The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Have you ever felt like quitting on your calling? You know God called you to pursue a specific dream or task, but your steps of faith have left you feeling more disappointed than exhilarated – you are disillusioned and feel like giving up. If so, I can relate.
God recently called me to follow my own advice, to get out of my comfort zone, take a step of faith, and take on an assignment I knew was from Him. I took on the task, certain that after completing it I would see God work in amazing ways, feel exhilarated, and be ready for the next big endeavor. But that is not exactly what happened.
I poured myself into the project, gave it everything I had, and completed it to the best of my ability…I was ready to see God at work…but then…nothing…or at least that is how it seemed to me. Rather that feeling energized and exhilarated, I felt deflated and defeated.
Why had God called me to do this? Why did it seem like He failed to show up as I thought He would? Isn’t He supposed to go before us and do amazing things when we take steps of faith?
After reflecting on the situation and praying over my confusion, God impressed on my heart a simple, but profound truth: His glory is not dependent on my feelings. If we expect fireworks and fanfare after every act of obedience, we will be greatly disappointed. Fully following Jesus is about His glory, not ours.
Further, God gently reminded me that I am not privy to all the ways He works. Just because I didn’t “feel” how I thought I would after completing my assignment, and just because He didn’t “show up” as I expected, doesn’t mean He’s not at work and using my obedience for His glory. It was as though He tenderly asked me, “Are you only going to obey and follow Me when it feels exciting? What about the times I call you to do things that don’t make you feel this way? Will you still follow, or will you quit?”
Immediately the prophet Jeremiah came to mind. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet as his heart was broken over the sin and disobedience of the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah chapter 1 we read how God called Jeremiah to warn the nation of Israel about impending destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. Israel had forsaken God by worshiping false gods and was about to be judged. While Jeremiah felt unqualified for the call, God promised to be with Jeremiah and to give him the words to speak. Jeremiah was told to boldly speak harsh truth to the Israelites. Clearly not a feel-good kind of assignment.
And what did Jeremiah receive for his faithful proclamation of God’s message? Did he come away feeling excited and exhilarated after he spoke the words the Lord gave him, knowing He has stepped out of his comfort zone? No. Quite the contrary. Jeremiah was attacked, beaten, imprisoned, threatened with death, thrown into a cistern, and opposed by a false prophet. How’s that for a good pep talk to get you ready to follow God’s leading and not give up?
Hang with me though, we can all learn something from Jeremiah’s story. Quite simply, following God does not always mean that our adventure of faith will be one of good times and emotional highs. There will be times when following God will be challenging and feel more like a valley than mountaintop experience. The question then becomes, will you still follow?
Remember, God’s glory is not dependent on our feelings. While Jeremiah’s ministry was not one of mountain top experiences, God was still glorified through his obedience and used him in amazing ways. The same is true of us.
Oswald Chambers says it this way, “The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not….If you make a god out of your best moments, you will find God will fade out of your life, never to return until you are obedient in the work He has placed closest to you, until you have learned not to be obsessed with those exceptional moments He has given you.”
If you are feeling less than exhilarated by your calling today, I would encourage you to get with God and clarify His direction for you. If you are certain you are in the center of God’s will, regardless how you currently feel, don’t quit. You never know what tomorrow may bring or how God will use your obedience…even when you don’t “feel” it. Don’t quit, keep following, God will use you!