Following the Light

&       All Bible verses from the New International Version

We have never truly breathed air nor seen light until we have breathed in the God-inspired Bible and see the world in the Bible's light.  Fyodor Dostoevsky

Why am I doing this, taking up a new career after 20 years? I wrestled with this question as I arrived for our weekly Bible study at church. Was it because God had called me to write? I hoped so, but wasn't sure. I was enjoying my time at the computer and the additional time at home with my family, but was it God's will? 

We were studying What Happens When Women Pray? by Evelyn Christianson. I was learning to pray simple, specific prayers, and this week I had one. "I am praying for confirmation, in the way of an affirmation of my writing, that God is calling me to write. I know God doesn't follow our time table," I explained, "but I would like that affirmation this week!"  I hurried on to say that I would understand if it didn't come this week and would continue to pursue writing until I got an answer, but I really wanted an answer soon. At the end of the lesson, we were given our assignment for the week - a word study on wait, waited and waiting!

What I was really praying for, was an acceptance of one of the many articles and query letters I had sent over the last three months. I had a growing collection of rejection slips, but no acceptance letters. As the week progressed, I thought about the last three months. I had made a trip back to my hometown and, with great trepidation, told my aunts I was changing careers. Aunt Jeanette had put me through nursing school and I felt like I was letting her down. My aunts had been like mothers to me ever since my mother had died over ten years before, and their respect meant a lot to me. They surprised me with their total acceptance, asking me what I was going to write about. Good question.  "Stuff, inspirational stuff, things that happen in my back yard and in my life, my problems and what I've learned, whatever God leads me to write." What an answer! 

I went home and continued to write in earnest. That fall, when my son went back to school, he had asked me "What is your career now?" He was filling out forms and the answer had always been "nurse".

"Freelance writer." I answered, "No, unpublished freelance writer."  Maybe by next year I could answer "published free lance writer." 

When I met a new neighbor and told her I worked at home, she asked me what I did. I told her I was a freelance writer. She said, "I always wanted to know what that was."

I answered without thinking, "It's a writer who doesn't get paid!" 

She took me seriously and asked "Why would anyone want to do that?"  Why would anyone want to do that? I guess that's what led to my prayer. The only acceptable answer for me was, "Because God wants me to write for Him."

By Friday, I realized there was only one more day of mail before our next Bible study. The mail brought three answers to my prayer! I received the registration form for my first Christian writers' conference. The second was a letter from my Aunt Jeannette, the one who put me through nursing school. Since she doesn't write many, it wasn't really a letter, but more of a note. Aunt Jeannette doesn't write many letters - she sends clippings and this one was about a writers' conference recently held in our hometown. I felt this was her way of giving me her blessing and permission for me to write. Then I opened the last envelope. It was an acceptance of my very first magazine article! Not just any article, but the one that would advance my career the most! 

Six days later I received another article acceptance. Talk about answers to prayer! Now, I had a mission to fulfill. I had no doubts that I was not only having fun, but doing God's will too. Who could ask for more?

&       I faced a crossroad. Describe a crossroad you have had, or a crossroad you are at now.

Finding God's Will

You see or hear something once. You take no particular notice. A second time and you are intrigued for a moment, a third time and you take notice. The Bible works that way.
It does not shriek something, it merely repeats it, showing us something again and again until it begins to register.
Herbert O'Driscoll

What is God's will? What does God want me to do? My biggest problem is that I twist that question into, What does God want my husband to do? Or my son, or my sister, or my friends. When I simplify the question and narrow it down to just me, it is somewhat easier to find God's will for my life. What does God want me to do? 

To follow God, we need to hear Him. But how does He speak to us today? Henry Blackaby makes this clear in Experiencing God. "God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purpose, and His ways."

&           In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in        various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed    heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2

&       But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:26-27 

&       All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

         How does God speak to us today?

Our primary source of receiving God's direction for our lives always need to be God's Word. The Bible is God's way of communicating to us today. Through prayer, which is fellowship with God, the Holy Spirit will often affirm the direction through circumstances and our relationships with others. He will also guide us as we study the Word. Remember that God will never lead you down a path that goes against His word. I felt God's calling to a writing career. My Bible study group joined with me to pray about it and God gave me clear answers. More often, direction isn't as clear. 

How do we know God's will? We've established that we find the answer in God's Word, but how do we retrieve it? How do we know God's will in our daily lives? Can we simply open our Bibles and find the answers to our many questions? No, we find the answers by making Scripture a part of our daily lives. My questions about continuing a writing career spurred me on to spend more time in Bible study. Familiarity with the Word will help us determine God's will. This takes daily Bible reading, studying and meditation. As we apply the teachings of the Bible in our daily lives and pray about God's will, we see answers.

&           And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

&           Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another withall wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:16-17 

         What does it mean to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly?

         Describe a circumstance when you could see God's word "at work in you."

Doing God's Will

The Bible is God's chart for you to steer by, to keep you from the bottom of the sea, and to show you where the harbor is, and how to reach it without running on rocks or bars. 
Henry Ward Beecher  

The next step was to do God's will. What Would Jesus Do? This became a popular question in the late 1990s. For some it was a reminder to seek God's guidance in daily life, for others it was just a fad. But let's take this a step further and ask, What Did Jesus Do? It is not enough to know God's will or even to desire God's will. We must do it. Make goals to accomplish the task God has given you. Then divide the task into steps. For example, when I changed careers I wrote an article about something I knew. This was only a first step toward my ultimate goal, writing what would strengthen others in their walk with the Lord.

After publishing my first article, I realized how little I knew. I felt God's call to a writing career, but the practical aspect was that I needed preparation. I attended writers' conferences, began a personal library of writing resources and joined Christian Writers Fellowship International, an organization for Christian writers. Then I laid out a plan for publishing further articles and books. 

&       Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it -- he will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

         In what areas of your life are you not doing what the Word says?

         What steps are you willing to make now, to do what God is asking you to do?

by Cherry Pedrick

Control, I feel like I need it desperately.
I want to control every part of my life . . .
My thoughts, my feelings, what I say and what I do.
And they must all be perfect! . . . perfect control over a perfect life.
This leads to failure, I know this, but still I try. 

Try harder, I tell myself.
If at last I gain control over some small part of my life, I seek more.
More control over more of my life.
This control gives me security. 

For, if I can control myself, I can trust myself, but can I really?
Eventually I make a mistake, a big one, a little one, it doesn't matter.
The trust is gone, the control is gone,
It was just an illusion, I know.
I seek to control again . . . my life . . . maybe someone else's.
The more control I seek, the less I have, the more out of control I become.

If I can't control myself, I can't trust myself.
Out of control and desperately craving control, where can I turn?
I  turn to my God, I  put my faith in Him, I give Him control of my life.
For now I know, this craving for control is really my lack of faith in God.

He is to be Master of my life.
How can He be Master if I cling to control?
We can't both be master of my life.
I have this struggle for control again and again.
Someday I'll give God complete control and let Him truly be Master.

This is my prayer.
This prayer has been answered though!
For He has said He will be my Master,
He has said He will take control.
It is only I who stand in the way.

Be sure to check out The Habit Change Workbook:
How to Break Bad Habits and Form Good Ones