Perhaps it is your desire to start a business.
Or you want to go back to school.
Maybe you want to relocate to a different state. Change careers. Or maybe you’re considering marrying someone.
You are convinced that if it were to work, life would finally feel like living on the other side of your promise land. The only thing is, this move is a life altering decision and would require such a move of God that you know you can’t just thoughtlessly dive in. You don’t quite have all the resources, the know how nor do you have the full picture or the exact next steps. All you are certain of at this point is your desire.
The question I usually get asked or I see people struggle with is, I want to do this but how do I know that this is from God? Or how do I know if this is the right time? If I make this move, without having it all together, will God help me?
So instead of moving on it you are just waiting. Waiting for a sign. Waiting for conditions to line up. Waiting for a prophetic word or for something to happen to let you know God is saying ‘it’s time.’ And now here you are battling uncertainty but also inaction, because, essentially, you are afraid and unsure.
Truth is discerning the calling of God or the right timing to accomplish anything is not always as clear cut as we would like it to be. Wouldn’t it be nice if you asked God, “shall i pursue?” And he just appeared by your bedside and said. “Do it girl!”
In my experience hearing from God concerning any decision requires much praying and being watchful while checking my heart and my motives to ensure I am in a place where I can hear God without my own biases.
So how do we know for sure?
Well, I’m a firm believer that if something is not practical, it’s not spiritual. I find that as Christians we sometimes err on the side of prayer and faith without really counting the cost, pretty similar to the whole notion of ‘name it and claim it’ without doing any saving and planning. And while I’m all for blind faith moves and supernatural dependence on God – because I’ve seen it in my life several times- I also firmly believe that is the exception and not the norm.
Blind faith moves and supernatural provision are for a season, not forever. The children of Israel received manna from heaven until they reached the promise land and the manna ceased. Then they were to eat the produce of the land which they would cultivate. No longer would they rely on what God would send down from heaven. In the land of their promise, they were to WORK THE LAND.
So in our pursuit to know is this God or is it the right time, let’s start with what’s practical.
Here are some questions to consider:
What is your current situation?
What resources do you have to do what’s in your heart to do and what are you up against? Have you counted the cost?
How long will it take?
How will doing this at this time affect you and those around you who count on you- both now and in the long run?
The answers to these questions will help you gauge if you are ready or if God is saying “Go.” Chances are if you have no resources (more specifically money), no help, and stepping out on faith will have more negative than positive effects on you and your loved ones, then it is more than likely not the right time. In this case, your plan of action will be what I coin the process of the 5 P’s: to pray, plan and prepare, and when you feel peace, proceed.
“My child, use common sense and sound judgment! Always keep them in mind. They will help you to live a long and beautiful life.” Proverbs 3:21-22
I remember wanting to quit my dead end job to go back to school. I was near graduation but the remainder of my degree program required me to be in school in the daytime. Problem is, I needed to work my 9-5 to take care of my son and all my bills. I was at my wits end with this job, and I was at a crossroads. Do I quit school or quit the job? I wrote out a plan then I went into fasting and prayer. I prayed for God to help me find part time evening jobs, applied to as many as I could find, saved as much as I could and found some paid internships to help me both with class credits and my bills. While I was taking a dramatic pay cut, for the most part the bills would be paid. After about a year, I felt the peace of God so I quit and went to school full time. I got the part time jobs I prayed for and things worked out eventually. It wasn’t easy at first. There were challenges financially but God provided for me supernaturally and kept me. Reality is, transitions are sometimes messy and most times challenging but if you stay committed, things will fall into place.
Bottom line is, you need a plan. I know that God is able to supply all our needs in spite of what we do not have. I understand stepping out on faith and that there is a time and place for supernatural provision and dependence on God, which HE usually initiates. But in all things we must use wisdom. No matter how much faith you have, it is not wise to leave your job when you have responsibilities and children to feed or move across the country without the proper supports in place.
Now I don’t want to give you the impression that you must have everything together. You will likely still need some supernatural provision somewhere down the line regardless of how much you plan. The point I want to get across is, we want to pray and seek God but still do as much practical preparation as we possibly can. I believe it is our responsibility to do all we know how to do and what we cannot do, we trust God to do. So again, we must practice to pray plan and prepare and if we feel peace, then we proceed.
