Have you ever thought about what your calling is? I’m not talking about your 8-5 job. I mean have you ever asked God, “what is your calling for me?” God has been stirring my heart with a calling. I’m still trying to define it, but getting to this point has been a process. Now, the process is usually not fun. That’s because God may show you some things in your heart that aren’t pretty. God wants to heal your heart though and He is a kind, loving Father who doesn’t condemn. So we started looking at my heart. My dad was a mechanic so opening up the hood to see what’s going on so you can diagnose the problem is an analogy that resonates with me.
The season of Lent falls on the calendar before Easter. My experience with lent was listening to my sorority sisters say they were giving up chocolate. So I always thought that lent was a time where you would give up something important to you so you could focus more on Jesus. I really started learning more about the significance of lent when I started studying the Passover. I know that Jewish people don’t celebrate lent and that Protestants don’t celebrate Passover, but I started understanding the meaning behind both of these events when I learned that it wasn’t about what you give up, it’s about letting God search your heart. “Search me, O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. Psalm 139:23-24. David gives us clarity in this psalm. Changing a habit is not easy. Psychologists say that it takes 21 days to change a habit. A heart change may occur in 21 days, but often it is a process. Just as making bread from yeast is a process, so is removing sin from our lives. Yeast has always represented sin in the Bible so the Jewish people are looking for sin in their lives when they celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Breaking free from sin starts when we decide to get honest with God. David said, search, know, try my heart and my thoughts.
As I’ve been preparing for my calling, it occurred to me while sharing my desire with a friend that I had a fear of failure on me. You may look at this and feel sorry for me. I knew that fear is not from God. One of the first verses I memorized is II Timothy 1:7 which says, “for God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind”. I prayed that God would help me overcome this fear, but first of all, He had to show me it’s root. This is where it gets dirty. I realized that this fear of failure was coming from wanting affirmation from man, not God. You see, I could just visualize people saying, “Wow, Angie, you’re really helping people. You’re doing a great job”. One day, I felt the Lord speak to my spirit about that issue. “Angie, let me take that burden off of you. You can’t help anybody.” Hmmmm…could a little pride have crept into that fear of failure? God’s Word says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing”, John 15:6. Do I want to work in my strength or the strength of the Holy Spirit? I am willing to be used of God. He has given me skills, abilities, talents and gifts. He wants me to fulfill my calling and use the gifts He has given me, but I have to die to self. That doesn’t mean that I can’t still be me. It means I get to see the Holy Spirit working through me to help others overcome strongholds that are holding them hostage and preventing them from fulfilling their calling God has placed on them. And don’t miss this because it’s MAJOR. If my motive is operating out of a selfish heart and not out of love, it will be a HUGE failure. God does use failure. Could it be His plan that I fail? You bet. He will always use it to conform me more to the image of His Son and His glory. This is a trust issue. Do I trust God even if I fail? Try to fulfill a calling without love and the scripture says, “we are a noisy gong or clanging cymbal”. I Corinthians 13:1. Our motive has to be LOVE!
God also had to show me my self-righteousness. I would never have something like self-righteousness in my heart! I learned that I did. I realized this sneaky sin was in my heart while studying the Prodigal Son in my small group. Do you remember the older brother scoffing in the corner when his brother returned? I wasn’t scoffing at someone else, but I actually thought that I could get God to bless me because of my obedience. My husband and I went through a difficult financial time for three years. I remember when we started going through this trial that I said, “But, God we’ve given our tithes and offerings. We shouldn’t be going through this.” Listen to the words of the older brother in the prodigal: “Look, these many years I have served you, and I have never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat that I might celebrate with my friends,” Luke 15:29. Sound familiar? I was saying, “Lord, my good works deserve something.” Self righteousness is self serving. Let me tell you something. I say this with great dignity and respect. You have areas in your heart that need to be conformed more to the image of Jesus Christ. If you have to go though some adversity to be made more like His Son, it is worth it. Be grateful that our good works don’t determine God’s goodness. We would limit Him.
God showed me what His Word says about righteousness. I needed to know the difference between self righteousness and righteousness .“He leads me down paths of righteousness for His name’s sake”. The path God leads us down can be scary and dark. King David had to contend with a giant named Goliath on one of his paths. David trusted God no matter what when facing this giant. Could he have failed in the world’s eyes? Yes. But, God was leading him down the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. God had also prepared David ahead of time. David had killed lions and bears while working as a shepherd (I Samuel 17:34). God will prepare you ahead of time for the path He chooses for you to go down. Proverbs 12:28 says, “In the path of righteousness is life and its pathway there is no death.” Throw away your desire to please man. Follow God down the path even when you can’t see too far ahead of you. You can trust God no matter what and you can trust Him with your failures. I choose God’s righteousness. My righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). His righteousness is life!
I may never help one person with my calling. This calling may really be about God showing me the places in my heart that need healing. “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart”. Psalm 51:6 Open your inward being and your secret heart to the God who loves you unconditionally. Cherish spending time with Him. Ask Him to show you areas in your heart that need to be healed. I encourage you to sit with Him with your Bible open. Ask Him to show you a verse that is just for you, then meditate on that scripture. When we look back on our lives, the most important task we can complete is spending time with Him. I promise you that the freedom you will experience far outweighs the process.