Some people have clear visions for life given given by God that are readily seized. Some people receive prophesies or dreams with directions so specific they can’t be mistaken as anything other than divine. And some people get on their knees alone in their room, asking God for a sign, symbol, or spoken word and feel His voice clearly mark out their purpose on the planet for them.
I am not one of those people. To be truthful, I’ve spent too much time feeling jealous of those people.
My jealousy reached beyond the appearance of ease with which these people seemed to make decisions. Remarks that came off nonchalantly like, “God told me I need to be a missionary in Guatemala and go to Bible School in South Lake City, so that’s what I’m doing!” stabbed at my soul. Apart from the fact that these “perfect Christians” “had it all together,” they seemed to have a connection to God’s voice, will, and vision that I didn’t feel like I had.
From my perspective, God was being quiet. On purpose.
It wasn’t for lack of prayer and supplication that I would feel directionless, for I’m one of those who takes the “you have not because you ask not” edict pretty literally. Yet the following revelation I’m about to share which reversed this jealousy mentality in me, the mindset that if God wasn’t giving me a ten-year plan that I must be doing something wrong, was plucked from me one day as I was praying this:
God, “give me the greater gifts,” as your Word says. I want to see visions, heal, and receive prophecies. Even considering what followed after this prayer, I still don’t think that was an unrighteous prayer, for the Bible clearly says, “Seek the greater gifts.” And it was a prayer I had sent up in faith many many times previously. However, on that particular occasion of asking again, I felt God say to me, likely with the same clarity He often spoke to those who seemed to have their whole life planned out, “You are asking for these gifts because you feel jealous and lacking. Pray instead that I would equip you and prepare you to operate in those gifts.”
That slap in the face sent me reeling; reeling into an awakening that has changed my prayer life and my perspective on faith in a way that I imagine many people can relate to but probably aren’t comfortable talking about.
I feel that it’s first important to say that I have not always been able to clearly distinguish God’s voice. Some of you are probably starting from that place where the battle is simply hearing from God at all. To that, all I can say is keep praying and believing the passage which says, “My sheep know my voice.” Realistically, you probably do hear His voice already; it’s simply that you continue to doubt that you really are.
So what did that conversation reveal to me other than my misguided prayer? How did it soften my covetousness for Julie who knew she was called to adopt four children and knew from exactly which countries those kids were to be adopted from? Well, in that same breath of God correcting me, The Holy Spirit reminded me of all the times God has spoken clearly to me and given me direction. For context, a few of those times include Him telling me where to attend school, what to change my major to, what church to attend, and what internship offer to accept. In the moment of each of those prompts, I was faced with the choice to accept or reject. And as you know, when God does speak more vividly than normal, it would almost be scarier to say “yes” than “no.” During those instances, I took the leap of saying, “yes.”
To this day, when I reflect back on those choices, whether it was to attend a certain school or study a particular subject, I couldn’t tell you why God told me to do those things. I just did it. Because God speaks to me in steps rather than stories.
I truly don’t understand why God needed me to attend school, study Public Relations at that school, or work in a new city in a field with which I am not familiar. But being ignorant does not make me faithless, and it does not make me wrong.
I felt inadvertent pressure from the clean-cut plan-followers around me to know not only what I was supposed to be doing, but to know the purpose behind it. You know what takes a lot more faith than getting in your car knowing exactly what city you are supposed to go to? Getting in your car and driving because God told you to, trusting He will tell you where to stop so long as you abide in Him and trust His voice.
At least in this season of my life, I’ve discovered that’s the best, and really, the only thing for me to do: hold His hand and walk step-by-step. Most of the time, I can only see the part of the path that’s directly in front of me. At times, I feel like a horse drawing a carriage with blinders around its eyes. That horse’s job is to walk as its master steers it, and not get distracted by what may be beside or ahead.
None of this is to say that people who do have a clear call from God that gives them long-term direction are wrong. By no means; they are not anymore wrong or right than those of us who receive the next step rather than the full story when we fall on our knees and ask. But throughout my faith journey which is still in its early stages, God has been kind enough to comfort me with the truth that ten-year plans don’t always equate faithfulness. Wondering the future purpose of your present confusion does not mean you have it wrong. Walking in faith often means a step-by-step vision rather than following a road map.
How does God reveal His plans to you? Have you ever felt the pressure to know His long-term plan for you?
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