Several people meet with me because they don’t understand what their God-given calling is. God has always intended for us to be in relationship with Him while coming alive in what we do.
Most of us know Psalms 37:4 which says “Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (NASB).
So why do we try to bury the pieces of our heart that are connected to our calling?
For some it might be due to divorcing the life they had before coming to Christ. Others may have grown up in church but feel like they can never find God’s will for their life. Regardless of the reason why, it’s sad when people are floundering in life while dismissing their God-given call.
I’m the last one to point a finger.
At eighteen years old I had to make a decision. It came at a time when I wanted little to do with God or the church. The last thing I was trying to figure out was the call on my life. That said, as I began the process of applying for the Marine Corps I was almost haunted by this thought: “Marine or Missionary?” I didn’t dare tell anyone what was going on because none of my friends at the time would understand.
I chose the Marines. I rationalized that decision because I figured the following:
• I don’t want to be poor.
• I don’t want anything to do with God
• There’s nothing exciting about being a missionary except traveling
• I’ll get to travel in the Marines. And fight (which I felt like I wanted at the time).
I had a longing to travel. I still do. It’s a desire that God placed in my heart before I was ever born. Even at eighteen I knew that traveling the world had to fit into what I did.
Unfortunately I had gone into “emotional survival mode” due to a variety of circumstances that surrounded my life at the time. When I was making this major life decision I was disconnected from my heart. I couldn’t clearly see/feel what I was called to. So I picked the most “logical” decision. The problem was that I made a logical decision out of a place of pain.
Pain will often sabotage our ability to connect with certain areas of our calling.
The beautiful thing is that God isn’t phased by our poor decisions. Remember, He’s the master of working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). His unconditional love is willing to wait for us to choose to move toward His plans.
I completed four years of active duty in the Marines. It’s something I am proud of and don’t regret at all. Looking back at my “logical” reasons for joining you can find some humor. Even though I was active duty from 2000 to 2004, I never once deployed. That’s right. I joined to travel but never actually did it! In hindsight I realized it was God’s protection and what I like to call His sense of humor.
It was only after I got out of the Marines and whole-heartedly gave my life to Christ that I ended up experiencing what I had longed for. Six months after my contract ended I found myself doing mission work in Mozambique with Iris Ministries.
Traveling is only one piece of my personal puzzle which is forming a beautiful picture as I find (and focus on) one piece at a time.
Going back to the Psalms 37:4…it starts with “Delight yourself in the Lord.” We can only adequately connect with our core desires once we have positioned our heart in affection towards God.
You may not be hard-hearted like I was, but pain can cause us to rationalize decisions that are counter to God’s plan. You will never be able to fully suppress your calling regardless of what your life may look like right now. God can and will work everything for good. It’s what He does.
Finding the lost pieces: There is hope. You can pray and ask God to highlight areas of your life that may have fallen dormant. He’s excited to show you. Not to shame you, but rather to point you in the direction that will make you come alive.
You can (and should) be proactive when God begins to bring these areas to the surface.
1. Repent: The turning point for me was when I dropped to my knees and asked for forgiveness. It changed the direction I was headed and pointed me toward His calling.
2. Reflect: Take time to think about the subtle moments that you felt your heart leap or can’t get rid of a life-giving thought. Try to identify certain themes in your life where you feel God’s pleasure. Write them down and begin to pray for God to highlight areas that you can begin to re-engage with.
Move On: There comes a time where you have to close that chapter of your life. God values our history, but doesn’t want us to live in it. Once you have started consciously moving towards your calling, don’t look back!