The heaviness and pounding in my chest was not something I had never experienced before. It comes and goes periodically, but when the pounding feels like everyone around me can see my heart beating out of my chest, I know I am not going to be able to turn away in disobedience and this time was no different.
God was beckoning me to full-time ministry. I don’t remember all of the details, but I can close my eyes and be right back in the room at the youth camp where our youth group gathered each night after the worship service to discuss the day. We were asked if any decisions had been made and as we went around the room I timidly shared my surrender to full-time ministry.
“The LORD said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:1-3
A Calling Without Specifics
Have you ever been there? Has God ever spoken to you and then seemingly left you? Our fellow believer Abram was in the same boat, and I’m thankful God has graciously given us other believers as examples to show us how to follow in such circumstances. Because the question is universal:
What do you do when God has spoken to you, and yet you can not see how or when His Word will be fulfilled?
There are three things we can learn from Abram as we wait for God’s calling to become more evident.
“So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated, and the people he had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan.” Genesis 12:4-5
God tells Abram to pick up and leave his homeland and head to a land He will show Abram. I don’t know about you, but the idea of packing everything and then taking off without a plan is just downright absurd to me. There must always be a plan. But, that is how our God works and the more ridiculous it seems, the more I remember I am not God.
So when God spoke, Abram obeyed. Abram did not question God at this point, he just followed.
We must remember that when the pounding in our chest becomes so overbearing, we must be willing to obey even if we have not been told exactly where we are going, how we are getting there, or who will go with us. But even in the obeying, we must be willing to do something else.
Build Altars (AKA Worship)
In the middle of traveling around to the land God was taking Abram, we see Abram not only obeying, but also worshipping. Take a look at the multiple acts of worship Abram did as he obeyed.
“Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘I will give this land to your offspring.” So he built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.” Genesis 12:7
“From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. He built an altar to Yahweh there, and he called on the name of Yahweh.” Genesis 12:8
“He went by stages from the Negev to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly been, to the site where he had built the altar. And Abram called on the name of Yahweh there.” Genesis 13:3-4
“So Abram moved his tent and went to live near the oaks of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.” Genesis 13:18
Building altars keeps our minds on God’s character. When we stay busy worshipping God instead of working on how to carry out what He has told us, we rest and are secure. But as the time goes on and we do not see God’s Word being fulfilled, doubts begin to arise, and we have the choice to move into the next act of faith while we wait on God.
“After these events, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great.
But Abram said, Lord God, what can You give me, since I am childless and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram continued, “Look, You have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.” Genesis 15:1-2
When doubts begin to set in, our natural tendency is to question God. As Satan tempted Eve in the garden, “Did God really say? (Genesis 3:1),” so we too begin to wonder whether or not God spoke to us and what He spoke was true.
Our God is big enough to handle our questions, and when Abram started to question God, God spoke graciously and patiently. When God spoke, Abram did not respond with bitterness, but with belief.
“Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” Genesis 15:6
As I entered my senior year surrendered to full-time ministry, I had no clue what it meant. I knew it was not going to be in the music field although I loved music and participated in the youth choirs and took piano lessons. I assumed it would probably be as a pastor’s wife or maybe missions, but didn’t know. I went about my studies and continued to seek the Lord daily in my time with Him.
Following high school and obtaining my associate’s degree at Lone Star, I headed off to bearkat country (Sam Houston State) with the calling to full-time ministry always in the back of my mind. Working, studying, and having a grand time I came to the close of my college career with a bachelor’s degree, no Mrs. degree and still no specific direction regarding the calling God had placed on my life. Towards the end of my college career I had even spent a whole summer serving as a summer missionary in California, but yet no official word or instruction from the Lord.
I left college and went straight into the technical writing field and then into teaching. I met my future husband who was not in the ministry field nor considering it. We married and began our family. It wasn’t until three years into our marriage that God placed the calling on my husband’s life to full-time ministry.
It is hard to know you have been called to something and not see immediate results. I could have spent those ten years from the time God had placed a calling on my heart questioning and being obsessed with how and when God was going to fulfill His Word. While there were times of doubt and questioning, the times I spent resting in what He had me doing at that appointed moment, increased my faith and reliance on the character of God.
Where are you? Has God called you or spoken to you regarding an issue and then seemingly left you? Have you proceeded to walk in obedience to His Word through worship and belief or have you tried to carry out His plan in your strength?
Let me encourage you to walk in the lessons from Abram.
It is always worth it!!