Category Archives: 31 Days (October 2011)

{Day 31} “He Who Calls You is Faithful…”

As we arrive at the end of this 31 Days to Better Understand our {God Given} Callings, I leave you with this truth:

We’re called to be faithful … to be obedient and to trust.

We’re called to glorify God … to know Him and to make Him known.

But not by our own strength or ability or understanding of our calling.

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

– 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV – emphasis added)

(for individual links to each post in this 31 Day series, please click here)

{Day 30} Two Prayers

When I began this series 30 days ago, I approached it with a rather long list of questions regarding our {God given} callings. And to be honest, most of those questions remain unanswered.

But as I intentionally searched Scripture and earnestly sought the Lord in order to better understand our {God given} callings, the questions changed, faded, and lost their place of importance.

In place of the questions, I found perspective restored, passion refreshed, and purpose renewed.

And somewhere along the way, as the questions faded, as Christ became the focus, as our highest calling became clear, these two prayers emerged:

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”

– Ephesians 1:18-10 (NIV)

———-

“You gently call me into your presence, guiding me by Your Holy Spirit.
Teach me dear Lord to live all of my life through Your eyes.
I’m captured by Your holy calling.
Set me apart, I know you’re drawing me to yourself.
Lead me, Lord, I pray.

Take me, Mold me, use me, fill me.
I give my life to the Potter’s hand.
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me.
I give my life to the Potter’s hand.”

– The Potter’s Hand (by Darlene Zschech)

 

{Day 28} Security

Although there may be times when we don’t understand our {God given} calling, there may be times when we question and doubt, and there may be times when we take a wrong step, our security isn’t found in nor does it depend on our calling.

Our security – our peace, our rest, our assurance – is found in the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, unchangeable One who calls. The One who knows the plans He has for us. The One whose purpose will always prevail. He is God alone. He is our very foundation. He is the everlasting rock.

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

– Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV)

{Day 27} Ministry is My Dance

…at least I thought so.

I had just returned from serving in Maryland as a summer missionary, my senior year of college was about to begin, I was actively leading small group Bible Studies and loving it, I had some sweet and developing friendships that I still enjoy today, and I had just gone to see “Step Up” in the theater.

During a climactic scene in the middle of the movie, all of the main characters are gathered at a water-front club in Baltimore. Each one connecting with his or her artistic ability in music or dance. And at one point the whole club joins in…dancing with energy and enthusiasm.

As I watched that scene that appeared so full of emotion and passion, I felt an instant parallel and connection to the atmosphere. Except the connection wasn’t to dancing, specifically…

Ministry was my dance.

It was the one thing that filled me with so much passion and excitement that I could burst. And I found myself longing for that. Longing to pursue the passion. Longing to pursue the dance.

But I think I misunderstood.

Over the course of my senior year, as I continued to grow, serve, lead, and mature, in part through a study on the life of David (Beth Moore’s “A Heart Like His”) I felt certain that God was leading me to apply to seminary. But leading me to vocational ministry? Although I had identified ministry as my dance, I wasn’t so sure. And it felt backwards to be called to seminary without first being called to ministry.

After all, seminary wasn’t ever supposed to be the goal. It was more of a means to an end. For people who already knew the goal.

But fervently praying and trusting that the Lord would stop me should seminary not be the direction He was leading, I began researching different options and found a multi-denominational seminary close to home that would allow me to take classes part-time while working full-time and had a solid reputation for its firm foundation in Scripture.

So I applied, secured a recommendation from my favorite professor, who although committed to his atheistic beliefs, was genuinely supportive and encouraging, was accepted, had an interview, and recounted confidently that I was certain this was where God had led … even though I wasn’t at all certain of where He would lead post-seminary.

But there was one thing that I could never really do. I could never fully write my {required} call to ministry paper.

I felt called to seminary. to study. to love Scripture. to love people. to help others love Scripture. to be an active part of the local church, the body of Christ. to love the atheists and unbelievers around me. to live like Christ. to shine for Him in dark places. even to pursue missions (though always in the short-term).

But ministry? That one passion I had previously referred to as my dance?

I longed for the clarity that I had heard in so many testimonies. I longed for that moment of insight when my path would be drastically and radically altered to follow the Lord to full time missions or ministry. I longed for the writing in the clouds answer.

