Last weekend, I went to a women’s retreat themed “Forgiven and Fabulous.” Of course, I’m shy, so I brought along my best friend from college. There is so much that I got out of it that I can’t possibly address everything in a single post, so right now, I’m just going to write about the last message from guest speaker, Jody Johnston.
Jody Johnston is the author of Legacy of a Woman’s Heart: How Will You Be Remembered. I bought the book but haven’t read it yet. In her book, she profiles seven biblical women and includes stories of modern-day women with similar stories. Of course, as I’m reading it, I will write about my reactions and how it impacts me. If you want to read a description of the book, click here.
We read about Esther (Chapters 1 through 4 in the book of Esther, in the Old Testament of the Bible.) It was no accident that Esther was chosen to be queen – she was part of God’s bigger plan. Mordecai (the relative who raised her as his daughter) had forbidden her to reveal her background, so the king did not know she was a Jew. When Mordecai found out about the order from Haman (one of the king’s advisors) to destroy the Jews, he asked Esther to talk to the king.
At first, Esther told Mordecai she couldn’t help because she could be put to death for approaching the king uninvited. Mordecai responded that if she didn’t, Jews would die and even she wouldn’t be safe. Esther did end up asking the king to spare her people – which he did. The king even honored Mordecai for previously saving his life by uncovering an assassination plot, and ordered Haman to be hung. God seems to have an appreciation for irony, because Haman was hung on gallows which he had constructed for Mordecai’s death.
The message from Esther’s story is that God has a plan for us. We each have at least one gift and should use this gift to fulfill God’s plan – just as Esther fulfilled God’s plan by courageously approaching the king with the request to save her people even though it could have cost her life. Ms. Johnston told us that we may be scared and not feel qualified when God calls on us, but He makes us qualified.
How do you know what “gift(s)” God has given you? How do you know when you are called upon by God?
These two questions have been swirling in my mind ever since this lesson. Is writing my gift? I don’t know. If it is, am I doing what God expects me to do? I don’t know that, either. I wonder if I’ve missed a sign and ended up somewhere south of His plan. (I picture God with His head resting in His hand muttering, “no, no, no, NO!”)
Then again, I wonder if it’s possible that there isn’t anything to know yet. Maybe I’m still on the bench waiting to be called into action. Perhaps it’s not my time to discover my gift or my calling.
My computer hasn’t self-destructed, so until then, I will continue writing. You know, just in case it does happen to be my gift.
Have you discovered your gift or your calling? If so, how did you know?
When I’m on the right path, I feel peaceful and content. When I’ve veered off course, I feel anxious and ill at ease.
The Universe speaks to me through the still silent voice within, and through other spiritual connections.
If you’re interested:
And the links which follow the post.
Thanks for the link to your post, Nancy. I do think it’s interesting how you apparently correctly interpreted the silent voice that led you to quit your job that wasn’t a fit for you.
I’ve struggled with the question, “what is my purpose in life” for many years now. Maybe the answer is to not look at the question as a whole and live toward it, but focus on God’s teachings every day. I don’t feel anxious in my life, but I do have the feeling like maybe I’m missing something. (It’s kind of like when I’m at the grocery store and have forgotten my list. I stare at my cart, certain I’ve forgotten something important, but cannot figure out what.)
I hear stories of people who “just knew” they were supposed to do something or be somewhere at a given time. I’m waiting for that feeling to guide me. It’s possible that my purpose is something that won’t be evident until years later when I reflect upon my life, but I pray for some kind of sign to know what else I should be doing right now.
I’m not sure what you mean by “focus on God’s teachings.” The generic application of biblical teachings is not helpful to me. That’s not to say that the bible cannot “speak to us” on a personal basis, but just following the Ten Commandments is apt to result in frustration rather than revelation.
God wants us to BE WHO WE ARE ~ our purpose is locked in our heart. If we are growing in happiness, we are on the right path. If we are comfortable in our skin, we are getting warmer.
If we feel like something is missing . . . something is missing. 😀
And we must keep searching until we find it. Our purpose is to discover our purpose and then pursue it with passion. But our purpose is not necessarily a thing . . . so much as just being the best WE we can be.
By focusing on God’s teachings, I mean reading the Bible in general (not just the ten commandments.) There are so many stories of those who suffered, overcame difficulties and believed. There’s so much in the Bible that could help me, but I won’t know until I read it (possibly several times.)
I agree that just living by the ten commandments alone would be frustrating (because I would fail daily with no hope of reaching ‘perfection.’)
I’m glad you responded and gave me the opportunity to explain myself better 🙂 Always appreciate your thoughtful comments, Nancy!
Let God know that you are OPEN to additional clarity. A book may pop off the shelf. Someone may share a story with you. An opportunity may arise.
In short, an answer may appear when you least expect it.
