I love the start of a new year. It’s become a tradition in my house for me to trap my husband in a car when we’re on a drive somewhere and force him to set goals for the upcoming year. With all the trapping and forcing, I’m sure you can see he loves it … just kidding! He abhors it. But he’ll always humor me and give me a few to write down. I also adore tracking our ambitions, so I’ll put them in the notes section of my phone. This way, throughout the year I can go back and check in to see if we’re hitting the mark.
Now don’t let this process fool you. I rarely accomplish the goals I have set, and the ones I write down are not always that amazing. I am, however, quite proud to say that I did in fact wash my face every day this past year, which was an actual goal of mine in 2022. Though to be honest, as a wife and mother of three who works in full-time ministry, washing my face every day is indeed a huge win!
But with each start of a new year I always think to myself—this is it. This is the year when I will let go of all my fears and inhibitions and step fully into the calling God has for me. This is soon followed by a wave of doubt and insecurity as I begin wondering how in the world I will step into the calling God has for me. How can I begin doing the things I know God is asking me to do in this season when washing my face and drinking water everyday are my literal goals for the year? How am I going to do anything for God when I am obviously barely surviving and simply trying to get all of my to-dos to-done?
Maybe you feel this way, too, from time to time. If so, friend, let me remind you (and myself) of a couple of things.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE
First of all, you’re not alone in feeling like you can’t do the things God has asked you to do. I think I often live with this feeling. But also, the calling God has for you, the dream He has put in your heart to do—friend, He’s not asking you to do it alone. And quite frankly, He doesn’t want you to. Figuring out all the steps to achieving what He is wanting to accomplish through you is not your job. And it’s not mine either.
As Jesus followers, our number one job is staying connected to Him. Jesus says:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”John 15:4-5
Apart from Him, we can do nothing … nothing. Yet so often, we seem to think everything, including our callings, relies on us and us alone. Sometimes I think this is an innate characteristic of women as we tend to be the ones running our households—trying to get all of our work done, housework finished, kids to practices, meals made, church responsibilities delegated. The list goes on and on! But take a breath for a minute and let the freedom of God’s design wash over you for a moment.
We see this design at work through the first church in the book of Acts. The disciples had been given a big task from Jesus (the same one He’s given us)—to go and make disciples and be His witnesses to the ends of the earth. That’s quite the mandate and it’s a whole lot to figure out. But what did they do first? They prayed. Acts 1:14 says,
“All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer.”
And after they prayed, the Holy Spirit came upon them and equipped them for their calling.
And this happened over and over. When they came up against opposition or weren’t sure what to do, they would pray. The Holy Spirit, the Helper, would then equip them with words and boldness, and they would simply walk in obedience.
“And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”Acts 4:31
And the same is true for us today as we each step into our callings.
You don’t have to figure it all out or make it all happen on your own. Rather, He wants to come alongside you and do it with you and through you. We pray, we rely on the Holy Spirit to equip us, and then we simply trust and follow. And, goodness, is that freeing!
IT’S TIME TO START MOVING
Once you begin walking with Jesus closely and in the freedom of His design, then, friend, it’s time to start moving! When we are connecting consistently with Jesus, we don’t get to just stay there in our cozy comfort zones. Running our race means walking in obedience—this is often the scariest part of all.
So often, I’m afraid of doing what I feel God is asking me to do, because I’m afraid I’m hearing myself and not Him. And if the same goes for you, sometimes, the only way to know if it’s He who is talking is to start trying. You have to begin doing what it is you think He is asking you to do. Trust me, once you take the first steps in the direction you think He’s calling you, if it’s not Him, you’ll know. But also keep in mind the more you connect with Him, the more you will recognize His voice.
As we press in to Him, we must push past insecurity, doubt, and fear and push forward in our calling. Because here’s the thing: our callings are not about us. They are about Jesus and they are for others, for all the people He died to save.
When I begin shrinking back from doing the things God has asked me to do, the Holy Spirit reminds me of that truth. How dare I doubt His ability to use me when He is the all-powerful, all-holy, Almighty God of the universe? How dare I hold back pouring out His love on others in the way He has asked me and designed me, simply because I’m afraid of what others might think or I’m unsure if I heard Him correctly? Because the fact of the matter is it’s not about me. There are people He wants to use me to reach, and there are people He wants to use you to reach … and they’re waiting on us.
So as Paul said in his final letter to Timothy, “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5, emphasis added).
May that be our goal for the year.
I am a Jesus follower who is passionate about moving His mission forward!
Along with the roles of wife and mother to three spunky little girls, I am also the founder of The Flourish Factory (a nonprofit for women in my community), an inspirational and motivational speaker, a seminary student, and am currently writing my first book all about pursuing the purpose God has given you and running your race!
To connect further, head to Gabbihartzell.com or find me on social media @gabbihartzell.