How to know God’s will… signs and calling

Whenever I read stories of Bible heroes, about God speaking so clearly to them, about them asking for signs to confirm that God wanted them to do some mission impossible, I wish God would be as audible and visible to me. I have also wondered how come God allowed Gideon to ask for signs (Judges 6:36-40) when He called him to lead the Israelites to fight the Midianites. Why was God so patient with Moses – showing him so many signs when He called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:12, 4:1-17)

I realised that when God calls, He confirms and affirms in ways beyond I can imagine to ask.

For many years now, friends have been encouraging me to write a book. My excuse has always been I don’t know how… I need an editor. I procrastinated.I presented a book proposal to a publishing company years ago. Then I withdrew the proposal; procrastinate some more. Last year, I finally decided to try again. I worked at the proposal, submitted everything they asked for. It took almost a year before I got a definite response. The editor wrote:

“Thank you for submitting your book proposal for a devotional, and for waiting patiently for our decision. Unfortunately, your book proposal was not approved for publication. It was evaluated side by side with another devotional by a veteran … author…. have a strong market following. We’re not confident your devotional could stand out in a plethora of devotionals in the local market, many of them by well-known American authors and selected Filipino authors who already have a platform and a strong following.”

Not a positive sign, much less encouraging, is it? I was disappointed. But God works in providential ways in my disappointment. He closes doors to open windows. He tests to see how we respond to closed doors.

A month or two after I submitted the book proposal, I had a chat with my seminary professor. He learned about my quest for an editor. He referred me Karen. I emailed her to inquire about possibilities of working together on a book. Long story short, a month after my proposal was turned down, Karen sent me an edit proposal. I was overwhelmed about the amount of work I had to do. I felt so inadequate – I wanted to give up. Not a very positive sign again, is it? But God used Karen to encourage and affirm His calling.

What to do next? God, talk to me. Show me how. I prayed:

Lord, can I reboot? Start all over again? Please help me. I need a clear guiding hand to point me in the right direction.

Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isa 30:20-21)

Let me hear your still small voice – this is the path, walk in it. Let my eyes be focused on the right way. Let me not stray to the left or to the right – not to be side-tracked by the trivial; not to be enticed by the temporal or seemingly good stuffs that I want to showcase… my ‘own’ gifts and talents and good experiences. Lead me to the path that will bring you most glory – that will make you most happy.

Encourage me with your word. Let me be bold to do it knowing that you alone will enable me. When I feel helpless, you help me. When I doubt, you assure me. When I want to give up, please don’t give up on me. When I don’t know, show me.

This work is your work. These words are your words. The book is yours. My life is yours. All that I have is yours. Make me an instrument that what I write will edify those who read. I am a broken vessel – you make me whole for your purpose. Show me the way. Show me how to write, what to say (even what is broken in me)… what not to say (when it will not please you)…

May this prayer be a pleasing aroma to you and an encouraging guide for me. Amen.

God answered my prayer from that day forth. Today the Holy Spirit continues to speak, to guide and to point the way. When God calls, He confirms and affirms along the way. There might be some bottlenecks, some stopovers, some delays and some setbacks. I just need to keep listening attentively to His still small voice saying – this is the path, walk in it.

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