Someone once told me that God told them to move to my town from the other side of the country with no job. They did not know exactly why God called them to the east coast before they moved, but they were certain God was leading them. With very little direction as to what they were doing and where they were going, the family moved, and it wasn’t long before they were working in an area of ministry that seemed to be a clear fit.
I have often wondered at stories like that. I have heard several people say that God told them to take a job, move somewhere, marry someone, etc. I have wished that God would tell me to do some drastic act that would make a great story about faith, but I don’t believe He has ever done that in my life. There have been times I thought He was telling me to do some task, but I was generally wrong and often felt silly after trying. I knew that in reality, I had actually made up some out of the ordinary act that I thought would make me happy at the time, and I hoped it was from God. I hadn’t really considered what He would actually want me to do.
As I make life choices, I often figure that my faith must be lacking because I don’t feel that God tells me to make a specific choice. In fact, I usually don’t really know how I got there during the process of major life changes. Sure, I can trace the story back to the college decision process, my brief move to another country, and choosing to marry my husband. However, in those moments, I haven’t necessarily felt like God was leading me to those things. I just sort of woke up there and saw there was no other logical choice. I look back and say God brought me to where I am because I feel like He did everything to make all of the opportunities in my life come about.
When I hear stories in which people say God told them to do some courageous act with no certainty of the future ahead of them, they seem genuine. They seem to be involved in some great work that is fitting for them. Generally, it is hard to doubt that God called them to where they are.
So why is my experience so different? Why haven’t I been called to some grand act of faith? As I have pondered these questions, I have realized that I often look for ways to drastically change my situation. I want to control and manipulate my circumstances. I want a shortcut to happiness and personal growth by doing something extravagant so that I can say that I have great faith, but when I try that route, it typically becomes obvious that the task isn’t from God. I haven’t made it anywhere by trying to manipulate my own agenda. Not to jobs. Not in marriage. Whenever I seek to take my life in my own direction, I end up feeling lost. Then, God always brings just the right person or opportunity out of nowhere.
It wouldn’t necessarily be an enormous act of faith for me to make some radical move. I would try to take control, and I wouldn’t be focused on God’s agenda or my need for Him. For me, it would require much more faith to stay in one place and wait. To watch the world go by each day without making a move when I want to see change is extremely challenging for me. That doesn’t mean that I should sit by idly and never look for opportunities. It just takes more faith for me to stop looking for my next opportunity and to trust that God has control.
In reality, I’m not going to make the opportunities in my life happen. I can’t take credit for whatever God has planned. He is the One who will get me there, and He doesn’t need my help to accomplish His purposes. He may choose to use me to do good works, but He doesn’t need me.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) tells us, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” God has already prepared the tasks He has planned for me. He doesn’t need me to anxiously glance around so I can pounce the moment I see the chance to do good work.
I believe those people who say God called them to a certain place or time. I believe them when they say they took a leap of faith. I also believe that God teaches each of us faith in different ways. For some people, it involves significant faith to move across the country and to start a new ministry. For me, it requires more faith to surrender control of my circumstances while God accomplishes His plans through me.