I will do that. And, you can bet that if I think I’ve got some answers, I’ll write about it 🙂
P.S. I completely agree that answers we’re looking for come when we’re not expecting it, and often from surprising sources. I’ll see if I can stay ready enough to notice it, but not so ready that it doesn’t happen!
I thought I knew what God’s plan for me is. But, it isn’t working for me right now. I thought my plan was to serve others. But in the process of serving others I have been taken advantage of, and unappreciated for my gifts. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for sharing.
I’m sorry serving others has resulted in personal sacrifice. Maybe others taking you for granted is God’s way of suggesting you serve yourself, too? If you give so much of yourself to others, there is the risk of them sucking the life out of you – there has to be something in life that will fulfill you.
I wish you the best in determining whether you’re living God’s plan, or if that plan has changed course a bit.
Writing is definitely one of your gifts, Janna. That’s not rocket science or a message from above. It’s just obvious. I’m sure you are gifted in many ways. In fact, your multi-giftedness shows in your writing. I love your statement – “My computer hasn’t self-destructed, so until then, I will continue writing. You know, just in case it does happen to be my gift.” Blessings to you, Janna…
Thanks for the support, Carol.
The speaker talked about us doubting our skills when God calls on us. She said that alone, we couldn’t do what God asks us to, but he makes us qualified. This struck me because I had doubts when my examination of my writing led me to research Christian Fiction. My first thought was, “I don’t know enough about the scripture to write that.” I can’t say if this was God leading me or not. I’m not restricting myself with that label as I write, but I am curious what it is I’ll end up with.
You’ve raised some good points here, Janna. How do we know we’re on the right path, God’s path? I think we have to take a realistic assessment of our gifts and abilities, then use them for the good of mankind. We’re supposed to brighten our little corner of the universe and not hide our light “under a bushel basket.” And we’re got to realize that God has a sense of humor (or is it irony?). Sometimes, we might find the rug yanked right out from beneath us, yet we must go on in hope and trust. Not easy, this way we trod, but how depressing to veer away into the black hole of the lost!
I think God has both a sense of humor and an appreciation for irony (or perhaps I’m just projecting what my own reactions would be onto Him?)
I agree that we should use our gifts and abilities to brighten the world. Realizing those gifts and abilities is another thing. Personally, I have issues honestly assessing myself on anything. For any talent or gift I might have, I can think of many people who are better than me. This leaves me wondering if they are gifts or just things I (selfishly) enjoy. On the flip side, I can see that if I evaluated myself and thought I was the best at certain things, my ego would prevent me from being any use in serving anyone but myself.
See how I reason myself into circles?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on gifts and how we should use them. I always appreciate your comments, Debbie 🙂
I think Nancy is on the right track. You will know. If you’re feeling empty, then there is more for you to discover. I realize you approach things biblically…a very good study that will attune you in the way Nancy is speaking is a study called “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby…it helps you determine if you are in the right flow by watching things around you, some call it coincidences, others call it synchronicity. Whatever you call it, when you experience it as a way of living it is life changing.
Thanks for the book reference, SuziCate. I’d never heard about it, so I wrote it down so I can check it out.
Also, I meant to say that we all have many gifts, but it does not necessarily mean that one or any of them are to be our purpose. We will find that we use our various gifts at different times and for different reasons through out life. It is a matter of living in each moment and going where it takes you…I know it sounds silly not planning our lives moment by moment, but we seem to miss out on the experience of living if we direct our every move. Sometimes, we must be still and silent and let it find us.
I do believe in not making firm plans and following where each step leads. I had a job once where they wanted me to write a five year plan and detail my career path for the next five years. I couldn’t do it. If I did that, then I may miss other opportunities because I was so focused on my written plan.
I like your comment about being still and silent. I think it’s entirely possible that I’m too busy searching.
I’m the same, always wondering what God’s plan for my life is and whether I’m following it or have strayed from it. Those are tough questions! Like you, I wonder what part writing plays. I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but maybe for God the blog is more important 🙂
I’m also hopeless at identifying whether a setback is an obstacle to be overcome with perseverance or a message to change path!
If you find out, let me know 😉
Knotrune, I can tell from your comment that you completely understand where I’m coming from. I don’t know if the things I enjoy bring me joy for selfish reasons or Godly reasons, so I have trouble relying on happiness or joy as my only guide.
You’ve also mentioned a piece that fits for me that I didn’t even discuss: how to interpret difficulties – whether to keep at it or give up. It seems that some people navigate through life better than others, and I feel like I’m perpetually confused.
If I find my way, I’d certainly share what I learned. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is helpful to know that I’m not the only one out there struggling with these questions. Good luck to you on your journey 🙂
Don’t know if this will interest you or not, but it might:
Thanks for the link, Nancy. She had a well-written post. I’ve never looked into numerology, but it is an interesting concept.