1 Peter 4:10-12
I was ten years old the first time I started teaching. We will call her Mary. She was our live-in maid. She was only sixteen and had been raised on a farm, the daughter of a poor farmer who had no means to take his children to the nearest school. When I found out she could not read nor write, determination filled my mind – my friend would not remain illiterate! So I talked to my mom, who was a teacher. She gathered the materials we needed and Mary and I started on a journey together. Every day after school, I would finish homework and we would move to our “classroom” in Mary’s quarters. We would open up the books and I would proudly write on the chalkboard, slowly unfurling a brand-new world, filled with excitement and hope for Mary. I don’t remember the entire process and surely cannot tell you how we did it, but by the end of six months, Mary could read and write. Within my heart, much beyond pride and resolve, a new passion was born: I was going to be a teacher. And teach I did, for the next several years, starting at the age of fourteen, when the language school where I studied English as a second language invited me to become one of their teachers. That started a journey that went on into my young adult years and into the beginning of my days as a Christian. But surprisingly as it may seem, it took me sixteen years after becoming a Christian to realize that God wanted to use my talents as a teacher and communicator in His kingdom.
The Longing In Your Heart Is For a Reason
It started in 2006. I was pregnant with our youngest daughter when I came across Jesus’ words on John 10:10 – “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” These words pierced my soul as the truth about my spiritual life surfaced: I was not living the abundant life! Oh, I was going to church and would read my Bible… some. But there was a longing inside me that revealed that there was more to life than what I was experiencing. The fire that ignited my spirit when I first surrendered to Christ was not burning as it once did. It was then that I started to ask God to show His plan for my life and how to use my talents and spiritual gifts to further His kingdom. For the next three years, I dug deeper into the Word, learning more about God and His ways. However, my prayers for revelation continued to come back unanswered. Inside me, there was a longing and the certainty that something was missing; that there was a special purpose for my life that was yet to be uncovered.
If you are a Christian and you have a strong desire to be used by God, but don’t know where or what; if you have an uneasy feeling within your heart as if you were missing something important, I would suggest that you probably are. I firmly believe that if God is calling you to serve Him in some fashion, you will have no real peace and joy until you find your place of service. Some people have shared with me that they feel the Lord’s nudging them to serve Him and that they are not sure exactly what they need to do or where to start. If that is you, I know exactly how you feel and although I evidently cannot tell you whatGod is calling you to do, (for He will reveal that only to you), I can guarantee you this: the longing in your heart is for a reason and you should not dismiss it. From personal experience, I would like to suggest some of the things that I believe could be the reasons why sometimes we cannot figure out exactly what God is saying to us when it comes to ministry.
Patience… It May Not Be the Right Time Quite Yet
We are bound by elements which the Lord is not limited by, such as time and physical limitations. Often, when it comes to His plan for our lives, He must move pieces in the chess board and position them in the right places, so we can prosper in what we are called to do. This moving and changing takes time. As painful as it is to wait, you must remember that God is not just propping up His feet and maliciously making you wait. He is at work. Since your ministry will usually involve other people, resources and the right opportunities, you must remember that, while you wait, God is positioning the right people, resources and opportunities for you. He may be working in the hearts of those who will come alongside with you, preparing them for their role in the plan. He may be moving resources in order to provide the financial means you will need. He may be changing hearts (including yours) to be ready for whatever sacrifices that may need to be made. Remember that, while you wait, it is a perfect time to get to know Him better. It is a great time to get to know yourself better: your gifts, talents, as well as to make an honest assessment of your limitations. That brings me to the second reason, why I believe, it often takes us longer to hear from God.
Something May Just Have to Go!
