Sometimes when we come to a crossroads in life, we know we’re supposed to take a right turn and go in a new direction. It’s the leading God gives us to meet up with the purpose he has for our lives. Whether it’s to finally go to the doctor and address a nagging health issue, go to counseling, go back to school, change jobs or careers, (or go into ministry even!), these crossroads often call for a giant leap of faith. If it’s hard to take the righthand turn, our faith can help us.
In Luke, chapter one, Zechariah has an unexpected meeting with God’s angel. (Sometimes the purpose God has planned out for our lives is also unexpected.) The angel tells Zechariah that he’s about to be in a new ministry. The ministry of having a baby, and raising a son who will grow up to be John the Baptist. Zechariah likely thought he already knew God’s purpose for his life. He was already a priest, and both he and his wife Elizabeth were older – past the typical point when couples are having babies. Even though the angel is very specific, Zechariah doubts. The angel tells Zechariah that being he doubted, he will be muted until the baby is born.
I’m not picking on Zechariah. He had so many good qualities. He and Elizabeth were “righteous in God’s eyes” (Luke 1:6 NLT). Sometimes we can approach what we know is supposed to be our change in direction like Zechariah did. “What about this? What about that?” “How do I know this will really happen?” We don’t usually know the fine print of how things will turn out. When Zechariah doubted, the angel muted him. How often do we mute ourselves as we wrestle with our doubts and fears? Afraid of looking foolish by sharing how God is leading us keeps us silent and disconnected from people who could support our leaps of faith.
Let’s look at Mary.
Same chapter, same angel, very similar situation. The angel talked to Mary and told her about how she would give birth to the Messiah. Mary immediately believed. The angel responded:
“What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” (Luke 1:36-37 NLT)
What’s more. My two favorite words in this whole chapter! Friend, find your “what’s more” person! He or she is out there, I promise! When God is prompting us to change direction, to do a new thing, he provides a person we can talk to about these changes we’re about to step into.
What’s more, Elizabeth and Mary were going into ministry together. They may not have seen it this way, but I do. Elizabeth’s son would be John the Baptist. John the Baptist would lead people to find Jesus. Both of these women would lose their sons to murder, although I’m not clear if Elizabeth was still alive being she was “old” already when her son was born. Both of these “what’s more” ladies would raise sons that were a little different than the other kids on the block. Both of these women would watch their sons walk out of town and into full-time ministry.
What’s more, they both believed each other. They had each other to talk to about the word God had spoken into their lives. This is real support. (Not everyone we talk to is going to believe with us when we talk about these changes in direction we feel led to take. I would imagine some of Noah’s neighbors didn’t believe the ark he was building would one day float.)
We have choices to make in our God-prompted righthand turns. We can embrace it as a Mary; believe in God’s purpose for us and find our “what’s more” person to support us. We can speak up, step out in faith, and learn how to be comfortable not having all the answers ahead of time. Or, we can embrace it as a Zechariah: doubt we’re hearing God right, doubt the gifts that God has given us to accomplish his purpose, or doubt his calling for us. We can mute ourselves, hide in the corner, and be uncomfortable stepping out of the shadows.
“What if I make a mistake?” Yep. We all will. I’m getting more comfortable every day making mistakes. I know that they will happen. When I focus too closely on trying to be perfect and prevent mistakes, my eyes are off Jesus and on myself. I move too slowly or not at all. I forget to keep “the main thing” the main thing.
When we love God, and we try our best to hear him and step into the purpose he has for our lives, we step right into this promise:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT)
Here’s the amazing, amazing, amazing conclusion to the story of Zechariah and Mary: whether they doubted or immediately believed, God still fulfilled his purpose for their lives. Whether we are timid and keep quiet, or we go find our “what’s more” support team, God is still at work. “…For the word of God will never fail.” (Luke 1:37b NLT)
The featured image for this post is graphic art made by my “what’s more” partners in The Philippians 4 Project, a talented husband/wife team. I value their willingness to give me sound advice and ask me challenging questions, help me with graphics and so much more. I hope I can be an amazing “what’s more” partner for them, too.
So, who’s your “what’s more” partner?