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Do you ever feel guilty about pursuing a dream God has placed upon your heart?

I’ve heard women say things like “Who am I to have a dream?” or “Shouldn’t I be content with my life? Why does there have to be something more like a dream or a calling?”

I wouldn’t say it’s being selfish to pursue a calling that God has placed on your heart. I would say it’s being  obedient. If a calling is truly from God, to not pursue it is to not believe He will equip you to where He has called you.

Although God calls each of us to faith, obedience, and to share the Gospel with others and make disciples of new believers, I strongly believe God also has a specific calling for each of us, as well. And that calling – or dream – is as unique to us as our fingerprints. It’s woven onto the fabric of our hearts. And I believe God has dreamed of the day we would each discover that dream and calling He’s placed on our lives so we can live it out for His glory.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (NASB). The word “workmanship” in that verse (the New Living Translation uses the word “masterpiece”) comes from the Greek word, “poiema” where we get our English word “poem.” So, a more literal interpretation of the first part of that verse would be “We are God’s poem” – His unique expression of Who He is and the great things He can do. So, when you are living out the calling He has placed on your heart, you are showing the world Who He is and what He can do through you.

One of the reasons we can feel guilty or selfish about pursuing a dream is because we can confuse God’s calling on our life with our own personal desires and ambitions. While the pursuit of  our ambitions can result in the neglect of our loved ones and compromise of our values and convictions, the pursuit of God’s calling on our lives will never require disobedience or compromise. Nor will God’s calling require you to “go out on your own” and act independently of Him. God always calls us to a greater dependence on Him so that we realize we can do nothing  apart from Him  (John 15:5).

So how can you be sure a calling is from God in order to pursue it guilt-free?

  1. Your calling is something that glorifies God, not you. Most of us have ambitions or goals of what we’d like to accomplish, but is the motivation for self glorification or that God be exalted? I talk with many people who dream of publishing a book for the notoriety, the “extra income” (both of which rarely result from publishing a book, by the way), and even “a sense of accomplishment.” But a calling from God is always beyond ourselves. It’s not motivated in our own ambitions or what we want to accomplish, personally. It’s about the One who is whispering to us what is important to Him. And it’s about responding to the One who has given us certain abilities and is waiting to bless us and others through our surrender of those abilities for His renown, not ours. The “fruit” and end result of God’s calling on our lives is that He is glorified, even if we suffer.
  1. Your calling is something God controls, not you. I’ve also heard from many people who are frustrated with their inability to “achieve the dream” or “pursue the calling.” But where God guides, He provides. He often calls us to something that is beyond us so that we have to depend on Him in order to accomplish it. If you are striving to achieve your dream at what seems like all costs, then perhaps it is your dream you are chasing and not God’s dream for you. When God calls you to something, He leads and you follow. Let Him open the doors rather than trying to push through them, yourself.
  2. Your calling isn’t always the fun thing, but it’s the right thing. When we follow Christ, we aren’t promised continual blue skies and unlimited happiness. To the contrary, Jesus said following Him involves denying ourselves and picking up our cross. That means we will suffer at times. You and I offer refer to our “passion” when we talk about a calling. And yet the true definition of passion is “a willingness to suffer.” It means we will experience situations that cause us to depend on Him all the more. But there is a deep joy that comes from the peace and satisfaction of knowing we are in God’s will.
  3. Your calling is something you must do in order to experience peace. I know many men who are pastors today but never sought that position. They never said from the time they were young “I want to grow up and be a pastor.”  In fact, like Jonah, many of them initially ran from the assignment until, like Isaiah, they were finally able to say “Here am I, send me” (Isaiah 6:8).  When God is the One calling you to a task there is no choice of a “yes” or “no” on your part. There is only the question “when” – when will you surrender and when will He determine that you are ready for the assignment?  I often tell others God’s calling on your life is something you must do whether you are paid to do it or not. You must do it if you are to experience peace. You must do it in order to be obedient.

If God called us to live safe, manageable lives, then we wouldn’t really need Him, apart from saving our souls and letting us sit it out until we are called home to heaven. Yet God wants to do through you what is beyond you. He wants to receive glory from how you live your life from day to day, exhibiting the life of Christ through your mortal body.

Listen for His call, obey His voice, ask Him how you can glorify Him, and then step out in faith. A great adventure of living out His call on your life awaits. Pursue that calling – guilt-free.

Confused about what your specific calling or dream might be? Put the puzzle pieces together through the exercises in my book, When a Woman Discovers Her Dream.

Are you someone who is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop? Do you find it’s easier to expect the worst than the best? Do you find yourself fearful that God won’t really come through for you?

