Musings & Younger Perspectives:
The 4 Stages of God’s Calling (for me, at least!)
By Tiffanie Shanks | Photos by Jesse N. Love
Truth: I have never, knowingly or intentionally, chosen to run from God’s calling for me. Not that I haven’t gotten in the way, or been tempted to “run for the hills”. I simply have never done so on purpose.
When God does call me to do something and I recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit, no matter how great or seemingly miniscule the feat may be, I experience four distinct stages before I can fully commit to the call that has been placed over me. Secretly I hope I’m not the only one.
Stage 1: Overwhelming Excitement
In this moment I am so shocked that I truly understand what God is asking of me (a rare commodity for anyone who has ever tried it) I literally can’t handle it! I am consumed by the joy that comes from realizing that God would honestly choose me. There is nothing more humbling and more encouraging than knowing that God is actively and overtly present in your life. I can’t imagine spending my time doing anything other than pursuing and engaging this call. Forget the fact that I’m pretty sure God has called me to all of the other things in my life at some point. This is it! Let’s do it!!!
Stage 2: Paralyzing Doubt
Oh wait. What was that? A random thought that maybe I’m not worthy?! Why would God choose me? No matter how hard I try I can’t make sense of it all. What about all of the ways that I’ve messed up lately? This must be a mistake! Not God’s mistake… mine. God wouldn’t choose me for this. There are so many people better equipped than me. They have more experience, more wisdom, more influence, more respect! Forget the fact that scripture shows us that God never uses the likely candidate. What will happen to me if this is true? Can I afford to sacrifice the resources that I need to invest in this call; money, time, space, the other things that I was called to that I am no longer? What do I care about that I’ll have to walk away from? I bet I can find an issue of pride, selfishness, envy, greed, or the like in all of this somewhere. My heart couldn’t possibly be in the right place. I don’t want to do this for the glory of God but for my own glory… I know it!
Stage 3: Reluctant Obedience
All right. Now that I’m over myself, it’s time for some honesty whether I like it or not. I cannot deny that this was God. I’ve never been someone to run from God when I knew it was God leading me. Maybe I don’t want to do this but… I will. I must. Out of sheer faithfulness. I must obey. I have to trust. Even though I don’t want to, I do it reluctantly.
Note: The transition from stage 3 to stage 4 is significant and often lasts for a noticeable length of time. It is full of internal and external affirmation. God continues to speak to the heart of the called to remind them of who God is, who God created them to be, and provides evidence as to why they are the right person and it is the right time.
Stage 4: Relentless Determination
Okay. Time to do this, really. God didn’t give me God’s Son, my salvation, reluctantly. God loved me so much that God gave God’s only Son! Rightfully, God will not relent until God has all of me. So I must do this and I must give it everything that God is asking of me. Nothing can stop me anymore. Not even myself! My conviction runs so deep that with God’s help I will complete the charge God has placed before me. You just watch. Just wait and see. The things God is about to do, simply because I’ve made myself available to God are going to be magnificent. I will not relent until I’ve done all I can to show my love and trust and faithfulness. It’s too late to stop me, so don’t try!
Note: Sometimes stage 4 is also full of doubt. I may be relentlessly determined but when my artificial timeline for how things should fall in place isn’t in line with God’s realistic timeline I find myself alternating between doubt and determination. I could alternate quickly or I could settle in for days, maybe weeks, at a time. This is where reminding oneself that God is a God of promises that have never been broken and timelines that have never been predictable is all that’s important.
Stay faithful. Be relentless.
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