“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24 (NASB)
About the same time that I started feeling the Lord’s nudging my heart into ministry, He started dealing with me concerning a habit. For a long time, I thought that the uncomfortable feeling that came along with this habit was unfounded; after all, I honestly did not believe it was a sin. Regardless, the uncomfortable feeling would not go away and the closer I walked with the Lord, the strongest the discomfort became. One day, while at church, we had a guest pastor at the pulpit and he was talking about the story of Esau. We all know that this strong hunter gave up his own inheritance for a cup of soup. Old news… Sad story. But then the pastor made us turn the Bible to Matthew 1, the genealogy of the Messiah. And there we read:
“The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.” Vs.1,2 (NASB)
That is when the pastor stopped, looked at the congregation and said: “Do you realize that this verse should read: Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Esau?” He proceeded to tell us that because of a cup of soup, Esau gave up the inheritance that would record his name for eternity in the lineage of the Savior of the world. The Savior! He then turned to the audience and said: “What is your cup of soup?”. At that moment, the blindfold fell off my eyes and the truth became clear – It was not about right or wrong, sin or not sin. God was saying to me: “Will you lay it down?” It was about obedience. Was I going to justify or obey, even though I did not understand? I chose to obey. Less than two weeks later, God revealed to me that I was to teach and write. Soaring with Him Ministries was born. Blind obedience was the last step He expected of me before revealing His plan for my life and ministry.
There may just be a habit (or sin) in your heart that is preventing the spirit from freely working in your life. If you are reading this example and something keeps popping up in your mind, please do not dismiss it. There is a reason for the discomfort. God loves you and wants to use you, but something may just have to go. It may be a habit, like gossiping or judging. It may be that someone in your life has hurt you and you need to forgive them. Whatever it is, God is making you uncomfortable for a reason. He cannot use a dirty vessel or an unwilling spirit! His work requires sacrifice of things we love and it certainly requires a heart that is willing to be molded and shaped into the likeness of His Son. As hard as it sometimes is to change or give up things which are dear to us, the blessing and joy that are only found when you are in the center of God’s will far exceed any pleasures in life.
You Must Take the First Step
It may just be that God has already told you to do something, take a small step; the first part of His plan for your life. It may have happened when your church announced that the children’s ministry needed workers, and you felt compelled to sign up, but never did. It could be that you felt compelled to participate in an informational meeting about short term missions in your church, but dismissed it, because you felt inadequate. It may be that your heart fills with joy when your church’s choir or praise team sings, but you have decided you cannot add another commitment to your schedule. Whatever is nudging your heart, to dismiss it is to tell the Lord you are not willing to sacrifice or, by being afraid, you deny the unlimited power of God, which can enable you to do anything He calls you to do.
If God calls you, He will reveal it to you. If He reveals it to you, He will show you if anything in your life needs change. If He shows it to you, He will give you the strength and courage to obey. When you are ready, He will guide you step by step and will enable you. However, He needs you to say yes and take the first step of obedience. Don’t waste another day. Take a step of faith.
I am not telling you that it will be easy. When you are called into ministry, rest assured that you will be tested and tried. You will go through fires, valleys and hardships. But I can guarantee you this much: when you are doing God’s work, there is a joy and peace that you will find nowhere else, regardless of your circumstances. I can speak with the experience of someone who has known professional achievement in the past. However, I can honestly say that never in my life have I found more fulfillment than since I took a step of faith and said yes to the ministry God has called me to do. There is something about doing God’s work in this fallen world that fills a gap in your heart that nothing else will. Moreover, when the last chapter of your life is over, it will not matter what title you held, what you drove, where you lived or how large your portfolio was. We all know you will not take any of that with you. But what you did for Christ – that will forever remain and continue to impact the world after you are gone.
Think about it: If He used a tiny stone in David’s sling to bring down the giant; if He used Moses’ willing hands to open up the waters of the red sea, there is no question that He can use you… But the question is, are you ready and willing? My prayer is that you will be sensitive to His voice, quick to obey and to follow His directions. The ultimate prize, my friend, is incommensurable: to know that your life is being used to change someone’s destiny… or to help a brother or sister in need of love and direction on this side of eternity; those are “the treasures in heaven… where neither moth nor rust destroys, and thieves do not break in or steal.” Matthew 6:20
I pray our portfolios will be filled with those treasures. Will you say “YES”?