When we moved from California to Arizona over two and a half years ago, that move was very difficult for me. I gave up so much and have struggled since then. I’ve often thought about my ministries left behind and how I disconnected I am right now. And not because I haven’t wanted to get involved.
I’ve prayed about prayed about different ministry opportunities but every time I thought the idea had merit, I’ve received a resounding “no” from God. No matter how good the outreach sounds to me, He hasn’t approved. How can I possibly move forward when He hasn’t given me an opening anywhere?
I want to serve. I’ve always had a heart for ministry. I love giving of myself for Christ, helping others in whatever way He’s called me to, even in the very difficult ministries. But, here in Arizona, we are isolated – and that was before the pandemic. I’ve been alone and lonely, wondering if God is finished with me. Or if I did something that displeased Him, and He plopped me in the middle of the desert – literally.
A couple of weeks ago, God began dealing with my tendency to look back at those times with longing. Wasn’t’ that what Lot’s wife did? Hmmmm. I do not want to be a pillar of salt. He’s shown me that what He has for me isn’t found back there but is found by facing forward. By looking for what’s in store in the future. That’s where my focus and my heart belong.
At a very low point one recent Sunday morning, I prayed for God to speak to me through the Pastor’s message and show me what He wants from me. That morning my Pastor chose to talk about words. About how God speaks to us with words. About the need for us to use words to communicate God’s message. About the power of our words when we use them for God’s purpose.
I sat there stunned at the answer. I’ve been a writer for years, but writing has been just a piece of my ministry. It’s never been my sole focus of my calling. I now realize God brought me to the desert to learn that He wants me to work on my craft of writing and to make this a more important part of my life. To write stories that honor and glorify Him.
I also took some time to see what the Bible has to say about the need to look ahead. Looking forward is found in many Bible stories. What about the choice Moses made?
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26 (NKJV)
Moses chose to give up everything, to move into the desert with people who were not his own, and then to come back to lead God’s people. His task was difficult in the extreme, yet he chose to do this because he looked forward to what God had for him.
Jesus did not look back at the fun times he had with his friends and disciples. He didn’t long for his childhood days or home. He looked toward the work God had for him to do—that of dying on the cross and saving all who choose to believe in Him. He set his face toward that work and didn’t look back.
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for [Jesus] to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51
With the virus running rampant and so many of us staying at home, maybe there are others who are feeling adrift from the church and from doing God’s work. If so, keep praying. God has a purpose for you. He has a work for you to do.
Maybe you too can use words to reach someone for God. Writing a book might not be an option for you, but you could consider writing an email or even a little note to send in the mail. There are many lonely people out there who could use a word of encouragement—just something to let them know someone is thinking of them.
If you are so inclined, perhaps a phone call would be a good way to connect with someone. Or get together with a friend on a video call.
There are many ways to look ahead, instead of looking back at what we once had. Look ahead to what God wants you to do, and to what He has in store for you.
Look toward God’s purpose for you, and open your heart to hear His desire. He has an amazing plan.