After I got saved, my life was, and still is, about one thing: What does God want me to do now? I had such a powerful salvation experience that I figured that I just had to ask God, and he would answer quickly. That’s not what happened.
Over and over again I told God, “Please tell me what to do–I will do anything you say,” but I didn’t hear back. So, thinking about the parable of the little old lady that kept bugging a judge until he decided in her favor, I decided to bug God about this. I started praying the same prayer as many times each day as I could. I even took the knobs off of my car radio so that I would remember to pray rather than listen to the sweet rock and roll of the 70s; but it didn’t work. More than a year went by and I didn’t get any answer.
If you don’t know what to do, ask the preacher. They always have an answer.
My next idea was to ask the preacher. When you tell someone at church about a problem they always say, “Have you asked the preacher?” so I set out to ask the preacher. It made sense to me. I figured that he was much wiser than the rest of us and was certainly closer to God. He must have an inside track on how to get God to answer. When he heard my problem, though, he suggested that I also become a preacher, so that I could take over the church when he retired. I told him that I hadn’t received the magic “call” to become a preacher, but he told me not to worry about it. It would come later.
I promised the preacher I would keep his idea on my list of possibilities, but I was determined to hear from God, the specifics of what he wanted me to be when I grew up, and what I was supposed to do for him. So, my next idea was to force God to answer me through fasting. I didn’t know how this method worked on God, but I kept hearing testimonies from people who “fasted and prayed,” and they were getting answers. That’s why I decided to try it. I figured that, if nothing else, I would get God’s attention through sympathy and he would be prompted to say something. But that didn’t work, either.
Several years went by, with me trying every trick that I could think of, and I just couldn’t get an answer. I took all kinds of college classes, none of which really clicked with me, and I finally graduated. Still, after more than seven years and with two college degrees in hand, I refused to give up on the idea that God had a purpose for me. Only he could tell me the right thing to do with my future; so I kept on praying and, sometimes, fasting. Admittedly, after graduation I did have significant anxiety about not knowing whether to get a different degree, go to grad school, or just get a job at Blockbuster (ask someone 30 years or older if you don’t know what this is.)
And then it happened, and it was more glorious and more satisfying than I had ever imagined. Just like the day that I got saved, the invisible Holy Spirit came down from the clouds, lifted up my heart and put into my mind these words: “Go to medical school. I am sending you to places where missionaries can’t go.”
That was a good day.
Things I learned:
- You can’t expect God to reveal his plan for you until you have completely made him your lord. That’s probably why it took him seven years to answer me. Paul says that, if you die to your own agenda and live as if your fleshly ambitions are dead, THEN you will be able to find out God’s will (a paraphrase of Romans 12:1.)
- Single-mindedness to know God’s will, and pit bull-like resolve, are vital. You have to want to know God’s purpose for your life more than you want anything else.
- If you are doing number one and number two, then you will be praying. I don’t regret any of the things that I tried during those years of prayer and my short answer to how I found God’s purpose for my life would be, “Through prayer–a lot of prayer.”