“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” — Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
For as long as I can remember, writing has been a passion of mine. I have the first book I wrote tucked away in my cedar chest, a story about a girl believing in Santa Claus. I pursued degrees in school with a heavy emphasis on research and writing because I enjoyed it. In college, I loved going to the library with my notecards and doing research for a paper. I never felt a strong desire to work on a team or to lead a project; I’d be much happier behind the scenes, silently researching and writing by myself. I’ll be the first to admit I am not the best writer or the most creative writer. I’m learning that we don’t have to be the best to be successful, especially if God has given us a passion we can use. He didn’t create us to be perfect. He knows we aren’t and loves us despite our imperfections and daily failings. He does want us to realize our God-given talents, though, and use them to promote His will.
When I first read Nehemiah, I was on bed rest. My goal had been to read the entire Old Testament before the birth of Caitlin. Reading and studying are incredibly different actions. I read through Nehemiah in a day. Now that I am studying Nehemiah (both as a Bible study through my Women’s Group and our church sermon series), I am falling in love with this book. God has opened my eyes and placed upon my heart a burden. I’ve prayed throughout this study for God to use me, and I am slowly realizing His plan for me. It’s not something that I am ready to share, although I want to scream it out. I only need God’s approval and I’m working on His timeline. Sunday’s sermon spoke to me in that I need to further pray and plan before I am able to take action on this burden.
I will say that I almost missed what God wants me to do because it seems so…ordinary. Kelly Minter speaks often about her mission trips and how the book of Nehemiah placed it on her heart to help the poor. That’s an extraordinary burden. We all, however, have different roles in God’s great plan. We may not all be called to participate in mission trips or to act out God’s will on an international level (although I will say, I do feel an urge to do a mission trip – this is something that I want to do with my kids when they are older). Maybe you aren’t sure what your burden is. I wasn’t, and I am still questioning how this will play out. Listen to your heart, hear what your gut instinct tells you when asked the question “what makes you weep” (Nehemiah 1:4). Perhaps God has already placed this on your heart, but it seems so ordinary that you have written it off. Revisit that, pray about it. See what God leads you to do. What starts out ordinary may very well turn extraordinary, without you even realizing it. Give it to God and let him have control.
When you start to see God working in your life, you realize He didn’t just start having a presence when you started seeking it. He’s always been there, preparing you and encouraging you – even if you didn’t welcome Him. I witnessed this with my last pregnancy and delivery and now I am seeing it in other aspects of my life. Unanswered prayers, having a passion even though I don’t feel good enough for it, placing people in my life for very specific reasons — it’s God at work now, and it’s been God at work all my life. You may not see it yet, but when you do there’s no turning back. You may put off what He’s calling you to do, you may not think you are the right person or that you aren’t good enough for His calling, but you will see how He has worked and proven His presence in your life and you’ll follow that burden He placed on your heart.
It has been nearly three years since I had the overwhelming urge to start sharing my testimonies through a blog. It’s only been in the past seven months that I have been dedicated to writing my book and even more recently to begin blogging more about how God is active in my daily life. It’s a journey! With my upcoming conference, I hope to learn more. God calls us, and then we spend time preparing. We learn through the Old Testament stories the various ways God calls people to move, but then they also spend some time waiting and preparing. Whatever you feel God is calling you do do, know it’s normal to feel like you aren’t qualified. God will qualify you, He will refine you. I’m still in this period, nearly three years later. It’s fun to look back and see where it all started!