This past weekend I shared breakfast with my YS roommate. Bruegger’s Bagels and chocolate milk, case you were wondering. Our discussion centered around the question, how do you know when God is moving you? It a good question and often asked when we feel the push to move on to something else. As we talked, I thought about my own experiences and knowing when God was moving me from one spot to the next. Here’s what I learned:
1. Prayer. 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.
2. 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. Tell them what they need to know. Ask them to pray specific 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.
3. Watch and Know. God speaks through what happens around us. Events and circumstances help to push us the direction God wants us to go. I am a firm believer that God opens and closes doors as He deems necessary. Watch what’s happening around. Too often, irony is the hand of God turning a door knob. And 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 does not 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.
I can’t say that these three things were my own brain child. They were shared with my wife and I many years again when we were considering our first full time call to serve a ministry. We practiced each of these three 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 been blessed.
The only other suggestion I would add is 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 of the bridge.
Not too long 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 we’re 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 closed every single time. 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 w would talk about 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.
Just have to let him Captain the ship, then enjoy the cruise.
Jay Higham is the youth pastor at Crossroads Youth Ministry at St. Paul’s.