But it didn’t come.

I left seminary this summer … midway through my Biblical Studies degree program.

Was seminary a mistake? I don’t think so.

I may not have completed the degree, but the learning, the growing, the trusting, the being challenged in heart, soul, mind and strength … I needed that.

When I identified ministry as my dance, I think I misunderstood. I wanted ministry because I thought ministry was the highest expression of loving God. I thought ministry was the way to reach people. But somewhere along the way of pursuing ministry, though not by a conscious decision, it became my goal, my drive, my desire … pursuing ministry had taken the place of pursuing Christ.

And when my passion was rightly restored to loving God and loving people, the place to which He was calling really hadn’t changed.

I know that I am called to imitate Christ and to love His people. At least for now, that means through a job in the secular workplace, through shining for the Gospel in the dark places, through serving in the local church, through being faithful in the small, through taking the next step by faith.

But knowing Christ … and knowing Christ well … must always come first.

I thought seminary would prepare me for future ministry. And in a way, it did. But not in the way I had expected. My time in seminary did prepare me with a readiness to step out and experience faith and trust … while boldly imitating and proclaiming Christ … in a whole new way.

I suppose in a way, ministry is still my dance.

But only when ministry simply means humbly seeking to know and love Christ, faithfully living for Him in the ordinary and everyday, and boldly proclaiming Him to those in need.

Yes, God calls some to pursue vocational ministry. But God calls others to simply pursue Him and to boldly proclaim His gospel from the field where we currently work. Forcing a call to ministry – forcing a direction that may appear to be good – isn’t necessary. The Lord’s purpose will prevail. Not when we are surrendered to ministry, but rather when we are fully surrendered to Him.

**all photos in this post were most graciously made available by my absolute favorite photographer, Kendra Martin Photography** 

{Day 26} The 10-Year Plan

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

– Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

There are very few things that throw me off course – that distract me from pursuing Christ in order to better understand His calling – more than the 10-year plan.

I was first introduced to the concept of having a 10-year plan when I was in middle school by well-intentioned church leaders who were encouraging a group of us to set goals beyond the limited vision (of the “who will I sit with at lunch tomorrow?” and “did anyone else notice that my socks didn’t match today?” sort) that tends to characterize the early teen years.

More recently, I have encountered the concept of having a 10-year plan by well-respected leaders (both secular and Christian) who advocate living intentionally and with purpose rather than just getting caught up in the necessary and mundane tasks that make up our everyday existence.

Both good things, right?

Except … that I can be doing well pursuing intimacy with Christ. Seeking Him first. Content with not knowing exactly where I’m headed. Because I’m trusting the One who calls. And taking one step at a time by faith … until someone mentions the necessity of a 10-year plan.

The 10-year plan that says I must have goals for the immediate and distant future. I must have career goals, family goals, church goals, relationship goals. I must have a life-plan for crying out loud! Because without one, I am sure to flounder, sure to walk aimlessly through life, sure to wake up in 10 years without a clue as to how I got there, and sure to remain stagnant as an individual rather than growing and maturing and achieving success.

But by whose standards?

And where is the 10-year plan referenced in Scripture again?

But rather than actually allowing those questions to slow my thoughts and bring perspective, I am immediately thrown into all shades of panic. I’m not sure where I want to be in 10 years. I’m not sure of the turns that my career path will take over the next 10 years. I’m not sure where I’ll be living in 10 years. I’m not sure what my relationship status will be in 10 years…especially since my 10 year plan when I was fourteen included marriage by twenty four…and that didn’t happen…so where does that leave me? With an epic fail at achieving the first 10-year plan?

But what if faithfully moving closer to Jesus each day really is enough? What if living every.single.day with eternal perspective and all that implies really is enough? What if trusting the One voice who will never change and never fail really is enough?

What if all those 10-year plans get in the way of and distract us from God’s plans? What if all those 10-year plans box God into only what we can imagine for ourselves?

What if He has different? What if He has more?

What if we were less concerned about conforming to the 10-year plans of this world and more concerned with being transformed by the renewal of our minds, so that we may instead test and discern the good and perfect will of God?

 

{Day 25} Our Highest Calling

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.”

– Ephesians 1:11-12

Chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) and created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27), our highest calling is simply this:

to glorify God.

That we “might be to the praise of His glory.”