God Prepares the Heart to Answer His Call
By: Kathy pearson, 1cbn.com
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
I gave a speech at a church in Indianapolis where they requested one of my speeches titled, “You Want Me to Do What?! God’s Call and Your Response.”
I had not given that speech in several years, so it brought back many memories. It’s my story of when God called me 11 years ago to leave a teaching job I loved, to go into full-time Christian writing, speaking, and teaching.
When I first felt the call, I was in a total panic. I called my pastor in tears and said, “I think God wants me to leave my job! I don’t want to do that! I love my job!”
She calmed me with these words: “If you have no desire to leave your job right now, then I don’t think God is calling you to do that YET.”
I must be pretty slow on the uptake because that little word tacked on at the end of her sentence, YET, didn’t register. The dictionary definition of that three-letter word is: “at a future time.”
I pretended for months that I didn’t understand what that meant. After all, I told myself, I was certain God had called me to the teaching job I loved. (I’m still certain of that.) But slowly over the next nine months, an amazing thing happened. God changed my heart. It was like the nine-month gestation period preparing a baby to be born. Eleven years ago I was literally an infant in Christ, not YET spiritually ready for such a drastic life change. But God graciously provided an incubation period to prepare me.
God showed me the perfect Bible passage to express this idea. The Apostle Paul addressed the church at Corinth with these words:
“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.”1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NIV)
There’s that little word again: YET. Paul was saying the church members at Corinth were still too attached to the world and not mature enough in their faith. Therefore, they needed to be fed like infants. They were not YET ready for solid food, but with the implied promise that they would be ready at a future time.
I still cried when I wrote my resignation letter. I grieved at leaving something I loved, but at the same time, I experienced great joy. God changed my heart until I wanted what He wanted more than anything else in the world. Finally, I was ready to take solid food instead of infants’ milk.
His plan was for me to go in a new, different and exciting direction. In that process, I discovered something wonderful: God’s call on your life can change. After all, Scripture promises:
By Jill Briscoe, justbetweenus.org
The primary call of God in our lives is our relationship with Him. But there is also a secondary call on our lives. As Os Guinness has noted in his book The Call, this secondary call is to tasks or vocations – the work God has appointed us to do. This includes both career plans and the minor daily tasks that come as part of everyday life. We can experience a sense of calling every day as God sets our agendas. Part of God’s plan for all His people is to put His work in our hands, and part of being spiritually mature is this sense of calling to this work.
God doesn’t leave us guessing what our job is, either. When He called Jeremiah, he had very specific instructions for him that included what He wanted Jeremiah to do, where He wanted him to do it, and what the results would be. God also gave Jeremiah a small glimpse into the big picture.
God told Jeremiah, “Before you were born I set you apart [consecrated you for my special use]; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). God commissioned, appointed, or ordained Jeremiah as his spokesman before the foundation of the world. And one day, Jeremiah became aware of his divine appointment.
Are you aware of your divine appointment? Are you convinced about God’s truth concerning His lost world and what He wants you to do about it? Your appointment and my appointment will be different from Jeremiah’s appointment, but all will be just as important as others in the bigger scheme of things.
Again, in his book The Call, Os Guinness says:
Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia). Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history. But these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.” They are our personal answer to God’s address, our response to God’s summons. Secondary callings matter, but only because the primary calling matters most.
So often we can get thoroughly fed up with the callings, or tasks, that we do for God in Christian service. If we don’t have our primary calling overruling and overshadowing our secondary callings, we quit or at least lose all joy in the journey. We also need to sense the huge importance of our secondary callings. These callings have been as much in the mind of God for us as was our primary calling. Knowing this changes our attitude toward everything we do.
You need to ask yourself, What is driving my ministry activity? Are you running the church nursery because someone at church asked you to or because you believe that God (who is calling the shots) nudged that person to ask you to? Are you convinced that this activity you are engaged in is the reason God made you in the first place?
A cartoon in a Christian magazine showed an old lady sitting in the church nursery in a rocking chair. She had been there a long time. The caption underneath the cartoon said, “I only came in here 30 years ago because Hilda wanted to go to the bathroom!” You can laugh at this, unless you are the one who has been stuck in that same rocking chair and are not sure you should have been there.
If you find yourself in a similar dilemma, let me ask you this: What has kept you at your post? If God has kept you there because you discerned that this was one of your secondary callings, then you will be confident, happy, and satisfied to be there. If, on the other hand, you are there because Hilda asked you to be there or because no one else would take a turn, or just out of sheer habit, you will have no joy in the doing. You run the risk of looking back and asking yourself, What could I have done with all those hours spent in that rocking chair?
A missionary in the Caribbean once told me, “I have served at this post for thirty-six years. I have been a missionary wife and full-time pastor’s wife all this time. If I have one regret, it’s that I have been in the pew every time the church door was open. I have not missed one wedding or funeral. Looking back, I question why. I think of many, many times I did not need to be there. I realize that I could have accomplished so much if I had allowed God to tell me where He wanted me and what He wanted me to do and not let others’ expectations drive my actions.”
How do you know if you are truly in God’s secondary calling on your life? Listen to God’s still small voice. He will tell you. And then, with some strange internal knowledge, you’ll say, Yes, this is the particular secondary calling He had in mind for me before He made me.