As you face a new year, can you confidently say you are living out God's calling on your life? Or can you at least say you are moving toward living out the life God has designed for you?
Look around. Talk to people. Read studies. Most people are stuck in a job or career they see as "drudgery," a dating relationship that has them going nowhere, or a course of life that they are not enjoying. They are surviving, but not thriving. But this can be the year you begin to thrive...as you look at the calling God has placed on your life and you begin to live it out.
God created us to love Him and enjoy Him forever. That means He also created us to do what we enjoy doing. But so many people settle because it's easier (for the moment), it's more comfortable (they think) and it's "safe" (although drudgery can be torturous, at times).
Here are three principles to keep in mind when it comes to living out your calling and thriving in your life this year:
1) God calls us to obey Him...and obedience leads to joy.
When we follow Christ, we aren't promised continual blue skies and unlimited happiness. Jesus did say that to follow Him involves denying ourselves and picking up a cross. At times that will mean suffering. And it will mean experiencing situations that cause us to depend on Him all the more. But there is a deep-seated joy that comes from the peace and satisfaction of knowing we are in God's will.
For example, my husband is a pastor. That includes a lot of not-so-glamorous tasks associated with shepherding people. He doesn't necessarily love his job at times, nor does it make him ridiculously happy. But because He is doing what God has called him to do, He experiences far more peace, joy and satisfaction than if he ran from the position and deafened His ears to God's call.
David said in Psalms 16:11 "In your presence is fullness of joy, in your right hand there are pleasures forever." David knew that a life lived in close relationship with God, and therefore obedience to Him, produced joy.
Jesus said in John 15:7 "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." He then clarified what it meant to "remain" in Him: "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love" (John 15:10). He then promises joy as a result: "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete" (John 15:11).
So, if you are honoring and obeying God in all that you do, you might not necessarily be happy all the time, but you will experience the deep joy and peace that comes from remaining in His presence. Ask God for a heart to obey Him more this year. Obedience to God always results in a life of joy.
2) God calls us to glorify Him....and glorifying Him brings joy.
God often lays something on our hearts that He wants us to accomplish for His glory. And there is no greater joy than glorifying God with all that we are and all that we have.
When Jesus said "ask whatever you wish and it will be given you" He followed it up by saying "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (John 15:8).
Bearing fruit (good works) and being Christ's disciple is not an option for a follower of Christ. It is a given. It will automatically happen as you obey Him, remain in Him and honor Him with your life.
Think about where you are working, what you are doing day in and day out, whom you are coming in contact with? Are you showing people around you that you possess the love of Christ, you are transformed by the power of His Holy Spirit, and you are the recipient of an eternal inheritance? I believe if we read Ephesians 1 each day and remembered all we have in Christ, it would bubble over in our lives and make an impact on how we live. Everything you say and do should be a testimony to others of whom you love and what He's done for you. Scripture tells us "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God," (1 Corinthians 10:31). Ask God how you can glorify Him in a greater way this year.
3) God calls us to a life of faith...and that leads to our dream.
If God called us to live safe, manageable lives, then we wouldn't really need Him, apart from saving our souls and letting us sit it out until we are called home to heaven. Yet God wants to do through you what is beyond you. He wants to put you on display to the world of what He is able to do through a life of faith.
Scripture is full of verses that build our confidence in a God who can do anything. And He is most glorified when we step out to do the extraordinary through the help and empowerment of an extraordinary God.
Philippians 4:13 says "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" and Ephesians 3:20 says Christ is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." That tells me He is a God who is waiting to do the extraordinary—and what the world sees as impossible—through you.
So what is that dream on your heart? To quit your drudgery job and start that ministry, fulltime? To write that book God has laid on your heart? To trust Him with that move across the country? To expand your business by incorporating biblical principles? If it is His call you are obeying and His glory you are seeking, then He is the one who will equip you and empower you to do what is beyond you. Ask God how you can step out in faith this year and show the world how capable He is.
Don't start 2014 in the same place you were at the end of last year. Listen for His call, obey His voice, ask Him how you can glorify Him and then step out in faith. A great adventure of thriving and living out His call on your life awaits.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 100,000 copies sold), When Couples Walk Together, and When a Woman Discovers Her Dream. For more encouragement and inspiration in meeting your goals, as well as free resources to strengthen your personal walk with God or your marriage, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com
Publication date: January 8, 2013