Several years ago, I was running from my calling, living in sin and making some pretty dumb decisions. My life started to spiral out of control. I started to lose things and people that I wanted to hang onto, but I couldn’t stop the madness. When my first wife told me she was leaving me, it was a wake up call. Up to that moment, I always felt like I could get back to where I needed to be in my life, but when that happened, I felt like I had even lost the calling of God on my life. It was too much for me to have lost that too. Some time later, I explained to a friend how I had lost the calling of God on my life and my purpose. He asked, “Who do you think you are that you have the power to revoke God’s purpose and calling on your life?”
I wonder if David felt the same way after he had his affair with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. Maybe Peter did too after he denied Jesus three times. I can hear him beating himself up saying, “You we’re going to be the rock that Jesus built His Church on. You blew it!” Yet, despite both of their failures, and public ones at that, God continued to use them. David and Bathsheba later had a son they named Solomon. He became Israel’s next king and was the wisest person to ever live. Peter, after being restored by Jesus, went on to lead the Early Church and turn the world upside down. Despite their failures, God never removed their calling or purpose.
Romans 11:29 says, “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn” (NLT). To me, that’s pretty clear that no matter what I’ve done, God designed me with a purpose and no matter what I do, He’s not going to withdraw it. If you’ve been hearing that voice inside telling you that it’s too late or you’ve done too much for God to ever use you, combat it with this verse. God uses our failures and humanity in our calling. He has a way of using them to humble us, to make us approachable and as a testimony to others that God can use or save anyone. No one is beyond His love or ability to forgive. No one is beyond His ability to use. You and I lack the power to revoke God’s calling though we may run from it for a lifetime. God’s plan for you is still in place. Quit running from it or believing the lie that you’re damaged goods. Gods not done with you yet.
I’m a firm believer that root of a lot of sin is selfishness. We are constantly trying to repair our own inner brokenness, but we do it at the expense of doing things God’s way. Think back to the Garden of Eden. God planted a garden full of trees and put one in the middle that they could not eat from. Adam and Eve’s desire to be the creator rather than the creation caused them to eat of that fruit. It was their own selfish desire to do things their way rather than God’s way that caused them to fall for the temptation. They knew what the right thing to do was, but they gave in to that selfishness. The problem is, the devil still uses our selfishness to draw us into sin and away from God.
Think about each person in the Bible and how they sinned, and you will almost always find selfishness at the root. David was selfish and wanted Bathsheba rather than the women he was already married to. Jonah didn’t like the people of Nineveh, so he went in the opposite direction of where God was sending him. Cain killed his brother because he didn’t like that God approved of his offering better. The list goes on and on of how we are drawn away by our own selfishness into sin. However, the other side of the coin is that God has a plan that is better than our own. If we will follow it, instead of our own selfish desires, He will prosper us.
Proverbs 28:25 says, “Selfishness only causes trouble. You are much better off to trust the Lord” (GNT). When we do things our way, instead of God’s, we end up more broken than before. The great news is that we don’t have to live life giving in to our brokenness. We can choose the healing that comes from doing things God’s way. You don’t have to understand why He wants you to do something in order to obey. Faith is trusting His plan and His way, instead of yours, even when you don’t understand. When we get better at that, we will begin to live the life we were created to live. The better we understand our own brokenness, the better we will understand where we are tempted to do things selfishly. Don’t fall for the trap. Choose to trust God’s way.
I remember as a senior in high school, my English teacher had us write a research paper on our chosen field of profession. We had to interview at least two people in that profession, discuss the educational requirements and career path. Even though I wrote it all out, I still found myself lost after high school. I felt like it was just going to happen without my putting in the work. I wanted to accomplish God’s plan for my life and to walk in His path for me, but I wasn’t moving in any direction. I found that it’s hard to follow a path and get direction if you’re standing still.
After David was anointed king, he didn’t get to go to the palace. He went back to the hills to watch the sheep. He took his brothers food while they were at war. He played the harp for the current king. Even though God didn’t take him to the palace right away, he continued moving and doing things that prepared him to be king. He understood that God had a plan, and for that plan to be executed, he couldn’t just sit around and wait for it to just happen. As he did things, God put him in situations that grew him and showed his strengths as a leader.
If you feel like you’re wandering or if you’re just waiting for God to move and place you in position, pray what David prayed in Psalm 25:4. He wrote, “Lord, direct me throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you” (TPT). God will direct you, but you have to be moving. I believe God has created you with a specific plan in mind, but it won’t just happen. You need to invest time, energy and money into the areas He’s directed you to, and you need to be ready to face any giant in your way. God’s not finished with your journey yet, nor has He given up on you. Start today down His path and He will direct you.
