- Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you. A prophet to the nations – that’s what I had in mind for you.” MSG
- Romans 11:29: “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable (He never withdraws the when once they are given and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call).” MSG
GPS is a wonderful invention. Because I travel so frequently, it’s often helped me recover from a wrong turn or a missed exit. I can always ‘get there from here’ with the help of the soft- spoken lady who gets me on track.
God is the original GPS. Regardless how far off His intended route we may wander, He will guide us to complete the journey He has in mind for us. Even though the journey may take longer than He had hoped, we will arrive at our destination if we keep our ears open for the guidance provided.
Many of us grew up with adults asking us the question, “So what do you want to be when you grow up?” It was fun when I was five – “A dancer and actress and maybe a singer!”
By ten I had decided I would be a journalist. I believe it was more an effort to identify with my much older brother (who was a news man) than follow any real interest of my own. But I discovered that I enjoyed it. It came easily and my teachers said I was good at it. And it made me seem more grown up, too. A journalist was a real career. And by that age I think I had come to the realization that Hollywood was not really a place for a chubby kid with ‘too curly’ hair. One Shirley Temple seemed like enough.
By the time I was a senior in high school, the questions inquiring about my plans for the future made me feel anxious, uneasy. It also felt invasive, a bit nosy, to be honest. The truth was I had absolutely no idea how to respond because I had no clue what the answer was. Or what answer the adults who asked expected of me.
I graduated and made choices about what to do. I chose a college and a major, although I felt unclear about whether it was right or not. I wrote letters to my high school boyfriend every day at his selected college across the country and lived for the mail each day. I worked a part time retail job and hung out with my friends. And never once did I think about what God might have wanted me to do with my life.
A month before my 20th birthday, I married that high school sweetheart. It was the one thing of which I was absolutely certain. And 37 years and three sons later, I am still just as sure. The night before we graduated from high school, he led me to the Lord. Together we walked our life, learning together, leading our boys to love and trust Christ. We did music lessons and Little League, Sunday school and homework at the kitchen table. My husband and I built careers, each establishing a business of our own. Neither of us had finished school, yet God had provided opportunities well beyond our expectations.
And even though it was a life that had evolved without a real master plan, it was a good life. A great life. And I always felt blessed. My brother used to say my husband and I lived a charmed life – that he had never known a couple so incredibly lucky. We knew it was never luck. We knew it was the blessings of our heavenly Father. We were grateful beyond belief and although we had challenges as all families do, I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t happy.
It wasn’t until after my sons were grown and gone that I began to think about this scripture: “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you. A prophet to the nations – that’s what I had in mind for you,” Jeremiah 1:5 (MSG).
Not until the nest was empty did I take a breath deep enough to consider the possibilities. What was it that He had sanctified me for? What was I ordained to do?
I began to seek God diligently, asking for that answer. I read scripture. I asked for input from my husband. I knew the answer was there, if I could just uncover it. I kept expecting a bolt of lightning to come from the sky. The good news is that He answered. But there was no flash-filled moment when I was struck with full understanding.
It came at an odd moment, as I was involved in an activity that I never guessed would provide me the answer I was seeking.
I lost my brother in 2010 after a 10-year fight with cardiac disease. He did as much as he could for as long as was possible. The 16-year age difference between us had not kept us from being close, and losing him was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I miss him every day. His wife asked me to speak at his memorial service; I said yes without hesitation. And although I had plenty of time to prepare my remarks, I arrived on the other coast, 2 days before the service with nothing but a blank sheet of paper.
Oddly, I wasn’t alarmed. I knew that somehow it would come. As I sat at the dining room table with my sister-in-law, I asked if she knew whether my brother had saved the cards and letters I had sent over the years. She was unsure, but went to his desk and looked through the drawers. They were there. Not all of them, but many from the past 20 years or so. It appeared that the ones that had meant the most to him were rubber banded together and tucked in the bottom drawer.
For the next couple of hours, I sat on the floor and read them. Some made me laugh. Others made me cry. It was a good afternoon. Out of the contents of that correspondence, the Lord began to weave the story I was supposed to tell to those who would come to honor the life of my dear Jack.
I got through it with only a moment or two when I had to pause to swallow hard. I shared moments of his life that they knew little of. When I took my seat at the end of my time at the podium, I felt a warm satisfaction. People were smiling through the tears. Later during the meal we all shared to celebrate Jack’s life, his friends and co-workers, most of whom I did not know, thanked me. “You made me laugh, you made me cry. But most of all, you made me glad I knew your brother.”
And there it was. I had written the words that God had given me and they had impacted people in a way I had not anticipated. Something about the way in which I had arranged letters on a page had meaning beyond anything I had ever imagined. I recognized in that moment: I am a writer. I am called to encourage, exhort and educate through my writing. My husband had told me so, many times, as did several friends. I had dismissed it, although I am unsure why. Perhaps it just wasn’t time yet.
What were you doing when you realized what you were meant to do? What was the dream or desire that you left behind to pursue the life that unfolded before you? What is the hope or the vision that God has shown you, even though it may seem fairly impossible at this point in your life?
It turns out that at age 10 when I decided to be a journalist, the pull of the Holy Spirit on my heart was presented, but for some reason, I had missed the significance. Thank you Lord for a second chance to hear you. I’m starting 40+ years later than you intended, so my commitment is to go all in to fulfill this call.
It is never too late to be what you were meant to become and it’s always too early to quit. “For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn,” Romans 11:29 (NLT). He never changes His mind about us or about His purpose for our life. It’s easy to tell ourselves we missed the moment, that the opportunity has passed. A year from now you may wish you’d started today. Don’t forget who you are. He certainly hasn’t.
So, what are you waiting for?