Ever since I dropped some packages off at the post office and the postal worker handed me a receipt for $6.66, and I looked at him and him at me, until finally he said, “I didn’t want to say it out loud” and I said, “Well, I am mailing religious books, so take that Satan!”...well, ever since then, things have gone incredibly awry. I will spare you all the horrible details that fell somewhere between the $600 cat surgery and the dead guinea pig, but let’s just say that I must be doing something right because someone down there is not happy.
Being a soldier of Christ Jesus is not for the faint of heart, my friends. Some days I wish I had chosen to become a soldier of anything else...like a soldier of lattes...or manicures…or sleep.
Sitting at my desk while trying to fight off all of the useless questions we like to ask God in times of suffering, questions like, “Why?” and “How long?”, I pulled up the first video for the Living in the Father’s Love Bible study, The Beauty Of A Childlike Faith. In this video, Lisa Brenninkmeyer lists three childlike qualities that God desires to see in each of us. I was most drawn to the second: Having confidence in God, trusting that only He can do what we cannot.
So, let me ask. Do you? Do you trust that He is in control? Are you confident that He has a good plan for you? When the ground is falling out from beneath your feet, do you trust that God knows what He is doing?
I’d like to think I have a firm trust in the Lord. I’d like to say that my confidence is not in myself but all in Him. But then...the cat’s ear blows up and I find the guinea pig hard as a rock and everything starts to crumble around me, and well, suddenly the obedient Christian life is not looking like such a great fit for me!
Have you ever felt this way?
Have you ever gotten to the end of your resources?
Have you ever looked at the path the Lord kept calling you to walk down and thought to yourself, “Good grief, Jesus, can I please get a new path? Or at least a scooter?”
Do you ever feel like no matter how hard you pray, how dedicated you are to being a servant of God, you are the one who continues to draw the short stick?
It is hard to have a childlike faith in the midst of the battle. Staying confident when the storms of life seem to pound and pound to no avail can feel unrealistic and impossible. And as I found myself in this place of doubt, I recognized that unless I physically move, I will remain spiritually stuck. So I took a walk down a long paved path, praying the sorrowful mysteries each step of the way. And I asked the Lord to please conform my will to His. I begged that He remove the doubt and desire to self-rely, and that I would have a firm trust in Him no matter the outcome; that I would still love Him just as much as I do on the mountain top as I do in the desert. That should He say “no” to my prayer, I would continue to say “yes” to whatever He chooses, out of love for Him.
Because here is the thing. When God chooses, He chooses from an eternal perspective. And I can’t even begin to pretend that I know how to wrap my head around that. But I have just enough faith, sprinkled with a good amount of grace, to know that this is a leap worth taking. A true and free gift from God. I am able to accept this; that He has the bigger picture. Not me. And if He does not give me what I ask for, it must be for my good. That this very cross I want to lose is actually my bridge to Heaven. And as hard as this can be to understand, I simply do. Because if this isn’t true, well then, none of it is.
As I neared the end of the path, a vision of Simon of Cyrene came to mind. Simon was the man compelled by the Romans to help carry the cross of Jesus. He was pulled from the sidelines observing, and took action by positioning himself under the cross with Jesus leading the way. I’ve heard many a reflection on this encounter—usually pointing to the theme of discipleship, stewardship, and helping others carry their burden. But, for the first time, a different image came to mind. This time it was not Jesus asking me to go out and help carry the load of another, but very specifically, He was inviting me to help carry His. How could I not step in and help Jesus carry what was meant for me? How could I not suffer under the weight of my cross when He already did? How could I not offer to share in the suffering when I am the one who caused it in the first place? This image completely changed my perspective. What looked impossible to carry only moments ago now looked like a gift. A walk that began in anxiety and doubt was now completed in confidence.
If your confidence in yourself is stronger than your confidence in God, ask yourself: What path of obedience is God calling me to that I am afraid of? Then offer up your need to understand. Say, “Here you go, Jesus. Here is my heart. It is weak and it is imperfect, and sometimes, it is as hard as my dead guinea pig. But here ya’ go, it is all yours.” Make no mistake. This is not giving up hope. This is saying, “I love you so much that I am willing to say “yes” to whatever you choose because you choose from an eternal perspective, and you always choose what is good.” This is how we become like children. This is how we remain confident when the storms of life rock the boat. This is how, compelled by love, we get off the sidelines and take action, positioning ourselves under the cross and walking the path of obedience with Jesus leading the way.
