away. God’s voice led Abraham outside the comfort zone of a land he knew with familiarity. Not even Abraham’s wife, Sarah, understood the weight of God’s promise over their lives.
It’s true that God’s calling can set us apart, whether for a moment or an extended season, but He never intended for us to do it alone. Just as God promised Joshua to never leave him nor forsake him, so it is with us. We have been given the promise of the Holy Spirit, who is not only with us, but also within us. God’s Spirit leads, comforts, directs, instructs and testifies that we are inheritors of the Kingdom.
If there are moments on your journey that you feel isolated while fulfilling God’s calling, remember you have the power of the Holy Spirit in you and with you. You are not alone.
Difficult doesn’t mean destitute
One of the many names for God found in the Old Testament is Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord will provide. An example of God’s provision can be found in the story of the prophet Elijah at Zarepheth (1 Kings 17). The prophecy of a drought over the land did not keep God from ensuring Elijah housing and sustenance before fulfilling His purposes through the young prophet.
The same is true for you and me. Yes, our callings maybe challenging and they may require more of our time and resources than we expected. But, we can trust in God’s character. God is faithful to extend provision to His children and sometimes God’s provision comes in an unlikely form, as was the case when the poor widow fed Elijah.
If you’re in a place of pursuing God’s plan for your life and a lack of resources is what’s making your calling difficult, remember that difficult doesn’t mean destitute. God has already set provision in place for you to accomplish everything He’s called you to do.
It’s at the Cross
The Apostle Paul knew what it was to respond to the challenge of God’s calling, having been beaten and imprisoned while advancing the Gospel. And yet, despite death threats and imprisonment, Paul continued moving forward fulfilling God’s plan. It’s possible Paul knew this one secret; his calling was not in the work of his ministry. It was in the work already done on the Cross, “…But I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:13).
It can be easy to get singularly focused on our work and completely forget the calling of callings has already been answered. Jesus died on the Cross for the sake of humanity. His work at Calvary was to carry the weight of our burdens.
If you find yourself reluctant to continue to move forward with God’s calling on your life, remember to look to Jesus.
While pursuing God’s purposes and fulfilling His plans won’t always be easy, we can be encouraged that our true calling has always been and will always be at the Cross.