“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
This verse has followed me around the world, and when I read it again this morning, I realized I have no reason to fret. Even when I’m not so sure about tomorrow, I know the Lord has it under control. After all, he’s got plans.
You may think you’ve made plans. If you’re like me, you’ve probably at least made a list, trying to get all your ducks in a row. Or, maybe you like to make a two-column list of positives and negatives. What’s good about moving forward in a particular ministry? What’s bad about moving overseas? When one outweighs the other, you find God’s will, right?
My sister, I must tell you. He doesn’t work like that, and I’ve got the lists to prove it!
No, even when everything looks negative, he reminds us that he “works all things to the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
So, if lists do no good, what do you do when seeking to determine his will for your life? Listen for his voice. How?
- By being quiet, yourself. Get rid of distractions and put your self in a position to listen.
- Set aside your preconceived ideas. Ask him only about the basic call.
- For example, if you sense God calling you to serve among refugees in your town, don’t think about how or when, just focus on the initial task.
- What does this potential plan look like in relation to his Word? Does your following this direction lead you to be in disobedience to anything the Bible teaches?
- For instance, if you have a lot of school debt, would leaving a job that allows you to pay down your debt sooner and potentially accumulating more debt be something you think God’s Word promotes or discourages?
- Does the idea of doing this particular ministry give you great joy?
- This doesn’t mean that it won’t be hard or without cost, but does it excite you? There is a difference between feeling obligated to do something and compelled. “His love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
A few weeks ago, I sat at a conference and heard two questions: “What brings out the best in you? Where do you find your joy?” Once I thought about it, I knew that I needed to continue to write in the area, I not only knew the best, but had been called to from the age of ten. Though the expression of my call has changed in different seasons of my life and over the course of years, the basic call has remained the same — I’m called to missions, and there I rest.
So, as you embark on this journey of ministry or continue on the path, don’t allow Satan to slow you down with discouragement or fear. Go back to the heart of the matter and focus on the plan of God for your life. The initial call that put spark in your soul and a smile to your face. Rest there until he tells you to take the next step, and watch hope be restored.
We may be in exile, but we’re still serving…together for his glory.
Grace and Peace