The other day, I was using Google Maps to get directions to a meeting. At first, I could see only a cross-street and had no clue where I was headed. Then I used the handy-dandy “zoom out” button to back off and see a bit more about what neighborhood I’d be going to and sure enough, that zoom-out told me everything I needed to know about how to get to the meeting.
In a recent conversation, a dear friend and I were discussing how it can often be frustrating trying to figure out what God wants us to do. At several crossroads in my life, I’ve often sought God’s direction, done the best I could and went one way or another while still wishing I was SURE that’s what God wanted. Or I’ve wondered why God allowed circumstances in my life to prevent me from doing things I really thought He had assigned to me. Did He change His mind? Is He playing cat and mouse? Among believers, I’ve heard this same story again and again.
But you know what? God sees the “zoomed-out” picture! His calling and purpose for me permeate my being much more deeply than I originally thought.
When I was 15, I heard God call me to work for Him. Over the years, the idea I first had of what God might expect has certainly undergone a metamorphosis. (Thank You, Lord.) I first assumed, since I’m a girl, that the only way I’d be able to minister for God would be to marry into the ministry. (If you want to know how that worked out, read through the “Where I’ve Been” pages) Then I assumed the only way would be teaching women, Baptist women, and women younger than I. I assumed that my only place would be putting on high teas, women’s retreats, or prayer luncheons. Then I assumed my teaching and leading would look very much like other popular female Bible teachers and speakers. I did the best I could based on the “cross streets” I could see. Thank God, He was looking at the zoom-out map!
These days I’m learning that God’s purpose and call is much larger, more thoroughly built into my being than I realized. It’s more than just what I’m doing for a job. Many years I’ve spent wondering why God didn’t give me a job in His “calling” for me. But the truth is, if we are faithful to His calling on our lives, we’ll be living it out no matter where we are or what we’re doing. God’s purpose for you and me goes way beyond what we do for a living, neither can it be accomplished in a mere 40 hours a week. My job is simply one small way I can live out God’s calling for me.
There was a time when I just knew I was living out God’s call because I was writing devotionals, speaking to women’s groups, leading a class at church, and being a minister’s wife. Then, all that went away. For a short time, I wondered what in the world God was thinking. Why did He allow my life to fall apart? Didn’t He mean it when He called me? But after the pain subsided a bit, after a new marriage, a new job, a new baby, and a few new homes, I’ve realized something: God’s call still burns me up inside. I’m carrying it out in spite of myself! My deepest heart still wants to do what He wants me to do. People who need His love still surround me and I am still driven to share that love with them. Perhaps my life has undergone quite a few changes, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that voice that called me out back at 15 years old. When will I stop boxing God into my own little ideas?. Sometimes I’ve carried out God’s call by writing, sometimes speaking, sometimes rocking one of my children, sometimes teaching, sometimes working with families, sometimes hugging an older person, sometimes leading a house church, sometimes loving my husband, sometimes having coffee with a friend, sometimes reaching out to a worried daughter and telling her mom’s going to be ok, sometimes helping a stressed out son make a good care decision for his dad, sometimes a hand to a coworker who’s having one of those days, and sometimes making a pot of coffee. How foolish to assume that God would ask for my workday alone. He wants, and has, all of me, so why would I expect Him to use any less than all of me?
So are you wondering what God wants you to do? Are you waiting for God to bring along the perfect job or perfect situation before you carry out the dream He’s placed in you? Give some thought to the idea that God’s desires, purpose, and calling for you are much larger and deeper than a vocation alone. God has place unique gifts in you and produced a one-of-a-kind creation. Sometimes, crucial tasks appear before us in the grocery store, on an airplane, or at the baseball field. Try zooming out, and allowing God to carry out His work in every single area, every single moment. Rely on Him completely to provide a place for you to live out your God-given purpose, but know that He may provide more than one place, may ask for more than just your work week, more than just your Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. This “God’s will” thing just may revolutionize your whole existence. It sure has mine!