Without a Map
I was hearing God's voice daily - sometimes more than once. Little signs would assure me of the direction I was headed. A book I was reading, a random verse on Instagram, or a conversation with a friend would confirm the next step to take.
It's great when we go through times like that. We feel empowered and read verses like John 10:27 with confidence. We come to a crossroad, pray for guidance, and God seems to answer immediately. We are living a life of obedience, but are we living a life of faith?
When the silence struck, I don't know that I noticed right away. (Being pregnant with a second child and running after a toddler all day can keep one pretty distracted.) But after a few days went by, without any word from the Lord, I started to wonder.
Had I done something wrong? Was I too busy and not spending enough time in prayer? Did I need to read my Bible more? Was I still on the right path?
I had received so many specific directions the past year, that this silence made me anxious. God asked me to let go of my dreams for His and I did. God called me to start writing and I did. God nudged us to try for a second child and we did.
After so many concrete directions, why was I sitting here not knowing what to do next?
Last spring, God planted a seed in my heart to start women's ministry at my church. I contacted some church leaders and shared with them what I felt God had said. I didn't have many details, God didn't reveal His master plan, but I knew in my heart women's ministry was needed. One leader and I agreed to pray continually over this and see where God lead next.
I prayed that God would guide us as we moved forward. I prayed that if I was not the one to be leading, that he would stir up the heart of the woman he saw fit. I had questions. Do we start with a Bible study? An event? Something else? So I prayed for God to reveal the next step.
Months went by, still no specifics. No big vision or dream. No revelations.
Spring small groups were being planned and I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't know if God wanted me to lead a group or wait for different instruction. The deadline for signing up as a leader was close and I had no map telling me where to go. I felt completely blind.
In Genesis 12 we read about the call of Abram - the moment God planted a seed in Abram's heart. "The Lord said to Abram: Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you." (Genesis 12:1 CEV, emphasis added my own). "The land that I will show you" doesn't exactly give direction and yet, just a few verses later, we see Abram's response. "So Abram went, as the Lord had told him..." (Genesis 12:4a ESV)
Although Abram did not have a road map, he still answered obediently and walked in faith in the calling God had for him. God gave Abram a direction, a vague one, but a direction still. All Abram had to do was take steps forward and trust that God would show him like He promised.
I like the way Bob Deffinbaugh puts it in his series "Genesis: From Paradise to Patriarchs". He says, "In one sense, the command of God to Abram was very specific. Abram was told in detail what he must leave behind...On the other hand, God’s command was deliberately vague. While what was to be left behind was crystal clear, what lay ahead was distressingly devoid of detail."
God left details out on purpose to grow Abram's faith. Although He may choose to give specific directions at times, that isn't always the way it goes. What faith would we have to possess if we always knew the next step? What trust would be necessary if God always gave the full picture?
Abram isn't the only one who had to take steps in trust and faith. In Exodus 33, Moses is pleading with God for the next step and instead of directions, God replies with a promise. "The Lord replied, 'I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest - everything will be fine for you.' " (Exodus 33:14 NLT).
We have our own promises from God throughout scripture. God promises that He will guide us (Isaiah 58:11) and always be with us (Joshua 1:9), but does that always mean we get to see the blue prints? Will we sometimes have to take the next step in faith and trust that God is there?
Psalm 32:8-9 puts it rather bluntly, "The Lord says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.' ". Most read this as an reminder to obey God willingly, and I agree. But what if God is also asking us to take action on the instructions He's already provided? What if He wants us to move forward in faith without having to be directed?
I did take action and signed up to lead two groups. I decided if I continued to align my heart with God's through prayer, then I could move forward without hesitation. If I hadn't heard a specific answer, then I had to go back to what He had already revealed: start women's ministry. If I made the wrong choice, I had to trust that God would make that clear with a redirection.
I still don't have all the answers, I probably never will, but I decided to on without a map. I decided I was going to step out in faith and trust God along the journey. I decided that I would continue to pray and listen for specific directions, but not sit dormant in the mean time.
I am confident I have been called to write. So I will write. I am confident I have been called to speak and teach. So I will speak and teach. I am confident I have been called to women's ministry. So I will involve myself with the women of my church.
And when God does have a specific direction to give? I trust He will give it and I am ready to obediently receive it.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 ESV
"So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope...we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God's promises]." 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 AMP
For more resources on finding your own calling, check out Cross Point Church's series "The Wonderlife" by Pete Wilson and Mike Foster.
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