One of my favourite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11;
‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’
God loves me so much that He has a specific plan for me to prosper, and to give me hope and a future!
But does anyone else often feel like they need God to let them in on these plans? It often feels hard to be part of them when we don’t have a clue what they are!
I have had a really clear sense of calling on my life for years and I feel very blessed in that. However, this means people often ask me how to work out God’s call on their life! I’m no expert, and I get it wrong more than I get it right, but I hope that one of the following ideas might give you some inspiration and encouragement. Each one involves journaling or writing in a different way.
The ideas approach
Maybe you’re all ideas, but less action – you have so many thoughts that you don’t know what to do with them all. One day you’re planning to launch a new justice ministry, the next you’re writing a book, then you’re planning a new campaign in your community. But which, of all these plans, is God asking you to put into action and be part of?
When I have an idea I’m excited about, I get a blank page in my notebook or on my laptop, title it with my latest idea, and then start dreaming and planning. I keep coming back to it and add details and things to ponder. Most of these ideas don’t get looked at more than once – God lets me forget the idea because it’s not His plan. Some ideas start to take shape, but never get beyond a few thoughts. Others start to feel more tangible and exciting. At this stage, I start to take them more seriously – maybe God is directing this in His will. I’ll ask someone else to have a look at them, maybe send an email to explore what’s possible. If God keeps opening doors, then I keep pressing. If not, I’ll save it and be happy in the knowledge it’s not for now.
The step by step approach
Maybe you don’t even know where to start. You’ve just pottered along where life takes you, but don’t even really know what you want to do, let alone what GOD wants you to do!
Sometimes we need to start taking a more detailed look at our lives to see the plans God is weaving through our day-to-day and our year-in-year-out. Start to record and make lists of the gifts God has given you and the skills you have, coupled with records of prophecies said over you, Bible verses that stand out to you, and quotes from people who inspire you. When you look at them all together, they can start to reveal patterns in the things that God is placing in your heart and life.
Track things over time and notice the themes that come up. What did you really enjoy about your degree, or what are you best at in your current job? Are there things you’re gifted in that you didn’t notice until you started thinking back through different roles in different times? Sometimes big direction comes from the smaller details that God uses as the first signpost.
The heart to heart approach
Maybe you struggle to keep this all in your head. Is it you, is it God, or is it a distraction? Maybe you feel as though there’s a big mess of plans and dreams, hopes, failures and fears?
Sometimes, we need to start by pouring out everything in us. Sit down to write three letters to God. You could do this all on one day or spread them over days or weeks.
In the first letter, write everything you feel about the world, in the second everything you feel about yourself, and in the third, everything you feel about God. What are you excited about, where do you feel weak? What do you see when you look at the world, and what breaks your heart? How do you see God moving, what about Him is standing out to you at this time?
In off-loading our heads and hearts we can often achieve two things we’re usually too busy for. Firstly, we start to straighten out our ideas and unknot the web. Secondly, we create a quieter headspace for the Holy Spirit to move in and for God to talk into.
Instead of letters, you might like to have three coffee dates with a close friend to talk these things through, write three songs, make three pieces of art – you do you!
Give it a go
You might find, like me, you benefit from a combination of all these ideas. So feel free to dip in and out and see what suits you. Make sure you do everything with prayer too – the best way to learn God’s will and plan is to communicate with Him! So grab a pen, paper and a cup of tea, and open your heart, and the pages of your book, to God’s wonderful will for your fantastic future.