Another point to consider after you’ve assessed your practical situation, is your spiritual maturity and/or disciplines.
Do you have a track record of hearing and obeying God and being led by the Spirit? Do you regularly fast, pray and study your word? Is there fruit in your life that consistently demonstrates that you are yielded to God? If so, and you feel led by God to step out on faith, you’ve prayed and you really believe this is what God is leading you to do, then trust the desire and go ahead. He will guide and protect you even if you make a mistake.
Unless I sense a strong “no” or “not now”, I generally just do what is in my heart to do, after I’ve counted the cost and prayed. Then I trust God to either bless my endeavor or course correct me. I don’t really make it any more complicated than that.
Another common pitfall for us Christians is we can sometimes fall into this fatalistic, over spiritualized mindset that believes we are bound to a blueprint in heaven and if we miss it we are outside of God’s protection. It’s a lie. You are free to create and build so long as you remain within the boundaries of your purpose and calling. Oftentimes we are paralyzed waiting on a sign from God when all we need to do is pray, plan and prepare then proceed when we feel peace. If it is your passion, go after it. If you are gifted in that area, then pursue it.
Knowing your calling and understanding your purpose is the first step in determining where you have license to freely operate. If you have not yet identified these aspects of your life, then your task right now is to delve into discovering your identity in God and knowing what you were created to do before you attempt to do anything for God. Maybe I’ll do a post on that soon ☺️.
I discussed in last week’s post how I am starting a boutique. (I have a launch date… eek 🙈.) Let me give you some of the back story.
So I’ve always known that no matter where life took me I needed a business of my own. I’ve never wanted to be at the mercy of an employer and I also have ambitions to do things for the kingdom of God that I need the financial freedom to be able to do. For some time I’d been thinking about what that business would be and so some things I needed to consider were time and flexibility because I still need to be at my 9-5 as well as be mother to my son. After praying and praying for a business idea, I was having a little session with God and I felt the Spirit ask me: what is the one thing you would love to do if there were no limitations? Truth is I didn’t really need to think too hard about it. I’d love to own a boutique,’ I said. I then wrote down what it would look like, the name and the vision. However, in the back of my mind I didn’t think I could do it. I just couldn’t see how. But as I began to do research I realized, it really wasn’t all that hard. So a year ago – June 2018 to be exact, I started praying about it and putting some plans into motion. I still didn’t really have a solid plan or date for when this would happen.
But within the year some uncanny signs began to follow. I started to sense it was time and that if I was ready and willing to do it God would back me. I started meeting people in the same business who were willing to help me and work with me. (When the student is ready the teacher will appear!) With every move I made, a door opened. With every resource I needed, someone appeared. It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it would have been. The hardest part thus far has been finding the right suppliers. But my plan is to start small and grow within the boundaries of my capacity then re-evaluate where I am in a year.
Truth is, this boutique has come with a grace and ease I did not imagine was possible. But I also understand all business launches or major moves do not necessarily play out this way. If you experience obstacles on your journey that seem insurmountable or cause you frustration, know that that is normal too. My advice to you is to study the book of Nehemiah to see how much warfare can accompany building something for God and learn how you should endure nevertheless. This is essential!!!
So to recap:
How do I know if it’s God or if it’s the right time?
We never REALLY know, not at first. So we pray plan prepare and when we feel peace we proceed. The 5 P’s!! (Notice I keep repeating this 😉.)
We take the first step and if the doors continue to open and the mountains continue to move we press forward.
If God keeps meeting your need without any manipulation on your part, then you keep moving forward.
If each time you take a step the next step unfolds then you keep putting one foot in front of the other until you finish.
It’s all about balancing faith with wisdom and practicality. Count the cost (Luke 14, 28-30). Don’t overspiritualize it, know you have freedom in Christ to be fruitful and multiply. You are made in God’s image. You can make a decision. God really doesn’t have to verbally tell you EVERYTHING. We really don’t need to wait on God for every single move. (Most times it’s a crutch for our fear and laziness.) He gave us a brain and wisdom and a Bible with plenty of guidelines. Don’t get stuck in inaction waiting for a sign. But also don’t jump in until you:
Pray, plan, prepare and when you feel peace, proceed.
When provision shows up and the task is complete then that’s how you’ll REALLY know if it was God or if it was the right time.