Every year about this time, at summer’s end, prepping for another school year, another year of ministry, I question my “purpose” and my “calling”.
Truth be told, I hate those words. Mostly because I struggle to pinpoint what my purpose and calling are. God hasn’t given me the blue print to my life, so I frequently wonder what He’s up to.
The Bible teaches all believers are “called” to certain things – He called us to salvation (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 2:9); He calls us to peace (1 Corinthians 7:15); He calls us to have hope in Jesus (Ephesians 1:16-20; 1 Peter 5:10); He calls us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20); He calls us to love Him and one another (Matthew 22:36-39); He calls us to use our gifts to build up the church (Romans 12:4-8).
These are “general” callings. God doesn’t have to speak them directly to each one of us for us to know they are for each one of us. He wrote them in the Bible to save Himself some time. He’s smart like that.
But what about “specific” callings? Like God calling Abraham to leave for a new land (Genesis 12:1-4)? Or God hand-picking David to be Israel’s king (1 Samuel 16:10-13)? Or God calling Jonah to go to Nineveh (Jonah 1:2)? These callings aren’t for all believers; they were specific callings for individuals in history.
I often wonder what my “specific” calling(s) might be…
By virtue of the fact that I am married, I am called to be a (good) wife. Similarly, because I possess children, I am called to be a (good) mother.
If I consider my gifts of teaching and prophecy (commitment to the truth, not foretelling the future), I am called to use those somehow some way for the edification of the Church. In a way, that’s specific, but, on the other hand, a lot of details on how to use those gifts are lacking. Does the how even matter? Will God be happy with me using my gifts in any number of ways as long as it is done for His glory (Colossians 3:23)?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. And sometimes that fact trips me up.
I want to know which Bible courses He wants me to teach, what plans He has for this blog, if He wants me to take a staff position at my church, if He wants me to invest some time in developing a speaking career, if He wants me to go get a Masters of Divinity, if He wants me to write a book, etc., etc., etc.
Sometimes I get so caught up in what I don’t know, I am tempted to not do anything.
Satan likes to try to paralyze me with thoughts like, “Did God really call you to teach this specific Bible course, or did you volunteer on your own accord?” and “God isn’t really using this blog – maybe you should hang it up.”
But what Satan fails to mention is that if I do nothing, I won’t be obeying the general calls on my life. Problem.
As for the specific callings, Psalm 138:8 reads, “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me…”
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me… I don’t have to work it out; He will.
The Lord will fulfill HIS purpose for me… I don’t have to create my own purpose; He already has one in mind for me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for ME… I don’t have to wonder if He has a specific call on my life; He does.
The Lord WILL fulfill his purpose for me…. Whether I know what that purpose is, whether I cooperate with Him or rebel against Him, whether I feel inadequate or my weaknesses seem to get in the way, God WILL have His way with and through me.
This is great news. Namely, I can’t screw up God’s purpose for me! No matter what path I choose, He won’t let me walk down it unless it contributes to His purpose for me.
Recognizing this fact doesn’t provide me anymore of the details I wish I had… but it does provide me freedom. While Satan would have me freeze in the face of uncertainty, the Lord says, “Go ahead and try to use your gifts however you want; make a plan. Do not be afraid. I will redirect any misguided ideas you have to lead you into my purpose for you.”
The author of Proverbs 16:9 agrees, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”