‘God said’ has got to be the most weighty way to open a sentence, and yet it’s thrown about willy nilly by Christians everywhere. The problem is the fakes that abuse those words to guilt trip church-goers into putting an extra in the offering plate only so they can turn up next week in a shiny lambo. Needless to say, the words ‘God said’ have received some bad press. It’s not that we don’t believe God speaks anymore, it’s just that we feel that we have to be extra cautious when accepting someone’s Word from the Lord as an actual message from God. Things get tricky when people say that God has spoken to them concerning you. Nobody can claim infallibility (even the Pope, but we’ll have that discussion another day) and coupled with the fact that humans generally can’t be trusted, it becomes very difficult to decipher whether God has actually spoken to individual, whether they ‘heard’ the wrong thing or if they have an ulterior motive. When someone gives you a Word from God here’s the dilemma: how much can we believe what they say to be true. However, a whole new dilemma comes about when God speaks to you directly. The question stops being, how do I know it was God to ‘do I want to listen to what God has to say.’ When God told me to metaphorically speaking, ‘pick up my bed and walk’ I wasn’t expecting to have to leave my baby behind.
You don’t have to turn too many pages of your Bible to see that God says some seemingly outrageous things. Telling Abraham to offer Isaac his son as a sacrifice to him, can definitely be included amongst God’s most eyebrow raising utterances. I won’t lie, I thought all those seemingly outrageous commands were an Old Testament phenomenon. Little did I know that God was still in the ‘completely baffling you and forcing you to really question how much you are committed to him’ mood. Last year January, I asked God to have his way in my life, and he told me to abandon the very thing that fed my soul, warmed my heart and caused my eyes to overspill with tears of joy: my budding acting career.
No, I am not a celebrity before you start googling my name, but I did have big dreams of living The Dream; a life on the stage, screen, and the occasional red carpet appearance in between. For the longest time I have loved acting, and from the age 14 I have dedicated the my time to learning and crafting the kind of actor I wanted to be. I’m the sort of person who sets sights on a goal and works tirelessly until I see the vision fulfilled, and that was exactly the motivation in which I pursued becoming a successful actress. Training, agent searching, open auditioning, until hey presto! I found my agent and people started offering me money for doing the thing I loved most. I couldn’t wait to finish University so I could commit to pursuing the dream full time, until it dawned on me that becoming an actress had at no point been attached to the words: God said. You can’t get through a church service without someone mentioning that we live to fulfil what God has called us to do; one day I realised that I had no clue whether acting was what God wanted me to pursue as my day job.
I took to my knees to pray. I remember vividly saying ‘Lord if acting isn’t what you want me to do, then I don’t want to do it’, ‘What would you like me to do with my time?’
What did I hear?
Weeks snowballed into months of waiting on the Lord but my prayer remained persistent. Two things on waiting on The Lord while we’re here:
1) It’s not necessarily going to be a short wait so keep yourself entertained by worshipping God just because he’s great and don’t allow yourself to be consumed by the answer you’re longing for.
2) You might not like what’s on the other end of the phone.
What I didn’t realise when I was asking God to direct my life and declaring ‘if you can use anything Lord, you can use me,’ is that God was taking me seriously and that God’s plan wasn’t going to be a bigger version of the plan I had concocted for myself. I remember I was at church when I heard God loud and clear:
At first I was confused. Me? Business? When had I ever indicated to God that I wanted to do business? In fact it sounded like the complete opposite of what I wanted to do. I like routine and certainty and business has always involved a high element of risk. I carried on praying, maybe half expecting God to change his mind, but mostly because business wasn’t enough to run with. So after momentary breakthrough I was back to my knees waiting on the Lord with ears open wide. This time I only had to wait weeks before God responded that I should read up on the financial market. Ok, I could run with that: Business and Finance. I was so glad to have found direction I almost didn’t realise that this meant no more acting. I had asked God what he wanted me to do and nowhere had he mentioned taking on a new persona as a day to day activity.
This week I was watching Orange is the New Black ( if you aren’t already hooked there’s no time like the present to start watching) and was reminded of all the dreams I had previously had that weren’t going to be realised. I remembered how I had called my agent and told him that the the game was up and that there was a high chance I would never perform in front of people again. I wept all over again.
It’s been over a year and the pain that came with closing the door that would have allowed me an easy return to the dream I had birthed, still chokes my throat with tears and has me sometimes wondering, what if?
What if I hadn’t heard right?
Reading the Abraham story does more than enough to emphasise the importance of consistrntly seeking God so that you’re always up to date on God’s will on a matter. For those who don’t know how the story goes : Abraham had been praying for a child for a very long time, after his wife goes past the age where she’s able to conceive God blesses them with Isaac, God tells Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to him and then just at the point where we could call it quits for Isaac, God provides a ram and tells Abraham to sacrifice that instead. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened if Abraham didn’t hear God when he exchanged Isaac’s fate with the Ram’s. Imagine if Abraham had killed the son God had promised him. It would completely ruin God’s plan to make him a father of many nations. See I’m not deluded. I know that getting told you have to kill your son isn’t quite the same as having to bury your dream, but it’s the only thing I can equate how I felt/still feel to. It’s funny because we pray and fast to hear from God and don’t ever consider that we won’t actually want to hear what God has to say. Once we know it’s God speaking (being sure of his voice comes with practicing hearing him) then we’re faced with whether or not we want to obey.
What if hadn’t succumbed?
Life would be so different if I hadn’t followed God’s Business and Finance direction. I wouldn’t be about to begin a Business Services Graduate scheme in a bank in September; I’d probably be spending my whole summer auditioning and praying I booked myself a role on a Drama that would take me to the big-time. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful, just scared and overwhelmed all at the same time as I remember that I no longer have my whole life planned out, and that I’m going to have to seek God for the next steps of my journey. Sometimes, when we receive instructions that we don’t like, we stop being willing servants of the Lord and start wishing we’d never asked, all the while taking for granted that Christ actually wanted to give his life for us on the cross. The thing about Christianity is that nothing Christ asks you to do will ever compare to what he’s already done for you, and if you think it was easy for him to succumb to the will of The Father, you’ve forgotten the bit of the story where Jesus begged for the cup to pass him by. When God refused, Jesus didn’t have a sulk and start weighing up the pros and cons of obeying, He answered ‘ Lord not my will, but yours be done.’
To everyone praying those ‘have your way, you can use me Lord,’ I hope you’re ready for what is to come. To those that aren’t, God will still ask you to sacrifice the things that you never thought you’d have to let go of. Whilst you’re feeling hard done by and regretting ever including God in your life decisions, remember, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice and anything you do in response to that sacrifice is an honour.
For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21
Living for Christ is the meaning of life and dying and getting to be with him is the only thing better than getting to live for him. You aren’t doing God a favour by serving him because getting to live for Christ is the best thing that ever happened to you. Stop letting pride stop you from choosing God’s will over your own, and start feeling privileged that you get to.
God bless and mucho loveio