For many of you, discovering God’s purpose for your life may have been very straightforward. You heard God’s voice clearly, you wrote down the vision and the team and resources you required were at your beck and call. You can look back now at how much God has accomplished over the years in and through you. You are optimistic about a greater future to fulfil God’s plan for your life.
But this clear-cut summary is unfortunately not very common for the rest of us. Our walk with God has been about learning to walk by faith, one day at a time. Many people think that the opposite of faith is fear or doubt. But it is not. The opposite of faith is certainty.
When you can’t see ahead into the future, when you don’t have it all sorted out but often wonder what God is up to or what next might happen, then you’re in good company. Many of those God has used and continues to use are committed to walking with Him by faith.
“Walking by faith is simply obeying God’s instructions without asking questions. It is more of a journey than arriving at a destination.”
You may have heard or learnt some sophisticated definition of faith. But walking by faith is simply obeying God’s instructions without asking questions. It’s about staying away from analyzing all the variables involved and refusing to explore other alternatives when following God no longer seems attractive or convenient.
Walking with God is more of a journey than arriving at a destination. Not many of us are truly walking by faith. But that’s the tall order God expects of everyone who desires to walk with Him. And it’s easy to go through life ‘safe’, living within our comfort zones and exploring only what we’ve seen others do or tried to do.
But each of us is a unique individual with a unique purpose heading somewhere unique. We shouldn’t let what hasn’t been done before determine what God can do in and through us. If we desire to walk with God, we must not be held back by the lies of the enemy or the myopic opinions of others.
Abraham, a Bible character, is a great example of someone who discovered God’s purpose by stepping out by faith. He wasn’t a Christian; he had attended no church events and didn’t even know if God existed. He worshipped idols, which he assumed were the true God. His parents were not clerics; he never listened to any sermon preached about faith; he had never even met God before.
But one day, Abraham heard God calling him to leave his family and move to a new location in addition to the promise of a new thing God wanted to do through him and his new family.
Why did Abraham agree to move? Why did he believe in a God he had barely met? Did he move immediately after God spoke to him or was there some hesitation? He had worshipped many idols that never spoke. But one day, he heard another God speak and this wasn’t a normal experience.
Your life never remains the same after you hear from God. Discovering God’s purpose for your life begins with a personal encounter with Him. God spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, He spoke to Moses through a burning bush and we see the same pattern with Abraham’s encounter.
My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. (John 10.27). If we are unable to hear God clearly, we may not have a relationship with Him. And we can’t and won’t commit to following God till we are convinced that we have heard His voice.
Abraham packed up and moved away from his family. Everyone thought that he must have lost his mind by claiming that he had heard God speak to him. Who commits to begin a journey to move to an unknown destination unless they are out of their mind or have received an assurance from God?
Abraham’s army of 318 servants and their families must have reluctantly followed him only because their pay cheque was at stake; it was not necessarily because they believed in his God. Like Abraham, your friends and family may never fully understand why you walked away from what was stable, secure and promising.
“Faith in God is also faith in His timing. God’s not looking for perfect people but those who are willing, available and obedient.”
Only you and God know why you did and what the future holds. But every new day brings more peace, satisfaction and purpose because you are in the centre of God’s will and not chasing after temporal things.
But God didn’t disclose His entire plan to Abraham at once. Each new promise to Abraham was a response to his obedience. Many times, we want to see the big picture or have all our questions answered before we take our first step. But could it be that God is waiting on us while we claim to be waiting on Him? While we wait for the perfect conditions to step out by faith, we might fail to see all the opportunities to make a positive impact in this world.
If we decide to step out by faith with God, let’s expect our faith in God to be tested.
God promised Abraham that he would have a son, but God didn’t tell him that he would wait for almost twenty-five years to hear the cry of this promised son. Faith in God is also faith in His timing. When things don’t go as planned, it’s easy to think that following God isn’t worth it. Fear and doubt continue to rob so many of us of the chance to lay hold of God’s plan for our lives.
If we begin this journey by faith, we must continue by faith and finish strong. Abraham believed God until his wife became impatient. A quarter of a century was quite a long time to wait. She could no longer endure the shame and ridicule from her girlfriends or the servants’ wives who had their own kids who were growing up and moving to college.
We can’t claim to step out by faith and still be exploring alternatives to God’s plan simply because we are impatient, or when God’s plan is different from what we expected. You can’t give into pressure from friends and family to abandon where God’s taking you. Abraham gave in to such pressures with consequences that are reverberating today. Many centuries later, the descendants of his two sons, have known no true and lasting peace. When we run ahead of God, we will pay a huge price for our impatience.
When we finally step out by faith, it won’t be long before the lies of the enemy pour in. The enemy will tell us that we are not qualified to be chosen by God; he will remind us about our past and how we don’t have all that is required to accomplish what God wants us to do.