“What is my calling?”
Ever ask yourself that?
If I were to make a list of all of the callings I tried on and wore for a season; gymnast, actress, singer, personal shopper, and cake designer, would be just some of the hats you would find in my closet. And for years I believed that these hats, tried and tossed, represented failure. Just an embarrassing list of wrong numbers and missed calls.
Where I learned that my calling in life was going to be something I sought after, achieved, and then only had to sustain, I don't know. But we all do this, don't we? We choose our calling and give it a deadline. We plan the age we will be married, number of children we will have, the job we will be offered, the house we will own, we even plan the dog. And if any of these goals are not met by a certain age, we fall into a pit of despair. And while there, we invite the devil over for chips and salsa, and together we look at everyone else who has achieved their goals, we search up every friend we've ever had who has found their calling, husband, and dream job, and we keep on looking and eating and comparing until the chip bag is empty and the salsa jar licked clean and we can hardly stand the nothing we have amounted to and so we go on and open a bottle of wine or a take a spoon to a carton of Cherry Garcia while standing in front of the freezer, because the devil promises it will make us feel better and because I mean, really, at this point, the only calling God has for us is clearly not coming from Him, but from Ben & Jerry's!
Oh, sweet Lord, have mercy on me and my run on sentences. This hits close to home, is all, and I am just so fired up.
Why? Because of the insane pressure. Have you felt it? Seen it? It is so thick you can dip your tortilla chip in it; the world and its relentless preoccupation to know your calling. And not just know it, but attain it. Right now. If you have ever gone through the college application process with your child, you have witnessed this firsthand. If you are a college student, or fresh out of the dorm, I will bet you are experiencing the anxiety of “not knowing” this very moment. I feel for you. I really do. My stomach twists and tightens every time someone asks my child, “What do you want to do?” My guess? They want to run far away from you and that question. Because they do not know the answer. And not knowing scares them.
The struggle to know your calling is more than real. It is terrifying. But it doesn't have to be.
If you struggle with knowing your calling, or are raising precious souls in search of where they are supposed to be, let me assure you, you are not alone. In fact, most of us have no idea what God is calling us to do. From the young girl with a new job in an unfamiliar town, to the new mom who just changed her 400th diaper, to the woman walking away from an unhealthy relationship and starting over, to the empty nester with, “now what?” echoing in her brain. You are in good company, sweet sisters, and exactly where you are meant to be. And I will tell you why. Actually, Saint Paul in Philippians 3:12-14, will tell you why.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Is it any wonder that the answer to our biggest life questions are always found in Scripture and never in an ice cream carton? Paul understood that while we hope and pray to arrive at our goal, the meat of our story is not in the grabbing hold of it, but in the pressing on and through to it. He assures us that while we may not yet have hold of it, the key is to quit worrying about the past, to show up for today, and to continue moving forward towards tomorrow. The prize will come, but it waits for us at the finish line, and there is more race to run. This stretch of road you are on? Good or bad, rough or smooth, it is your present calling. It matters. It is necessary. It is a piece of the crown. Don't worry about your timeline, and definitely don't worry about your friend's timeline. The prize is for who runs the race well, not who gets there first.
Listen up. I know you want to skip past the uphill miles and uncertain roads, and get to the good stuff. But here is the thing: this is the good stuff. The place you are in now? That is the spot you have been called to. It is just one of the many hats you will be called to try on, and whether you wear it forever or toss it after a year, God will use every single thread to weave it into your story and bring Him glory. Your prize is waiting for you at the finish line, and it is worth everything. Ignore the pressure to know, and press on in the unknowing. God knows your calling. And that is all you need to know.
With you in the struggle,
PS I have been making an effort to make Scripture my first go-to when in need of comfort, answers or encouragement...not the kitchen! I would love to know your Scripture go-tos. Email us and we will share it in our Instagram stories!