God spoke. His voice was clear and gentle. He drew close like a hug and whispered to my heart. Write for me, he said. The call – his voice – was unmistakable.
Jumping Into Obedience
Have you ever heard God’s voice so clearly that, in that moment, you had no doubt you heard correctly?
If yes, what did he say?
- Did he affirm a gift or calling?
- Maybe you received a promise for your future, or guidance for this season of your life.
- Or did he speak a word of healing into your heart, which freed you to be more of who he made you to be?
When we’re confident that we’ve heard God’s voice, our hearts fill with faith. His words spur us toward obedience.
It’s been four years since God called me to write, and I’ve been busy ever since. I’ve:
- written essays,
- queried one novel,
- devoured books and blogs about writing,
- created a blog,
- joined critique groups,
- drafted a second novel,
- made new friends (who love to write, too!), and
- submitted multiple short stories to websites.
As I continue to obey God’s call, I believe something good – something big – will happen at any time.
Any time now…
Doubt Counseling with John the Baptist
I dug into John’s life account recently and was struck by how I identified with his plight. No, I’m not scheduled for a beheading. But I saw myself in his story, and I wonder if you will, too…
God Calls John
First, God reveals John’s calling to the prophet Isaiah:
“Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, ‘Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!”Isaiah 40:3 NLT
Second, an angel confirms John’s calling while appearing to his father, Zechariah, before John is conceived. (You can read the whole account in Luke 1:5-25.)
Third (as if the calling wasn’t already clear enough), the Holy Spirit prophesies through Zechariah after John’s birth:
“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”Luke 1:76-77 NIV
God Confirms John’s Trajectory
Fast forward to when John is an adult, and you’ll see him jumping head-first into obedience. As he does, God amasses an impressive following of seekers who listen to John’s message and repent. Since followers equal success (by human standards, anyway), his ministry appears to be going well.
One day, at the peak of his ministry, John meets Jesus on the shores of the Jordan where John is baptizing. Of course, they already know each other because they’re cousins. But now, John finally sees Jesus for who he truly is.
“‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.’”John 1:32-34 NIV
At this moment, John must be exploding with faith. His calling has been confirmed again! He’s on the right path, events are unfolding just as God said they would, and John knows that something good – something big – is about to happen.
Time Gives Birth to Doubt
Time passes, and while Jesus’s ministry gains popularity, John’s followers lessen, which John is fine with. This was the plan: less John, more Jesus. But when John is captured and his future suddenly appears grim, he doubts.
Can you imagine his thoughts? Maybe I dreamed that the heavens opened and the Spirit descended. I mean, Jesus is really just a nobody from Nazareth. He can’t even free me from prison. Maybe this is all a big mistake, because nothing seems to be happening.
John is desperate for clarity. For if he misinterpreted the signs that day on the Jordan, if Jesus isn’t the Son of God, then all is lost. His years of ministry, and his imminent death, are a tragic waste. He reaches out to Jesus:
“When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’”Matthew 11:2-3 NIV
Do You Doubt That You’ve Been Called?
I understand John’s doubts. When I first heard God’s call to write, my future appeared clear. The call has become progressively fuzzy ever since.
Fearing We’ve Missed the Mark
Did you know that a lot can not happen in four years? Mostly, I’ve discovered how much I don’t know about writing. I don’t have a large blog readership to boast about. And not one short story or novel has been accepted for publication.
So, I doubt. Maybe I made up this “calling” for myself. Am I wasting my time, plunking keys and researching and pushing forward? Maybe this is all a mistake, because nothing seems to be happening.
When outcomes leave us disillusioned, we’re left questioning: “Did I hear right? Have I missed the mark?”
What Are You Expecting?
Doubt feeds on faulty expectations.
The Jews (and therefore, likely John, too) were expecting a warrior, a leader to physically free Israel. Turns out, the Messiah didn’t come to instantly overthrow the Roman Empire:
“And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.’”Matthew 11:4-6 ESV
I’ve been expecting an end-goal, some version of what I believe to be writing success. But God didn’t whisper to me promises of a publishing contract. He just told me to write.
When my future appears fuzzy, I run to Jesus for clarity. I hear him say:
“Go and see, Sara, what’s happening behind the scenes: Your writing skills are growing; your character is being pruned; your relationships are blossoming; and there are my chosen few who have been blessed by your writing, your blog, your book. Blessed are you if you are not offended by my methods in your life.”
The Antidote to Faulty Expectations
If doubt feeds on faulty expectations, then it’s a weak monster. Our weapon against it is faith:
- Faith in the Messiah, not in ourselves or our calling.
- Faith in Jesus – our teacher and friend. Our King. Our guide.
- Faith that no matter the outcome of our obedience, we can be sure that God’s ways are perfect.
A good friend recently told me, “There’s so much humility and yielding required, I think, to get down to what His calling on our lives actually is.” (Lisa of The Manitoba Mom Blog)
With that in mind, I encourage you to:
- keep your heart humble and open to hearing God’s voice;
- be willing to obey him in everything;
- do your best to align your expectations with what he’s specifically promised you; and
- leave the results up to him – in faith.
Encouragement in Your Calling
For today, close your eyes and imagine God’s arms wrapped around your shoulders. Hear him whisper:
“Yes, you heard me right that day I spoke into your heart to be a homemaker, a teacher, a journalist, a speaker, a businesswoman, a prayer warrior, a janitor, a blogger… Things may not be turning out the way you thought they would, but have faith: my plans are good. Keep abiding in me, yielding to me. I’m working through your life, even in the little things. They’re bigger than you think.”
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