But God’s not looking for perfect people. We have no clue how much God can do through a vessel who is willing and available. The Bible is full of amazing stories of ordinary people who accomplished extraordinary and supernatural exploits, not because they were the best of the lot but because they were simply willing, available and obedient.
God’s purpose for Abraham wasn’t about him; God wanted to raise a new tribe. His plan wasn’t only about giving Abraham just a son and lots of riches; it was about God’s plan to redeem the world from the bondage of sin and death.
God’s purpose for you isn’t about you or your comfort. His plan for you is part of the eternal agenda He had before He sent you to earth. Your arrival on earth was part of that ultimate plan, your assignment is only a piece of the story God’s been writing for generations. It’s time we took our eyes off ourselves and began to see things from God’s perspective.
What if Abraham was unwilling to depart as God commanded Him? Would God have chosen someone else? Someone’s destiny is dependent on our obedience. And for Abraham, the entire world was literally depending on his obedience to God.
Abraham was part of a long line of men and women God chose across the generations. Sometimes, we think God’s purpose for our lives begins and ends with us. It’s only in hindsight that we are able connect the dots to see what God’s been up to all along.
You may be the first person that God’s choosing to do something that’s never been done before. Or perhaps you are one of the many people to build upon the foundations others have laid. You may just be the final link in the story God’s been writing.
Whatever God chooses to do in and through you isn’t about you. God’s not asked us to be famous or draw any attention to ourselves. Rather, He is expecting us to be faithful and keep our eyes on Him. It is a privilege to partner with God to accomplish His will on earth.
After Isaac was born, God asked Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice. Abraham did not hesitate to obey God. By faith, Abraham responded to his son’s curious question about the sacrifice: God will provide.
When you’ve walked with God long enough, nothing is too great a sacrifice if given to God. God may ask you to sacrifice even the certain future you think you have. He’s simply checking out your heart: Are you truly following Him because you fear and love God or are you following Him because of the things He is doing for you and through you?
Then, the closer Abraham walked with God, the farther away he was from some people. First, it was his family and friends in Ur. Then, it was Hagar and Ishmael. Sending them away with only a bottle of water and a morsel of bread must have caused him considerable distress. But obeying God was now Abraham’s priority.
Then, he had to contend with the opinions of his wife. Eventually, Abraham left Sarah behind as he walked with Isaac to Mount Moriah early that morning to ‘sacrifice’ Isaac. Next, he had to deal with his servants. Abraham asked them if they would remain at the bottom of the mountain as their service was no longer required up the mountain.
Finally, Abraham had to separate himself from Lot. There was nothing wrong with Lot. It was his herdsmen and Abraham’s who always got into fights about who got what grazing area. Lot was an orphan and Abraham had become his surrogate father.
One time, when Lot was captured by invading armies, Abraham raced with his own army to secure his nephew’s release. God watched and waited as Abraham spent so much time, effort and resources engaged in activities that were never part of His plan for Abraham.
Until Abraham and Lot parted ways, God couldn’t move to the other things He had in store for Abraham. As long as we hold on to certain people that are getting in the way of our calling, we won’t be able to lay hold of all God has in store.
Abraham made lots of movements but without progress. There might be nothing wrong with these old friends, acquaintances or colleagues; your planes are just heading in different directions and it’s time to move on and pursue a higher purpose.
Like Abraham, every step away from certain people will be a step closer to consecrating ourselves to God. We can’t afford to waste our precious lives with people who are neither adding value nor taking us closer to fulfilling God’s plan for us.
How sorely disappointed we will be when we stand before God on the last day and find out that we have missed out on His reward for us because we traded the assignment He entrusted to us for some relationships we deemed important but they were not.
Has God been asking you to step out by faith, but you’ve been wrestling with giving up the familiar and comfortable zone you are in for an uncertainty? Everything God has in store for us is on the other side of our fears. If God who knows the end from the beginning is calling you to uncharted territories, He has gone ahead of you and will make the crooked paths straight. Put your hands safely in His and let Him lead you.
“What a tragedy to stand before God someday with nothing to show for all His investments in us because we refused to launch out into the deep.”
May the cry of your heart be: I want to walk with Jesus Christ all the days of my life on earth. I want to give Him complete control of my body and my soul. I want to learn to speak to Him, to pray to Him, confess my sin to Him, open my life and let Him in. His joy will then be mine. I want to learn to read His word, for this is how I know I can live my life to please Him, in holiness. I want to learn to speak of Him. My life must show that He lives in me; my deeds, my thoughts, my words must speak, all of His love for me. O Holy Spirit of the Lord, enter now into this heart of mine, take full control of my selfish will and make me wholly Thine. (C Simmonds).
What a tragedy it will be, to stand before God someday and have nothing to show for all His investments in us because we remained in our comfort zones and refused to launch out into the deep.