“Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias…rise and go to the street called straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul.” Acts 9:10a – 11b
Have you ever been given a directive from God that you questioned? Ananias did. In verse 13 of Acts 9 Ananias responded to God’s will that he go to Saul, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.” In his finite mind, Ananias could only see the danger, the human fear of approaching Saul knowing only what Saul had done in the past. But in the end, Ananias trusted that he had heard God right and followed through with the command. And look at the result! Saul was later renamed Paul, as a new man in Christ, and his journeys to spread the Good News of Jesus are authored by Paul in at least 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament.
I don’t know about you, but I often doubt that what I am doing for God is by God’s design. So many times I get started on what I consider a “calling” and once it gets going, I let doubt, discouragement, and unworthiness creep into my thoughts. I find myself focusing on whether or not I heard God wrong, or was working out of my own desires over His, and sometimes I may even twist what people say into an excuse to stop the ministry.
Satan is good at robbing us of our service. He knows our weaknesses and fills our heads with lies to confuse what we know to be true. For instance, I have known for years that God gave me a burden for ladies who have gone through addiction and abuse. He gave me words of instruction and comfort for families of loved ones with addictions and even opened the doors of opportunity to specialize my lay counseling in understanding the mind of addictions. The ministry, Prayers for Prodigals, was born out of these experiences and I have seen so many families through the hard times. But I let Satan rob me of this ministry. When attendance at the monthly meetings was low, I convinced myself that there was no need for the ministry. When I couldn’t find a place to meet I took that as a sign that it was not to happen. So I focused my service in other places. Places where I was used, but not to my full extent.
I know where my ministry is. God has allowed me to go through so many experiences involving addictions and has strengthened me through each of them. My burden is for the ladies who are trying to turn their lives around. It is for the hope of Jesus to heal them. It is for the families who support them, and for those whose families have left them. And God has not left me. This past year God showed me that He is not done using me in this ministry. I am once again working with ladies who are turning their lives around from addiction and abuse. And, yes, I have my moments of doubt. But I see the hearts of these ladies and I see the hearts of the volunteers I work with and I know that this desire is God’s desire.
Where are you focusing your service? Are you sitting in church thinking, “I would really like to work with youth” or “I would like to sing on the praise team” or “I would like to lead a Bible study.” Or maybe you are being called to preach, teach, or reach. What is stopping you? What if Ananias had let fear keep him from following through on reaching out to Paul? He would have missed out on being part of launching one of the greatest evangelistic preachers ever. How do you know that one of the youth you are supposed to be leading is not the next Billy Graham? How do you know that your voice on the praise team is not the one that turns a life around to Christ?
Or maybe you have been in a ministry for awhile and you feel stuck. I got stuck in mud one time. In my Jeep. I just put it in 4 Low and crawled right out. What are you going to do to get out of the mud? Do you need a new Bible study routine? A different organization of what you are teaching? Or maybe you need to change positions and watch the people you have been nurturing start to fill the calling so you can start your next journey.
Whenever you start to doubt that you are answering God’s call, look for affirmations first. Watch the actual circumstances unfold in front of you. And listen with your Spirit rather than your head. The Spirit will never lead you down the wrong path.