I have spent the past seven years on what feels like a roller coaster of discovery— in an attempt to seek after my true purpose and calling. If someone would have told me ten years ago that I would be enrolled in seminary, pursuing a Master of Divinity degree from Emory, I would have laughed- very hard actually! Where I thought I would be and where I have actually ended up is a divine occurrence in and of itself, but I thought I would share my journey and the techniques that kept me listening to the voice of God, even when my flesh, my friends, and my family said “What in the world are you doing?!”
- FASTING: “IF YOUR EYE BE SINGLE”
In my pursuit of purpose, fasting has always played a significant role in clarifying my path. The Scripture says, that “The eye is the lamp of the body” and that “if your eye be single, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). I wonder what would happen if we narrowed down our focus to discovering His purpose and plan for our lives? According to Scripture, “our whole bodies [would] be full of [purpose].” In other words, whatever you behold, you become (2 Corinthians 3:18). If there was ever a grace that I could say the Lord has given me, I’d say it was the grace to fast. In fact, the very first time I called a fast, I knew nothing about fasting. I had been a sophomore in College, serving as a Campus Queen, majoring in English, and on my way to pledging a sorority. My plan was to graduate from undergrad with a pristine record and resume that would land me into law school. But something stopped me right in my tracks after I had begun attending Sunday night L.E.A.D. sessions at my now church, Embassy International Worship Center. I had begun to see a side of God that I had never known before, and all of a sudden I’d have vivid dreams that would wake me up in the middle of the night. I started to feel so overwhelmed by something that I could not explain, day and night, that I felt I had no choice but to commit to a fast for answers. With no guidance, no prompting, and no prepping I called a 3 days fast from ALL foods! Just like that. I know now, that this was a grace because it is STILL not easy for me to do this type of fast, unless The Lord prompts me. But I would soon find out that God was, in fact, calling me into a deeper relationship with Him— and this was just the tip of the Iceberg. I’d become so convicted about serving God, that everything about me and the plans I mapped out for myself before fasting had changed. My roommates would come into our dorm room to find me lying prostrate on my face in prayer. My creative writing class would turn into my time of writing, sharing, and discussing my time with The Lord, and even the English department would end up calling an intervention to see if I was okay. By the time I got into my senior year of college, I was sold out for God, and had made plans to attend Seminary instead of applying to law school. From that moment on, I knew that fasting was a life-changing practice that would help guide some of the most significant decisions and seasons of my life. Sometimes fasting is not always the first or most popular choice, but I believe that because of the extremity of its requirements and sacrifice behind it, God will always move in a significant way.
- TIME WITH GOD: “WHO DO MEN SAY THAT I AM”
Many will ask the question “who am I?” before answering the question, “Who is He?” Yet, Matthew 16:1 gives us a clear outline for one of the best strategies towards figuring out our purpose—prayer. If it were not for Peter’s private time with The Father, he would have never gotten a public revelation of Jesus as The Messiah. Not only did Peter’s private time with God give him revelation of Jesus, but it gave him access to keys that would reveal his purpose and calling. In Matthew 16:18, we see Jesus’ response to Peter saying, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Peter has now gained insight on who he is and a glimpse into his assignment. He would become the pillar, the stone, a foundation of the first church and an apostle of Jesus Christ. Yet, even though it would be years before God’s plan for Peter would be fully revealed, he had gained a clearer sense of purpose and direction for his life. This is an important principle to note in your pursuit towards purpose; that while prayer and fasting may release some of the mysteries of God for your life, Ecclesiastes 3:11 still stands: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Sometimes, God will paint a whole portrait of your future, right before your eyes, other times, you might be left with a nudge that guides you into the right direction. I remember asking the Lord in a dream to identify a specific area of my calling, and His exact words were “It is not for you to know right now” it wasn’t until a year later that I had the exact same dream, and this time, the answer was evident and I did not even have to ask. God is always speaking to us in more ways than one, and I believe that if we steward the silent seasons and the discreet nudges, with as much care as we give to the great signs, God will trust us with more of His heart.
- DEVELOPMENT: INVEST IN YOURSELF
Do not be afraid to invest in your development. Once you have discovered your purpose or the next steps towards it find a place that will help you grow. From the moment I learned about what God was calling me to do, I made the investment into becoming more knowledgeable and skilled in that area. This is not to say that schooling is a necessity for everyone, but every preacher, teacher, artist, writer, and songstress will need to invest in their personal training and development somewhere! Before Peter would go from being a disciple to an apostle of Jesus Christ, he would first need to walk with Jesus and receive training for the work of ministry. Finding a place or a program to help develop you in your purpose and calling will not only increase your ability, but expand your reach. There are some places you cannot go into without a valid certificate, license, or degree. It speaks volumes to know that the person coming to share with other people has actually invested in themselves and can be backed by a credible source. Once God has revealed your purpose to you, go ahead and make the investment to actually become good at what He’s calling you to do. After all, you will be doing it for the rest of your life. #Selah