I have never been a stranger to the concept of hearing from God. The challenge for me was that, in my religious circle, there were only a handful of directives that God gave people. They included:
- Pastor a start-up church
- Pastor an existing church (most often taken over from a family member)
- Become a missionary
- Become a worship leader
- Attend church and be helpful (teach Sunday School, etc.)
This was a struggle for me because I had never really identified with one of those directives. Most people made it clear that they believed it was only a matter of time until I stopped resisting and embraced one of these pre-approved God directives, namely a pastoral one. I even tried to be a pastor for a time. On the outside it went well, but there was still a nagging feeling that it was not what I was supposed to be doing. I do not believe that this pressure is unique to me. There are a large number of people in a pastoral role, and it is clearly not what they were designed for. Once I accepted that I did not fit into the pre-approved list, God started giving me direction.
The problem was that what he was directing me to do was not safe or predictable. As a result, my religious circle did not know what to do with it. I can not fault them for that, because I did not know what to do with it either. In hindsight I can see why I needed to step away from everything. Trying to live up to my expected calling, within pre-approved parameters, was preventing me from embracing my own, unique purpose.
Our family’s adventure has expanded my list of things God directs people to do. It is now as vast as the universe. As Jenny recently articulated in her post “God Has Stupid Ideas”, God’s directives rarely fit a pre-approved list and must be embraced, even (maybe, especially) when we do not understand them.
I had the opportunity to witness this concept being embraced at a church recently. Bella goes to Sunday School at the church we attend and Jenny and I received an official sounding email from the family pastor at the church. The email invited us to attend an “important” Sunday school meeting. In the meeting the senior pastor explained that the children’s pastor, his wife and their family feel God directing them to do something different. They did not know what it is, or even if they will be staying at the church. They just know that God is directing them to do something else. I recognized the strained hesitation in the children’s pastor and his wife as they attempted to explain something that did not make sense to them. Then the senior pastor explained that when God directs people he does not consult with us first. He acknowledged that the departure leaves a huge gap in the church structure, but he invited the church to join him and come along side the children’s pastor and his family as they continue to follow God’s leading. It was refreshing to witness a group of people role with an unpredictable God.
I want to encourage anyone who is attempting to hear God’s direction for their life. If you do not identify with a pre-approved list, it is okay. Pour yourself into Bible reading and see how broad the scope of things that God calls people to do actually is. You are unique and you were designed to fit a space that was created specifically for you. Once you embrace your unique purpose life gets a lot easier and more fun!