I’ve got a friend who doesn’t like to go to the doctor. He says, “Every time I go, they find something wrong.” Isn’t that the point? If there’s something wrong, wouldn’t you want to know about it? For some people, if the problem isn’t exposed, it doesn’t exist. So if they don’t go to doctor and have the tests run, they aren’t really sick. That’s the wrong way to think about things. If you have a sickness and there’s a cure, wouldn’t you want that sickness exposed so the disease doesn’t run its course?
To some of you, what I just described sounds crazy. Others of you can identify with it. Whichever side you’re on, the truth is that many of us think the way my friend does when it comes to sin in our lives. We don’t want to shed light on it or expose it, much less have a test run to prove it exists in our body. If there’s something wrong spiritually with you, wouldn’t you want to know about it? Wouldn’t you want to get it cured?
David fell into the group that wanted to go to the doctor often and have tests run to make sure nothing was wrong. In Psalm 26:2 he prayed, “Examine me, GOD, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out” (MSG). He wasn’t afraid to have God shine His light into every dark corner of his life. He knew that sin likes to lay hidden in our lives unexposed. It tells us to pretend we are perfect and nothing is wrong. The truth is that all of us are infected with sin, and the way we rid ourselves of it is to expose it to the light of God’s Word.
If we truly want to live the lives God has called us to, we can’t be afraid to go to The Doctor and have Him test our lives. God will not condemn us for having Him expose our sins. Instead, He will be faithful to forgive us and to lead us down His paths. We can’t be afraid that He will find something wrong with us or what others will think. There’s a cure for the sin that’s holding us back and it’s free. Jesus already paid the price for our sin and has written out the prescription. Ask God today to examine you so you can be fit inside and out.
When I was a young kid, my best friend David and I would hatch plans to do things. Many times that required us to stay the night at each other’s houses so we could plan it deep into the night. On my way home, I would always plan to ask my mom. I knew that if I asked her, she would say, “Yes.” I would practice how I would ask her as I crossed the street. When I would walk in the house, I’d yell out, “Mom?” When she answered, I had the confidence to go ask because I knew I had a great chance of staying the night with David.
I wonder how much those years formed how I approach God. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got to hatch a plan to get Him to answer and give me what I want. Like a kid, I practice over and over how to ask for the thing I want. Should I ask for it this way or that way? Which way will get God to say, “Yes”? Ultimately I go to Him in prayer knowing He hears me, and I ask for what I want hoping He’ll agree it’s what’s best for me. Either way, I know He hears my prayer and will answer one way or the other.
Psalm 17 is a prayer of David. He was one who was constantly praying and asking God for things. I’m sure his mind was constantly hatching ideas too. He had the same faith in asking God for things as I did approaching my mother. In verse 6 he wrote, “I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray” (NLT). He had the confidence that not only would God listen, but also that God would answer.
That’s the same confidence you and I need to have in our prayers. We pray because we believe God hears us. But do we ask for things with the confidence that He will answer? I was once told that God’s “no” is just as good as His “yes”. We may not like hearing the no’s, but when He gives them, they are what’s in His perfect will. Don’t be afraid to ask God for something because you’re afraid His answer will be a “no”. Have confidence that He will answer and that His answer will always be His perfect will for your life.
When my brothers and I were younger, there were times when we rough housed. One time, I broke something valuable, but my mom thought it was my brother who broke it. Without questioning anyone, she whipped him. I felt bad, but at the same time, I didn’t want to get whipped. My guilt began to eat at me. Finally, I confessed because the feeling if guilt was too much. I took an extra whipping for letting my brother take the punishment, but at least my feelings of guilt were gone.
Feeling guilty can be very powerful and affect so many areas of our life. Either we confess and deal with the consequences or it eats us up inside. It can consume our thoughts and affect how we live. I like to watch “The First 48”, which is a reality show that follows the police in the first 48 hour of a murder investigation. When they capture the person, they often tell them, “If you’ll confess, you’ll feel better.” Many of them do confess with tears running down their face. They still have to face their consequences, but there’s a release in that moment.
Becoming a Christian is a lot like that. We confess our sins to God and He releases us from the eternal consequences of our guilt. We usually have to face earthly consequences for our actions, but our eternal guilt is gone. Those feelings of guilt fade away because we’ve been forgiven when we confess. God removed our guilt and says, “Your eternal penalty was paid for by my Son. He paid the price for your actions.”
In Psalm 32:1-2, David wrote, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!” (NLT) God values our honesty with Him and through our honest confessions, forgiveness is given. David understood the joy of being released from the guilt of sin. He understood that God values our honesty with Him. He knows we’ve messed up. He knows we’re guilty. He loves us enough that He’s prepaid for our guilt and is waiting for us to admit it. Don’t carry your guilt anymore. Confess it to God and find that joy you’re missing.
To abandon someone is to quit supporting them or to give up on them. If you’ve ever been through some of life’s toughest circumstances, you know what it’s like to be abandoned by some of your family or friends. You find out that there are people in your life that you can count on, and there are people that you can’t. When you’re looking for advice, a place to regroup, or just a shelter from the storm, some people that you seek out will abandon you. Some of the ones who you thought would support you through thick and thin give up on you.
