God advances us before we’re ready. I was listening to “Perfectionism and Performance,” a recent podcast Jill Monaco did with Shelby Harveaux, when that statement jumped out.
Just as some of our favorite Bible characters thought, Oh, no! Not me, Lord!, we tend to feel we’re not equipped or ready to take on a big Kingdom job. From Moses’ protests in Exodus 3 and 4 to Mary’s exclamation of awe in Luke 1 (“How can this be?”), people have questioned God’s call. Today, our humanistic culture encourages achievement and self-promotion by our own means — through plodding steps of education, experience and ladder-climbing.
The thought of being called before I was ready brought a memory. I had been a story editor for a mission organization — a position that was snugly within my comfort zone — for about five months when Jim, the story director, approached me.
“We need someone to do interviews in the Philippines,” he said. “Would you like to go?”
The Philippines? I thought. That location is certainly out of the blue. I had only been to exotic places on — for the most part — cushy beach vacations.
And why me? I hadn’t interviewed anyone in years. I wasn’t sure I could remember how, especially when the guidelines for story development were rather vague. The story team was always learning new ways to tell God’s story, and we worked at being more effective in doing it. Humility was one of the consequences.
Well, Jim thinks I can do it, I thought. A part of me wanted to try. A different part of me wanted to crawl back into my cubicle.
“I’ll pray about it,” I responded.
As the days unfolded, it became clear that God had chosen me for this trip. Accompanied by three young men — a photographer and two videographers — I flew to Manila and proceeded to interview five women and three men there and in Bagabag. I wasn’t sure whether I’d gathered good material or not, but their stories of faith were intriguing. With guidance from my companions and my editor, I managed to eke out a half-dozen God stories.
Our management had identified Jenny as the mission magazine’s cover girl for the focus on the Philippines. Halfway through her interview, Mitch, one of the videographers, stopped shooting. He had heard a central conflict and identified it as the basis for a strong story line: personal redemption. God rescued Jenny from a lifetime of feeling ugly and inferior. He helped Jenny see herself as He did: a beautiful child of God. He planted people in her path who acknowledged her worth and directed her to greater things. God is like that.
Our Lord built a heart connection between me and Jenny. He showed me, once again, that no matter where you go in this world, people are struggling with the same issues. And here are a few other things I’ve learned from stepping out of my comfort zone.
God sees the best in us.
I recently heard a pastor say when God looks at us, He sees things that aren’t yet done. He sees things that could be. He’s always at work in us and through us, yet we may feel unworthy, uncertain and unprepared. If you’re feeling called beyond what you think you can do, remember His strength is perfected in our weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9.)
God leads us to things beyond our imagination.
We can be like Jonah and run from God, or we can embrace the call and run the race. When we follow His lead, we’ll be able to look back and wonder how we ever accomplished things. We’ll know with certainty that those things aren’t just ours — they’re both ours and His. What an amazing partnership we have available to us!
God invites us to embrace the call.
Have you been thinking about doing something bigger than you believe you can do? Something beyond your dreams? Have you been putting something off? Maybe something you believe God is calling you to? I encourage you to seek wise counsel and pray for confirmation … and then go for it!