I meet people everyday who want to be used by God. Or at least feel like they are doing something for God that matters. They want to make an impact. It’s the age old question of: what is God’s will for my life?
I have noticed something in Scripture lately. There is a big difference between people who want to be used by God and the people God chooses to use. What’s the difference and how do we become the latter?
The transformation after the disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit was astounding. For three years they had followed Jesus desperately wanting to play a significant role in His kingdom, but they never seemed to quite get it right. Even when Jesus sent them out to perform miracles in His Name their motives became askew. But after Pentecost, that all changed. So what’s the secret?
Well, obviously the Holy Spirit living inside of them, but there was another tremendous shift, most assuredly due to the Spirit’s presence in their lives: perspective.
Suddenly their whole mission changed and they saw things much differently.
1. You discover that the things that appear to detain you from being used of God are actually equipping you. All of the foibles and life worries of the 12 knucklehead disciples vanished: fear, doubt, insecurity, thoughts of practicality- all gone. Let’s say you feel called to minister to a particular group of women. However, caring for your family, you have little time to manage anything else. The cry of your heart is, “If only my husband would understand this burden I have and support me!”. Your family begins to feel like an obstacle. Well guess what you have in common with probably 99.99% of the women to whom you will minister? They are part of a family, either immediate or extended.Those people in your life are authenticating your call, not detaining it. And right now, God is asking, “Will she be faithful with her family, because I have much yet to reveal to her?!”.
Maybe you are caring for an aging parent. It could be that your own health issues are demanding all of your time and energy. Maybe you are working to help get your family out of debt or while your husband is looking for a job. Do you have a friend struggling in their faith or life circumstances? Suddenly you feel called to spend a great deal of your time ministering to them. During these seasons, God is already accomplishing something in and through you. We often don’t realize it- we need a shift in our perspective.
2. You realize your agenda is way too small. Before Pentecost the disciples wanted to free Israel from Rome. That was their agenda. They had no idea that Jesus’ agenda was to offer spiritual freedom to the entire world for all of eternity. They were thinking right here, right now. Jesus is thinking globally for all time. Oftentimes, we have a specific idea of exactly how we want God to use us and why. Go to a writer’s conference- I want to tell my story for God in my book and change the world. You hear this over and over again. But maybe God has a different idea about how He wants to use you to change the world…..something bigger than you could imagine. Maybe it involves a book, maybe it involves telling your story 10,000 times in front of live audiences. That’s not the point. The question is: are you willing to be used of Him in His way rather than your own? Once the disciples finally understood Jesus’ agenda, we do not read about a single one of them having an ounce of regret in following Him. Do you want your agenda or a life without regret?
3. You embrace the fact that it is going to be uncomfortable. When you choose to follow Jesus’ agenda, it’s going to go against the rhythm of the world. And that’s a good thing, because you and I, if we are followers of Jesus, are not of this world. And anything worldly we do will never offer the significance nor satisfaction that we are seeking, no matter how certain we may be that it will. Rather, we will experience the strain of swimming against the tide. It’s in this strain that we experience His marvelous strength working in and through us and our faith is built. We embrace the fact that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves and we finally feel whole, complete.
So if you are rowing along, wondering if and when your big “walk on water” moment may come, set down your oars for a moment. Realize with me that doing great things for God doesn’t necessarily mean rowing harder or faster. Sometimes it means being still, turning around in your seat and looking Him in the face and asking, “In which direction do you want me to steer right now?”. He’s in the boat with you and is not dependent upon all of your striving to bring you to the destination He has in mind. To truly understand His agenda though, He is dependent upon you and I listening.
So whether you feel stuck in the middle of the lake with no destination in sight, or you are swirling around on a difficult sea, He is there. He knows where He is going. He has a plan. It’s probably bigger than your own dreams, no matter how big they might be. So be like the disciples. Wait for the Holy Spirit. Expect Him. He is living inside of you waiting to reveal the good works that He has planned for you before the world was ever formed.
Plans to change the world.
And here’s a crazy thought: “What if you were already actually fulfilling those plans and you didn’t even realize it?!”. Do you think the disciples’ mothers had any idea when they rocked their babies to sleep at night the men they were to become? Not in a hundred million years. Could it be that your greatest impact for the Kingdom of God is happening around your kitchen table at 5:30 pm each night? Should your children grow to be mighty servants of God, would you have any regrets? John says, “I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in truth”. Those may not have been his physical children, but as a mom, there are not any two people on earth who I want to see follow the LORD more than my son and daughter. Perspective.
Personally, when someone approaches me with something I’ve written that contains an insight that God graciously gave me into His Word, and shares how God used it in their life, it blesses me greatly. I am immensely humbled and honored to be used in that way. But, when my children make a connection between something for which we prayed and God’s activity in their life? This is IT for me! This is when I go into my bedroom, do the happy dance and then fall on my face in awe that the God Who created all things and holds eternity in His hands would choose to reveal Himself to little children. My two children. And their knucklehead mother.
God doesn’t waste anything. That includes your life and mine. So get ready. There is a great big world out there in desperate need of some change. Shhhhh, listen! I think I hear the Spirit stirring. Could He be bringing some perspective?