How to work out God’s plan for you

Working out what God’s plan for me is, is proving to be one of the greatest challenges of my life. Perhaps it will be my life’s work in itself, and when I look back at my life, I’ll know what God’s plans for me were.

I do know that He plans for me to work for Him, it’s more the specifics I’m struggling with, and as He reveals more and more to me, I learn more about how we can discern what His plans and purposes for us are.

I don’t pretend to know even 10% of how to do this, but I offer some insight.

Inspired by some teaching from the Word for Today (an awesome resource from UCB), entitled ‘Working for God – His Way’ (….created in Christ Jesus to do good works.. Eph 2:10), here are my thoughts.

For the most part, we have to wait to find out what God’s plans for us are. God doesn’t tell us immediately, usually because we’re not ready. Readiness often comes in stages  – and we have to complete tasks (or trials – see James 1) along the journey, to be readied, prepared. Sometimes those trials make no sense, either – remember the Karate Kid? Daniel waxing the cars and painting the fence? He had no idea that they’d create instinctive martial arts moves in him. So it is with us. When God’s ready to tell you how he wants to use you, he will. It will be very clear – even though it may look impossible – that’s when he asks (& requires us) to trust him – because he’s dealing with the bits we can’t see or understand how to accomplish – we’re only a small part of his greater plan.
OK – does that all sound a bit intangible and (perhaps) far off? Remember God is patient and wants to grow that in us…
Here’s a way to find out what it is he’s calling you to do…
When God’s character and your passions collide you find your mission.
God wants us to love each other. He wants us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor and care for the broken-hearted (Matthew 25:34-36). He wants us to love mercy, do what is right and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8). All of which is worship. All of which glorify him. – these are his standards, his character.
What are you passionate about? Whom do you care for? What is it that you’re drawn to? Where do your passions and his character meet in the middle?
He speaks to us: the voice in our head, strong feelings, words from the bible, words from other people. We can discern his voice from these ‘channels’ by judging them by the standards I’ve listed above.
And we have to take action – to do things, serve others, as above. We have to step out in faith and try things out – to see where they take us and find out where God leads us.
Hope that helps somehow.
Have fun finding out.

Finding myself in a wilderness

This may turn out to be part one in a series – but here goes…

I’ve just found out I’m in a wilderness in my life. Which explains a lot of things, like why I’m feeling so lost in some areas, lacking in direction, sustenance. It helps me understand why this season feels so hard, fruitless and like its a gruelling trial with no end in sight.

This evening I was able to attend Burn, an expression of our church community where there is no format, only the intention to seek God; praying and worshipping to see where His Spirit will lead us.

As part of my process of giving control of my life back to God, I went forward for prayer. I felt that God had placed a number of things on my heart to deal with; to forgive myself for regretting 10+ years of life that I think I wasted, to ask for help with patience and to receive God’s Spirit, to refresh me. While praying, one of the leaders came and said that he felt God saying that I am in a wilderness (which one of my colleagues had suggested a few weeks ago…), to learn, be trialled, tested, shaped, prepared – and at some point I’ll be called out, back to serve in a particular way, for a particular purpose. For what? I don’t yet know, perhaps glimpses i’ve seen, but for now…

… For now I have found myself in a wilderness. I have to learn how to navigate it; what to do next…

Advent Reinvented – looking from behind the calendar doors

As the years go by, putting the ‘Christ’ back into Christmas becomes more and more of a crusade for me.

This year, it’s started earlier, only this time I can blame my wife.

From the 1st December, countless doors will be flung open in homes across the western world, doors that reveal pictures, gifts and chocolate. That’s right, it’s Advent (meaning the coming of Christ into the world) and it’s time to break out the Advent calendars.

Advent-Calendar

The tradition of Advent calendars began in Germany, where the Lutherans would count down the days until Christmas, using an Advent Clock (of 24 candles) – each day marking a step closer to the celebration of Jesus’ birthday; the coming of the Messiah.

In the early 20th century, the original Advent Clock transformed into printed calendars with a door for each day, behind which was a picture of a scene or event from the story of Jesus’ birth. As time has passed, gifts began to appear behind the doors, to remind us that Jesus’ is God’s greatest gift to us. By the 1950s this had come to include chocolate and while chocolate is the modern favourite, today’s consumer can find anything from Harrods glass decorations to Star Wars Lego!

Sadly, for many, the original message has been lost. We buy the calendars and receive a gift or a treat from behind each door. But do we remember why?

Thanks to the internet, here’s a couple of online Advent calendars that convey the Christian message (and, of course, a few freebies).

Spring Harvest Advent Calendar

London School of Theology  (LST) Advent Calendar

I think they’re a great modern interpretation of the original thought behind the Advent Calendar, and they are cool gifts in themselves, but Rachel challenged me even more. What if we were behind the doors? What if people we know are looking for something each day this December and we could give it to them?

We could be the gifts. We could give gifts of love and personally deliver the message that God wants us to, the message that He delivered when He gave His son to save us, because He loves us so much.

So we’re reinventing Advent this year and trying to look out from behind the calendar doors. Our prayer each day this Advent is that God will use us to give a gift of love to someone each day, to demonstrate His love, and deliver the Good News of Jesus.