She was an older lady… sweet smile, shiny eyes. As we walked toward the room where we were meeting she said, “I always believed God called me to the mission field, but it didn’t turn out that way.”
My heart skipped a beat, and I felt tears threatening. Her words were so sad to me. Deep sad.
We didn’t have a chance to continue our conversation, but her statement haunted me all week because I could relate. For almost 30 years I’ve grieved not going to seminary to become a vocational pastor.
I remember that clear call as if it were yesterday. But I also remember the events and thoughts that ushered me another direction. I didn’t have my parent’s support, but more importantly, I mistakenly believed that if God called me to something, He would drop it into my lap. So, when seminary doors didn’t magically open, (I didn’t even apply) I believed that it wasn’t time, or that I was wrong about the call.
Fast forward 20 years.
God called me again. This time He called me to write and speak. I began writing a book which led to studying about the publishing industry, attending writers conferences, and blogging. In todays publishing industry writers are required to do their own marketing. Both writing and speaking require audiences. I struggled once again with how much I needed to do and how much God would do, and I found myself believing that God would make it happen–He would get the speaking gigs and expand my blog traffic. He would grow my audience.
But I never sent out my speaking flyers or did any of those things experts in the publishing world tell you to do to grow your internet presence. It felt too much like self-promotion…striving. But I have been miserable. I’ve been stuck in my muck. Very little joy. No consistent peace.
Nothing makes you feel worse than burying your calling, and that was what I was doing.
Like the person in the parable who was given one talent, I was staying safe with it. Yes, I was writing once a week, but I wasn’t actively pursuing this calling. I was waiting for the doors to magically open without applying.
But one day I got mad. I was done feeling sorry for myself. Tired of believing that I would never fulfill God’s call. I stomped my foot and cried out to God. “You’ve called me to this, and You put this passion inside of me. Do something! Show me what to do.”
Not long after my foot-stomping prayer, God revealed my need to step out in faith. I began to understand that I missed my call the first time because I didn’t pursue it.
I’ve been given a second calling, a second chance, but I have to do my part. Jesus didn’t sit around in the carpentry shop waiting for people to come to Him. He went to them.
Doing my part, getting out and actively pursuing what God called me to do gives me renewed joy and strength. I know there will be tough days; it won’t be easy. God will have to do big miracles to reach the goals the industry says you must reach. But the goals aren’t important; they aren’t my reason for pursuing this calling/career. Jesus is.
If you could do anything for God, what would you do?
I’m convinced that many of us miss our calling because we believe the lies and the tactics of the enemy. When the calling isn’t easy, when it requires financial loss, possible rejection over and over, or loss of friends who we respect, we are quick to second guess ourselves and God and bury the dream.
We get confused about whether we should wait on God or actively pursue the call.
But let your thoughts be a litmus test. How are your thoughts affecting you? The enemy wants us to experience defeat and despair. But the fruit of the Spirit is joy and peace. If you are stuck in the muck, joyless, you are listening to the wrong voice.
I’m out of my muck because I’m partnering with God to do what He has called me to do. Want to join me?
Have you missed your calling? What are you going to do about it?
“…So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.” Matthew 25:25
DON’T BE AFRAID.
May I pray for us? “Lord, we love you. We want to serve you. Some of us missed the first calling. In our fear we buried our talent. Please redeem our past failures and missed opportunities. Restore and renew the calls and give us the strength to pursue the purposes we know you’ve called us to do. By the power, strength, and grace of Jesus we pray. Amen.”
Next week: More thoughts about pursuing your call.