David was a person who knew a thing or two about being abandoned. He was forgotten by his father, disrespected by his brothers, shamed by his wife, chased by the king, and dishonored by his son. The people in his life that he should have been able to count on, turned their backs on him at some point in his life. He knew a thing or two about rock bottom. He looked for those he could count on in times of trouble.
In all of his searching, there was one who never abandoned him. God. David wasn’t a perfect man either. He cheated on his wife, had a man murdered, and did some unthinkable things. Yet when he sought after God, he knew that no matter what he had done, God would not abandon him. He knew that there was nothing he had done that God couldn’t or wouldn’t forgive. When others gave up on him, God never did. In fact, God said he was a man after His own heart.
You may have walked David’s shoes. Maybe you’ve been abandoned by those who love you or you’ve abandoned the things you know are right. Either way, if you will seek God, He won’t abandon you. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know you, Lord, will trust you; you do not abandon anyone who comes to you” (GNT). It doesn’t matter what’s been done to you or what you’ve done to others, you can find shelter, hope, and forgiveness in God when you seek Him out.
Do you remember the moment you began to appreciate what your parents had done for you, and you wanted to do something for them to show it? A child never really knows or understands the sacrifices their parents make for them. They don’t know how many things their parents gave up of what they wanted to do so the child could do what they wanted. Parents instinctively love their children and do things for them not expecting anything in return. When the child begins to understand all their parents have done, it’s usually when they’re an adult.
That mark of maturity can also be seen in a spiritual sense. One of the signs of spiritual maturity is when you no longer see God as a genie in the sky whose job it is to give you what you want and pray for. When He moves from just your provider in your life to all the other things He wants to be, you begin to have a deeper understanding of who He is. God’s desire for us is to move into spiritual maturity.
One night as David was in his palace, and I imagine he was thinking of how far he had come since tending the sheep. I’m sure as he looked the ceiling, he remembered how many times before he was out in the elements. As he thought about these things, another thought came to him. So in II Samuel 7:2, he went to the prophet Nathan and said, “Here I am living in a house built of cedar, but God’s Covenant Box is kept in a tent!” (GNT) David had an aha moment that night. He decided that he wanted to do something for God instead of asking Him for something.
Imagine that. It’s no wonder David was known as a man after God’s own heart. He was deeply flawed, yet he was mature enough to know God beyond the surface level. He wasn’t scared to dive into the heart of God to know who He is, nor should we be. God will reveal Himself to each of us to the extent we are willing to spend time with Him. You will find that the closer you get to the heart of God, the more your life will change to reflect His holiness. Spiritual maturity is possible, but it will take you getting your eyes off yourself and onto Him.
Have you ever felt like you were meant for more than you’re doing right now? Does it feel like God has been ignoring you or isn’t keeping His promise to you? It’s hard to wait for God to put you where He promised to place you. It’s even more difficult to feel stuck in the mundane when you know there’s more to what God has promised to do in your life. So what do you do? Will you give up on your calling? Will you try to force your way into it by making things happen yourself? Or will you wait patiently?
When I think of giving up on my calling, I’m reminded of the Prodigal Son. He was tired of waiting for his inheritance. He didn’t think the day would come when he could be in charge of his father’s household. So he did the unthinkable. He asked for his inheritance and decided to show his father he was capable on his own. After he squandered his inheritance, he had too much pride to go to his father to admit he wasn’t ready. After a lot of time slopping hogs and living destitute, he made his way back to his father’s house.
When I think of trying to force my way into my calling, I think of Abraham. God had called him to be the father of many nations with descendants as numerous as the stars. After 25 years, he gave up and decided that he would fulfill it himself. He took his wife’s maid and got her pregnant. God revisited him to remind him the promise was going to come through his wife. Because he rushed things, he created an Achilles Heel for his descendants that remains to this day.
When I think of waiting patiently, I think of David. God called him to be king while he was tending sheep. David understood that he wasn’t ready to fulfill his calling even though he had been called. He looked at where he was and saw that God could use his current situation to help him be better at his calling. Even though the fulfillment of his calling was many years later, he stayed faithful where he was until the right time came.
Each of us have one of these three choices in our lives. I personally believe God is getting us ready for our calling in the mundane. Psalm 78:70-72 says, “He chose his servant David; he took him from the pastures, where he looked after his flocks, and he made him king of Israel, the shepherd of the people of God. David took care of them with unselfish devotion and led them with skill” (GNT). The skills David learned while watching sheep gave him the skill to be the best at his calling. What skills are you learning now that will help to fulfill yours? The right choice is to wait patiently for God to move. Just keep tending sheep in the mean time.
A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, go past the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, and go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life will be like when they become a Christian.
They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems, or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. Their perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to cast those troubles on.
Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.
That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength, and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.