Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are Mine.
I love to dwell on the fact that God knows me by name. He knows me. He sees the full extent of my heart. He sees my situation. He sees the unique way He has created me. That uniqueness leads Him to call me in ways that He does not call other people. Yes, I am a wife and mom and global worker—but I am going to be a different kind of wife and mom and global worker than anyone else.
We can easily be distracted from that calling when we do not consider the unique ways God has made us. Sometimes I can go on autopilot and not think about the idea of being called at all—I just do what comes.
God has much more for us than that. He wants us to understand and embrace our calling at a much deeper and more intimate level, because it comes from a God who has called us by name. The following are some of the ways God has taught me to stay connected with the calling He has for me.
I began to realize the importance of contemplating my call during our first year overseas. I had our son six months after we got there. He was an easy baby so in the beginning I was able to continue with many of my ministry activities. By the fall, however, between helping my husband lead our team and meeting with students, in addition to this now active child, I was overwhelmed. I had taken on too much without contemplating what it was that God wanted me to do.
As I prayed over my situation, God led me to Jeremiah 6:16, which says, Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. Through that verse, God said, “You will come to these crossroads over and over, where the path is not clear. I know the good way, because I know you. I know the capacity that I have given you. I know how I want to use you. You have to stop and contemplate. Look. Ask. I will show you.”
I need to keep coming back to that verse. In each new season, I need to ask what I am called to do. We need to be contemplative every day and to say, “Lord, what do you have for me now?” If I do not take that time, I will do things I am not called to do.
So we need to ask, “Am I shrinking back from God’s calling? Am I running way outside the boundary of it? Am I looking to other things to give me life apart from God?” When we are taking the time to stop, look, and ask, He shows us where the good way is, where real life is.
Following God’s call is like Peter stepping out on the water to walk to Jesus. If we just keep our eyes on Him, we can do it. The moment we look at the waves around us, we are bound to sink. In those waves is the evil of comparison. Comparing our lives, our capacity, or our gifts with others keeps us from confidence in our calling.
Perhaps you are the kind of person who struggles with being organized and staying on task. You look at another woman and think, “Wow, she looks like she has it all together. I wish I could be more like her.” She probably looks at you and wishes she could be more free and spontaneous. Comparison can cause us to doubt that what we have or how we were created is good enough or the “right” way to live.
Whether it is ministry opportunities, spiritual gifts, husbands, or children, we have to step back and see how our uniqueness means there is no basis for comparison. It is not just in how we are made, it is the situations God puts us in as well. It breaks God’s heart when we compare ourselves to each other, because it diminishes what He has created in us and what He is doing with us that is so good.
Comparison easily leads us to be discontent. In 2013, I chose a “word of the year.” In the midst of transitioning back to the United States, I hoped my word might be “rooted” or “known.” That sounded good.
Except the word God gave to me was “content.” He said, “What if, by the end of the year, you are not settled? You are not known? Can you be content if I give you to something else?”
During that year, I struggled with life not being quite what I wanted it to be. I had needs that were not met. I watched our kids struggle with transition. I would not have chosen all the pieces of my life
This, however, is where He has called us. The circumstances of my life are from the hands of a God who knows me intimately. We can be content when we believe that what we have is from the One who calls us by name, and that His actions toward us are good. When we trust in that, we can be content.
Child of God
Since moving here, I have wrestled with God about what He has for me. I have stopped. I have looked. I have asked. I have prayed for clarity. I have tried to rest in what it seemed He was calling me to do. I have fought the temptation to seek life apart from Him. In all of this, He has reminded me that my deepest calling is to be His child.
Perhaps you do not know what it is He wants you to do right now, or what makes you unique. Perhaps you are not where you want to be at this time. Know that, for now, you can rest in this: You are His beloved child. This is the one calling that never changes (and that no comparison can diminish).
Stand at the crossroads and look; Ask for the ancient paths, Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. When we listen closely to God’s voice, we hear Him calling us beloved. We hear Him affirming how He has created us. We can trust in His goodness because of His deep love for and knowledge of us. In the world we have many names—wife, mother, friend, minister of the gospel—but ultimately, the One who calls us by name defines us.
Questions to consider: Are you “shrinking back from God’s calling”? Are you “running way outside the boundary of it”? Are you “looking to other things to give [you] life apart from God”?