For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Policeman. Firefighter. Princess. Teacher. Ninja Turtle. Veterinarian. Ballerina. Doctor. Batman.
One of these might have been your answer as a young child, when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question rings in our soul, from the moment we become aware of the world around us. The desire is within all children. They dream, fantasize, and wonder – maybe about being a strong and invincible superhero – maybe about being a beautiful princess with a golden dress.
Then children get a little older, entering in adolescence, and they start asking bigger questions. What difference will I make when I grow up? What is the purpose of my life? What impact will I make? What can I do to make my life important? Teenagers think about college and what future career to choose, as we bombard them with life-altering questions when they are just 16 years old. We expect this young adult to look at their strengths and weaknesses, and, as if they are deciphering some code God hid within them, they should be able to decide what career path to take.
And then we become adults. We look around us, at our home and family and occupation. Maybe some us feel like we missed the boat, or took the wrong boat, or paddled around in circles. Maybe we feel that we have arrived, or that we will never arrive. Whatever our answer, the question remains the same:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
“Am I where I am supposed to be?”
“Am I doing what God created me to do?”
“I just want to know I’m in the right place.”
We all fear the same thing: being on our deathbed with regrets or unfinished business. Why do you think we all want our life to count? Why do you think we all long to be a part of something great? Because the good Lord and Creator wove this desire into our very being. He put the need to answer this question within each of us…so that He may be the answer to our question!
During our high school years, before we met each other, my husband and I were both called by God into the ministry. And we both had the same conversation with the Lord…
Us —- “Okay God, you are telling me you want me to work in ministry. So what do you want me to do?”
God —- “Serve in My kingdom.”
Us —- “Ya, I got that. What do you want me to do?”
God —- “Lead my people and make disciples.”
Us —- “Ya, I got that. But, again, what should I do?”
God —- “Do whatever I tell you to do.”
Us —- “And what are you telling me to do?”
God —- “Go and make disciple.”
Us —- “Go where?”
God —- “Wherever I tell you.”
Well, this was just too broad for us. Too open to possibilities. Too scary. So, we looked within ourselves and saw what we were good at, what our strengths and weaknesses were, and drew our own conclusions. My husband loves to sing and play the guitar and he has a heart for youth ministry – so his box is worship and youth. I love to write and minister to women and young ladies – so my box is womens ministry. Now, before I continue, let me say this. The strengths and weaknesses and desires and preferences we all have are the parts of us, intentionally designed by God, to make us the unique masterpiece we are. And we have each been designed to play a specific and beautiful role in the kingdom of God. We are not all able to lead a children’s ministry at a church. Only some of us are able to study and learn and become a doctor. Only some of us have the strength and passion to be a firefighter. What I am NOT saying is that we can all be all things and we should not put ourselves in a box. Rather, what I AM saying is that we should not put God in a box.
1 Corinthians 12:1-39
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits…For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body…Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?…And I will show you a still more excellent way.”
When we are so desperate to name our calling, in order to give us more security and limit the scary, unknown possibilities, we actually end up limiting God. And we limit our vision and our perspective of what God can do in us and through us. We put God in a box. “No, God, I’m not supposed to pray with this woman, because you have called me to children. I’ll do whatever you ask me to do for children. But if you ask me to share your love and gospel with this woman, well that is outside of my calling.” Maybe while we are in children’s ministry, God is equipping us to work in women’s ministry. But we are not willing to submit to His leading, because it doesn’t fit our box. I have heard beautiful stories of people who retire from 30+ years in a career, and find new life and excitement doing something completely different. God is not limited to a boxed idea of possibilities!
My friend, if God is leading you do something, anything, then that is within your calling. He may tell you to do something that you never thought of, or planned for, or dreamed of. Will we say no because we believe, in our limited human view of life – that it is outside of our calling? Because saying “whatever You want, Lord,” is just too scary and too vague and too broad? How do we just go, without a plan? How do we provide for our family? How do we buy a home and create security and safety for our children? My friend, our promise is in the Word of God…
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
That is our promise. If our focus is set on obeying and following God, and not our earthly security, then He will be our security and we will have everything we need. What would our life look like if, instead of trying to label our calling, we said, “God, my calling is to do whatever You tell me to do.”?
Where are you supposed to be? Where God tells you to go.
What are you supposed to do? Whatever God tells you to do.
Where should you serve? Where God tells you to serve.
Who should you serve? Whoever God tells you to serve.
Do you want to know what you were created for? I know…to glorify God, experience His love, and in response, love Him with your heart and soul and mind. Follow His leading, not your understanding. Be open to the scary, beautiful, wonderfully terrifying possibilities of God!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
We are the workmanship of God. He has already laid out the path He wills for you. Just lock your eyes on Him, study His Word, daily cultivate a relationship with Him, and walk in His ways. Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be willing to think outside the box. Be willing to say to God, “I WANT WHAT YOU WANT FOR ME TODAY. NOTHING MORE. NOTHING LESS.”