One of the most common questions believers ask is, “How can I know God’s will?” Many books have attempted to answer that question, so I won’t try to address it here. But an equally important question should be, “Once you sense you know God’s will, what are you going to do about it?”
Recently I participated in a Zoom online meeting in which the fellow giving the meditation posed the question, “When God directs, do we have enough faith to step out in obedience?”
Thinking back over my life, I can recall a number of times I felt God’s leading – sometimes a gentle nudge, other times a firm shove – to do something that was far outside of my comfort zone. In some of those instances I hesitated, thinking, “I can’t do that.” But after praying, God persisting, or both, I took the step He was asking me to take.
Each time I did, the Lord did “exceeding abundantly beyond anything I could think or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). One of the first such times I remember was when I was concluding my newspaper career in suburban Houston, Texas, preparing to make a major job change in joining the staff of CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Connection) in Chattanooga, Tenn.
God has many ways of making clear His will. In this case, I knew it was time to change employment, but the CBMC job offer was the only door that opened up. It was almost like the Lord saying, “Bob, you’re not smart enough to deal with multiple options, so this is the only opportunity I’m going to present.” So when the job offer came – to become CBMC’s editor and publications director – I accepted.
But I still felt anxious. My family and I had never been to Chattanooga, except when I traveled there for the job interview, and I knew next to nothing about CBMC or the people I would be working with. So in meeting with the pastor of my church to talk with him about going to work with a Christian organization, he suggested I take a few minutes during a Sunday morning service and tell the congregation about what I would be doing.
My initial reaction was, “No, I can’t do that.” Being pretty much of an introvert, and averse to speaking in front of a group, I couldn’t imagine getting up to speak before several hundred people, even for just a few minutes. But the pastor asked me to pray about it. As I did, I felt strongly impressed that was what God wanted me to do. Finally, I agreed, praying, “Okay, Lord, I’ll do it, but don’t let me embarrass myself – or You – In the process.”
That Sunday morning, as I sat near the front awaiting my time to speak, I felt very nervous. “What am I doing?” But as soon as I got up, stepped behind the pulpit and looked at the congregation, including many friends, I sensed the “peace that passes all understanding” Philippians 4:7 speaks about. With a steady voice and without stumbling around, I briefly explained how God was calling me – and my family – to Chattanooga where I would be writing and editing for a ministry dedicated to evangelizing and discipling business and professional people.
That step of obedience turned into a stepping stone for future opportunities. In part because of that experience, knowing that in God’s strength I could something I felt very uncomfortable about – public speaking – I’ve had numerous opportunities to speak since then, in many different settings. I’ll never been invited to be on a speaking circuit, but I have spoken at meetings all across the country, taught college classes in business communications for years, and even was invited to speak internationally in Hungary, the Netherlands, Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Venezuela, and Jamaica.
There have been other times when I stepped out in obedience as God directed, such as discipling and mentoring another man spiritually; traveling to Brazil, where I knew no one and could not speak a word of Portuguese; and making another major career move.
On each occasion, God blessed my step of faith far beyond what I could have hoped. As Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call on Me, and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” I don’t even want to imagine what might have happened – or would not have happened – if I had resisted and refused to take a faithful first step.
What about you? Is God calling you, directing you, to do something and you’re thinking, “No way. I couldn’t do that!”? I think of the prophet Isaiah’s bold response: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?' And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8). Don’t miss out on some great adventure the Lord has for you by declining to respond, “Okay, I’ll go.”