“For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2:10 NRSV
There are times in life when we run away from what God has appointed in our life, it is mostly because we do not trust God fully and we are wrapped with fear which the enemy uses for his benefit. The enemy tricks and tries to draw our attention in-order to fail us. There were so many women preachers who were afraid to step into the calling that God had placed in their life beca the enemy spoke lies into their lives. The history of women preachers in America, talks about the struggles and obstacles that women had to face because of gender, family, accusations of being ‘Jezebels’, self-doubt and shame. Maria Woodworth- Etter had written in her autobiography, ‘Several ministers whom I had never seen before told me, at different times, that God was calling me to the ministry, and that I would have to go. I said if I were a man I would love to work for Jesus.’ They told me I had work to do which no man could do….I said, “ O Lord! I cannot take Willie (her son) with me, nor can I leave him behind.” Then the Lord saw fit to take him out of the way; so he laid his hand on my darling little boy, and in a few days took him home to heaven.’
When God has placed a calling in an individual's life, I think it is best to obey immediately rather than waiting for multiple opportunities and going through consequences of disobedience. God is very jealous and He wants to be in the glory position in our lives and when I say God is jealous, that does not imply anything sinful in God. God is holy and He is jealous of His relationship with His people. We often worship things of the world, we worship our way into trouble instead of seeking the one worthy of worship. To worship our way out of trouble is to put God in a glorious position. In the Message version of James 4:4-6, it says, “You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” (James 4:4-6 MSG). It says ‘God is a fiercely jealous lover’, so if we want a relationship with God, if we want Him to work in our lives then we need to fully surrender and let Him lead. It says in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”(Proverbs 3:5-6 NRSV). We often fail to acknowledge Him and trust Him completely, but to build our trust in God we must get to know God better, we should dedicate time to get close to Him through reading the Bible and praying. We should be able to experience Him because He wants to be personally known.
Mrs. Woodworth- Etter had to lose five of her six children to realize the calling that God had placed in her life. After the death of her five children, Ms. Woodworth – Etter said ‘And now the great desire of my heart was to work for Jesus’. I believe that she could have avoided those losses if she had heeded God's call immediately, and this is why I often emphasize on the importance of the spirit of discernment. I believe that every believer of Christ should ask and receive the gift of discernment. To choose and obey the calling that God has placed in our life is so important that each one of us should actively use the gift of discernment in our daily life. The Bible says in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9 NRSV). We should be able to trust God fully and acknowledge that His ways are so much better than ours. We need to take the lower seat, be humble and surrender completely, knowing and stepping in faith that He knows and has the best in store for us. It takes faith to walk along the path that God has called us to walk.
Sometimes it is our pride that does not allow us to obey God’s calling, we think we know better and this attitude is condemned by God. We need to have an understanding that God has called us for greater work and hence the struggles are greater too. God does not promise a life of joy and happiness, (“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 NRSV) He rather wants us to take up our cross and follow Him. The enemy is in constant work to stop us from reaching our destiny or our calling, he uses the weapon of fear. In Mrs.Woodworth’s life, the enemy spoke lies to her using her children as an excuse, I mean he could have used anything but he knew she loved her children more than anything in this world. The enemy used her children as a tool to stop her from attending to God’s call sooner. The spirit of fear is too strong that it could ruin our lives and decisions by questioning the plans of God. The enemy comes unnoticed and we always have to be on our guard because when we trust and start walking in the ways of God, we have to be focused on God and also to fight against the enemy. I would like to conclude by quoting Romans 12:11-13, “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” (Romans 12:11-13 NRSV). God has placed a calling on each of our lives, let us fully submit and walk in our calling with zeal and complete faith in God. Let’s take the first step in faith and let God leads us through, let us persist in prayer and faith in God.