As women, our fears range from living out our lives alone, to not being able to have children, to losing our jobs or homes or someone close to us. Often,  our fears are rooted in a misunderstanding of who God really is. Depending on your upbringing, you may see God as the One who seeks to pay you  back for mistakes you’ve made in the past. Or, maybe you see Him as One who will think good and hard before coming to your aid when you find you are in need. But God isn’t an angry god with a vengeance to get back at you. He’s the God who loves you and wants your love and trust in return.

Hebrews 11:6 says: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (NIV, emphasis added).

God wants your faith — not your fear — that He really can come through for you. But in order to have faith in Him, you must know who He is and be convinced He’s trustworthy. So let me give you two steps that will help you get to know — and love — this God you no longer need to fear.

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Have you found yourself wondering if God was ever going to answer your prayer?

My friend, Author and Speaker Donna Jones, shares from her book — Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God what happened when she and her family didn’t give up on a prayer request.

Donna writes…

Just over a year ago our family saw the answer to a prayer that took 40 years to answer. In case you skimmed right over that last sentence, let me repeat the time frame again—40 years. Not 40 minutes. Not 40 days. Not even 40 months.

40 years.

40 years ago my brother-in-law became the first Christian in his family. After several years and a few awkward conversations, my husband followed his brother’s footsteps and became a believer, too. Together they began to pray for their mom and step-dad.

When JP and I married, I joined in praying. Once our kids became old enough to question why Grandma and Grandpa didn’t believe in God, they prayed, too.

There were seasons of intense prayer and seasons of scattered prayer.

Was it discouraging at times?  You bet.

Did my husband and his brother ever give up hope?  They sure did, especially when they were told, “Please don’t talk to us about God anymore.”

Respectfully, they stopped talking about God, but they never stopped praying. Or loving. Or visiting, or calling, or caring.

For 40 years.

About this time last year, my mother-in-law shocked us by announcing she was considering going to church “just to see.” We held our breath and continued to pray. She went and liked it. Several women invited her to lunch. These women were warm, thoughtful, even downright normal, and my mother-in-law liked them immediately. They invited her to join their home Bible study. She went “just to see.” She liked that, too.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, she called my husband and asked, “How do I become a Christian, exactly? I’ve been waiting for someone at church to tell me, but they never do.”

Why did it take 40 years of prayer before my mother-in-law made a spiritual commitment?  Honestly, I have no idea. Sometimes we just don’t know why God works the way He does.

What I do know is this: we’re glad we didn’t stop praying, even if it took years to see the answer.

Maybe you’ve prayed for something—or someone— near and dear to your heart too, but have yet to see God answer. Perhaps you’re tempted to give up. You might even be toying with thoughts about how God doesn’t hear your prayers or care about your concerns. It’s easy to give up when we don’t see immediate results. And if people around us seem to have their prayers answered almost instantaneously? Well, it’s like adding salt to the wound.

Unanswered prayer can make us feel invisible.

If we begin to believe we’re invisible to God we’ll likely throw up our hands in despair and ask, “Why bother?”

The enemy would like nothing more than to sideline you and your prayers by tempting you to believe God doesn’t see you or hear you, and therefore, doesn’t care for you.

But God does see. He does hear. You are not invisible. The cries of your heart do not go unnoticed. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (1 Chronicles 16:9).

The fact that you are reading these words right now is proof.  It’s God’s way of bending low to say “I see. I know.”

May I tenderly whisper something the devil doesn’t want you to hear? Keep on praying and don’t stop. Don’t let the enemy win.

Personally, I find great comfort in Jesus’ words,

Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

It’s easy to think of prayer as a one-stop deal. But Jesus so clearly indicates that prayer is an ongoing pursuit. Prayer is pressing in and pressing on, even when the pressure’s up.

If you’ve been tempted to stop praying, don’t. If you’ve been tempted to stop caring, don’t do that either. When you are tempted to give up, look up. And pray.

Even if it takes 40 years to see the answer.

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time

we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

For your chance to win a free copy of Donna’s book, leave a comment below about what you are waiting on God for, and share this post on your social media page. (U.S. residents only for book giveaway, please.)

DonnaJonesDonna Jones is the author of Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God, Raising Kids with Good Manners, and Taming Your Family Zoo. A national and international speaker, Donna has spoken from coast to coast and on four continents helping women find and follow God in real, everyday life. Her favorite role is wife to her pastor/hubby, JP, and mom to their three wildly funny, young adult kids who frequently sit on her kitchen counter just to chat. For more encouragement and free resources connect with Donna at