This past summer my husband (Bob) and I spent six weeks in Siena, Italy on a Cru Summer Mission.
Our purpose was to share the Gospel with as many Italian students as possible. Between great coffee, creamy gelato, and delicioso pasta, our team of 13 talked to several hundred – and had a great time in the process. I loved walking the steep cobblestone streets of Siena; it was great exercise, especially early in the morning before the town woke up and shops opened for the day’s business.
I remember one particular sunny, warm Saturday morning grabbing my iPod and heading to the Campo (the town’s center square). As I began my walk, the song He Reigns by Newsboys started playing: “It’s the song of the redeemed rising from the African plain, the song of the forgiven drowning out the Amazon rain, the song of Asian believers filled with God’s Holy fire, it’s every tribe, every tongue, every nation, a love song born of a gratefully choir, it’s all God’s children singing: Glory, Glory, Halleluiah, He Reigns.”
These words rang (loudly) through my ears, into my head, and washed over my heart as I walked past men and women, boys and girls from all over the world. It was one of those moments of clarity. I could see with my own eyes God’s rich plan of redemption in the colorful faces passing me by.
It motivated me to realize, again, that God brought me into His plan – long ago – and was using me and the team to further His kingdom. It was no mere coincidence that our team settled in Siena for the summer. It was no mistake that we shared the gospel with lots of Italians, a Palestinian, an Israeli, several Romanians, and two guys from Togo.
It’s nothing for God to bring His children across the world to shine the light of Christ right into the lives and experiences of the people He wants to see know Him. I’m increasingly amazed by God’s grand plan of redemption, His commitment to establishing His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Plus, He chooses to use you and me as His image bearers – the awesome privilege of representing Jesus everywhere we go and in everything we do.
I was acutely aware of that fact as we interacted with the owners of our hostel, the baristas and gelato scoopers we encountered every day, even the wrinkled Italian grandma at whom we waved from our window whenever she passed. It was no mistake we were there, in that moment, shining the light of the Gospel in Siena.
We must not take lightly the role God has called us to in advancing His kingdom. We may never know, this side of heaven, how He used the hundreds of spiritual conversations we had with students about the Gospel. It’s an awesome privilege to be ambassadors for Christ.
Six weeks later I was back in Portland, Oregon shopping at Albertsons and stopped by Starbucks to help re‐adjust my expectations of a good cup of coffee. I contemplated how God’s kingdom spreads all over the world – from the cobblestone streets in Siena to the cashier at the grocery store in Portland. And no matter what career path we choose, no matter what stage of life we’re in, we’re called, as God’s image bearers, to participate in the kingdom of God.
I find it pretty amazing that the Lord has a specific call and purpose for all of His children, don’t you? “For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
The purpose behind this little guidebook is to help you figure out your particular call, your particular part in God’s kingdom.
Chances are, since you’re reading these words, you’re in search of that seemingly elusive call of God. To some it feels like this “call” is reserved for those extraordinarily dedicated individuals headed for the remotest parts of the earth. “Certainly He’ll never call me, I’m not spiritual enough. I barely know the Bible, I’m afraid to share my faith.”
There’s one part of you that hopes to never hear that call, you’re happy with the plans you’ve made. You’re comfortable right where you are. I’d venture to guess (because you’re reading these words) that there’s another part of you that longs with anticipation for God to point His finger at you, calling you out of a long lineup to represent Him somewhere in the world.
Sometimes, during seasons of decision‐making, several voices compete for our attention. How do you know if you’re hearing God’s call or someone else’s? Well‐meaning friends and family offer advice, share experiences, provide business connections, and push toward choices promising long‐term stability and financial security. How do you discern which advice and information is coming from God?
Imagine if you will...
When you started college your goal was to become an Engineer like your dad. You worked hard to do well in class and maintain a GPA as close as possible to a 4.0. Your dad repeatedly tells you, “You were made to be an engineer.” He’s so proud of you, which feels pretty good. Then, you spend a summer on a mission trip in South America. Your life, goals, passions, and desires are turned upside down as the Lord leads you in a completely new direction. Vocational ministry was never an option... until now.
How will you ever break the news to your parents? Is it really fair to change direction after they’ve invested in your education?
Now, maybe you’re majoring in Spanish. You’ve invested all four years of college in ministry. You love sharing your faith and teaching others to follow Jesus, and as much as you want to be in full‐time ministry, the Lord is opening doors for you to teach school in the inner city of Chicago.
How do you make sense of a drastic change of purpose?
You have no idea what you’re supposed to do with your life. You recently graduated with a degree in Geology, and you currently manage a Starbucks. Even if jobs for geologists were abundant and available, you have no interest in pursuing that avenue. In fact, the more you read the Bible, the more aware you are of God’s kingdom and your role in living out and proclaiming the Gospel. But, you have absolutely no idea what to do or how to do it.
Where do you start? How do you find and pursue “kingdom” options?
The proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” helped you persevere through four years of Business school. A good paying job, a loving spouse, a nice house in suburbia, a few kids, and, of course, finding a good church fit in there somewhere too. Your involvement in leadership with Cru was an important component of your spiritual growth in college, but now, a few years have passed by, and things aren’t playing out like you planned.
You have a decent job; you’re marginally involved in church, but the zeal for the Gospel which at one time fueled your passion for ministry is running way low. You’re just not sure where you fit in ministry. Somehow the picture perfect became so much more important than your love for and devotion to Jesus.
What does it take to develop meaning and purpose in ministry, and deepen your devotion for the Lord once you’ve finished school?
Scenarios like these play out in our lives as God’s children all of the time. He moves in our hearts, gifts us with abilities and passions to help build His kingdom, and calls us His children. He relentlessly pursues and calls us to follow Him in mysterious and sometimes confusing ways. He urges us to worship Him through sacrifice and surrender. He allows heartache and sorrow to draw us closer to a life of dependence. He then actually uses us as His ambassadors to pass on the great news of the Gospel.
God’s call is, on one hand, very personal, unique, sort of mystical, and sometimes even experiential. On the other hand, it’s quite clear and very similar for every believer.
The purpose of this study is to explore 2 aspects of God’s call.
I guarantee this guidebook won’t answer all of your questions, but it’s my prayer it will provide helpful principles regarding God’s call that will help you make Gospel‐centered decisions throughout your life.
I’ve purposefully included my journey as a backdrop because I’m an ordinary person, chosen by God to bear fruit for the kingdom. I want to share the ways in which He used His Word, people, and experiences to show me His call.
I’m amazed how the Lord works in and through our lives in such a personal way to help fulfill His grand and eternal purpose. He has plans for you.
I hope to help you discover and embrace God’s call.
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