I certainly appreciate it when God whispers in my ear, but there are times I’ve wished He had given me one of those ear trumpets; I can be so hard of hearing! I appreciate it much more when He speaks loudly and clearly.
A few months ago I wrote about a decision I was facing. At the end of that post, I expressed my frustration: “I’d like a postcard, please, God.”
A week later I wrote another post about my progress so far. I explained all the ways I’d sought God’s opinion on the matter, and that I’d made a decision to drop my involvement in a an organization at the end of 2011—giving me plenty of time to change my mind, should God speak up.
Well, here is the rest of the story.
Once I had come to a decision, I went back and shared it with the people whose advice I had sought. They were pretty encouraging—no red flags there. In fact, I experienced a growing sense of peace that I had chosen wisely.
Then, a few weeks ago, our church had a guest speaker who apparently reads my blog and knows my situation. At least, that’s what it felt like! Clearly, the Holy Spirit chose this vessel to speak directly to me.
At one part of the sermon, this anointed person explained in great detail that God could be moving us on to new things. First, however, we’d have to give up at least some of the things we were doing now. He used Jesus’s analogy about putting new wine in old wineskins to underscore his point:
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. (Luke 5:37-38)
As our speaker pointed out, there was nothing wrong with the old wineskin when it was first used to hold wine. It was exactly the right item for the purpose. But now, God was doing something new, and the old needed to make way. It isn’t that the old was bad, or the new was better. It’s more a matter of seasons. Things change over time.
I could immediately relate every word to the decision I’d been praying about. God has clearly used my past experiences in so many good ways, I can’t begin to list them all. In fact, He used that training to bring me to the point I’m at today. But now it’s time to move on. I can’t just keep adding activities to my life—the kingdom of God isn’t based on perennial overload. He’s directed me to take up new activities, so something old has to go.
Notice that this speaker didn’t tell me what to do. God had already done that, even though I wasn’t aware of a specific instance when He spoke to me. I’d only received a pretty vague impression, permission to make the change. This, however, was direct confirmation—an assurance that I was on the right track.
The final chapter came two weeks ago. I was at the office of the organization I was planning to leave, attending a committee meeting. After working through some logistics for events later this year, the next item on the agenda was planning for next spring. Specifically, several programs were being considered that were right smack in the middle of my area of greatest expertise. Of course, I’d be involved, wouldn’t I?
Gulp. Since the organization is already struggling for lack of volunteers, my leaving was going to have a definite impact. Yet, I had to tell them now, so they could plan accordingly. What would everyone else say? Would they be upset at me?
With a quick prayer and a moment to catch my breath, I explained that I was not going to be involved in 2012. My business and other commitments had expanded to the point where it was time to resign from my role there.
A couple of the other volunteers gasped. I’ve been a very involved fixture for eleven years, and had given no indication that I was thinking about leaving.
Then, to my astonishment, the organization’s director congratulated me! She had trained me years ago, had encouraged me to try new things, to develop my skills and confidence, and had actually been the one to suggest photography. Now her efforts were bearing fruit—at her expense. But she was able to look at the bigger picture and realize that both I and the community were going to benefit from this change. I was pretty impressed.
I’m still committed through the rest of 2011, and I intend to do the best job I can do. I want to leave on a positive note. I’m very excited about what God has for me next, although I have no clear understanding of the details. (Notice that Jesus never explained all the details when He called the apostles, either.)
The best part is knowing that I’m right in the center of God’s will—exactly where I belong!