A while back I was talking with a fellow youth worker at a bagel shop. Our discussion centered around the question: how do you know when God is moving you?
It’s a good question and often asked when we feel the push to move on to a new ministry or call. As we talked, I thought about my own experiences and how my wife and I knew when God was moving us from one ministry to the next. Here’s what I’ve learned.
GET ON YOUR KNEES AND PRAY
Without a doubt, prayer is the most important part of the process. Seeking God diligently is a must. Each time we thought a move was coming, my wife and I bathed the possibilities in prayer. We pray together, we pray separately, we pray for specifics, and we pray for the unknown.
We’re not afraid to ask God to answer and provide the details. Like Gideon, we put out the fleece and ask God to send the dew. And don’t forget, prayer is a two-way street. Spend as much time listening for God as you do listing your requests and demands. God still speaks, we just have to learn to listen.
SEEK GODLY WISDOM
Wise counsel is priceless. Surround yourself with trusted, Godly men and women, who can give you unbiased and confidential advice and support. These need to be people who love you and can be strong enough to say no and tell you when it’s time to go. Tell them what they need to know. Ask them to pray specifically for you for a designated time frame, then set up a time when you can meet and hear what they think God is saying and listen! The counsel they bring might not be what you want to hear.
WATCH AND KNOW
God speaks through what happens around us. Events and circumstances help to push us in the direction God wants us to go. I am a firm believer that God opens and closes doors as He deems necessary. Watch for what’s happening around. Too often, irony is the hand of God turning a door knob.
KNOW YOUR HISTORY
How has God moved you in the past? How has He moved in others’ lives? How did He move people in the New Testament? How did He move people in the Old Testament? Our God doesn’t change. The same God who moved Abram to an unknown country is the God who might be moving you into the unknown. Knowing how He works will help you recognize when He is moving in your life.
These four ideas are not of my own. They were shared with my wife and I many years ago when we were considering our first full time call to serve in a ministry. We practiced each of these points then, and God was faithful in revealing what we needed to know and where we needed to be. Since then, we have applied each point for every move we’ve made, and we have continued to watch God do amazing things.
The only other suggestion I would add is the idea of total surrender. Two captains cannot steer the ship. Each one will have his own agenda and desired destination. With both at the helm, confusion reigns. The ship needs one captain and one first officer. The captain commands the ship. He sets the direction and navigates the terrain. The first officer’s place is to obey the captain, follow his lead, and stay on course even when the captain steps off the bridge.
A couple of years ago, I staged a mutiny. My wife and I knew we were done serving a ministry and that it was time to move on. What we didn’t know was the where. For us, the when was as soon as possible. So, we made some phone calls, did the job search, and let some people know we were looking. But really, our minds were made up. We were going back to Philadelphia. My office was packed into boxes, and in my mind, I was already planning for a new youth ministry. We did everything we could to make this happen. But despite all our efforts, nothing was working out. We pushed and pushed and pushed. But the doors kept closing.
After four months of trying to force the square peg into the round hole, the final door was slammed in our faces. We were not moving back to Philly. This was a crushing realization for me. Because of the nature of the work I was doing, I had to resolve to do what I was called to do.
I asked for a peace about everything and the ability to surrender the situation and wait on God. Three months later, we heard the youth pastor who was serving the church we were attending had left. We went away for a weekend as a family right after hearing about the opening. My wife and I agreed to pray about the news, and we would talk about it afterward. When we returned home, I made a call. Three weeks later, I had a new call. God moved me when He was ready to move me. He was just waiting for me to surrender to Him.
If you are at that point, the point where you ask yourself, “Is God moving me right now?” take the time to pray, seek counsel, watch for the signs, and surrender to what God is doing. He’s got it all taken care of, you just have to let him captain the ship, then enjoy the cruise.
– Jay Higham