One Step at a Time


Don’t wait for a road map to your calling; God probably isn't going to give you one. But He won’t leave you to figure it out on your own, either.

In my early 20's I was grappling with common questions that many college students face: “Why am I here?” “What is my purpose?” “How can my life have the most impact?” and “How do I make my life count?”

One early Sunday morning, I attended church in Boise, Idaho to help me discover answers to my questions. At the end of the service, the pastor invited those who wanted to ask Christ into their lives to come forward to talk to him. During his invitation he proclaimed, “God has a wonderful plan for your life!” The word “wonderful” filled my heart with hope for a perfect existence, free from the frustration of doubting my significance in the world.

The pastor’s statement made me think that any day I would be instantly transformed, much in the same way that Cinderella was transformed by her fairy godmother. I envisioned myself with a clearly-defined mission from God. I thought He would nudge me and the Holy Spirit would whisper, Okay, Shana. Here is my purpose for your life. This is what I have called you to do, and here is how you do it. In the same way that I would navigate through a city with a map, I thought I would instantly know how to get from Point A--where I was--to Point Z, where I would fulfill God’s purpose for my life.

Boy, was I wrong.

Since then I have learned that a calling is not a destination; it’s a journey—and it’s revealed by God day by day—but only a few of the main intersections are marked. He has shown me that my calling is to glorify Him through gifts of written and verbal communication, but in over 20 years I have never known the entirety of His plan. Instead, I have known one—or two—steps at a time.

Maybe your journey has been the same, and perhaps it has been frustrating. Like me, perhaps God has revealed how He wants you to serve Him. He wants you to work as a missionary or to discover a cure for cancer, but He hasn’t given you the map for your entire trip. To your chagrin He hasn’t spoken to your spirit and said, Today, you will telephone John and he will put you into contact with Susan who will offer you a training opportunity. Then, you will work for two years learning. Finally, you will develop a cure for cancer.

Maybe you have thought, Well, if it’s God’s will that I serve Him in a particular way, why doesn’t He just give me the whole picture up front? Why does He only reveal one step or two steps at a time? The Bible points to an encouraging answer:

Hebrews 11 describes many of God’s people who walked out God’s plan for their lives without understanding the big picture. For example . . .

  • “By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” (verse 7)
  • “By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (verse 8)
  • “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” (verse 23)

These and many other passages in Scripture show us that God never rolls out our entire path before us. Instead, he asks us to walk by faith so that our relationship with Him grows. Faith is the golden thread that ties your heart to His. If God told you exactly how your purpose would play out every moment of every day, how would your faith be strengthened?

Choosing faith and trust, in spite of what we don’t see ahead, changes us from fearful to confident. When we walk in faith, it transforms us into obedient children who will do God’s will even when we don’t understand the big picture.

If you wish God would tell you more, instead of giving you one step at a time, I invite you to tell Him today that you surrender to His lordship as He takes you little by little into His unfolding plan.

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