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When God Doesn’t Give You a Burning Bush

by HOLLY PENNINGTON PURPOSED Contentment Hearing God & Understanding His Will Obedience
When God Doesn’t Give You a Burning Bush
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"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'”
1 Peter 1:15-16

“God, where is my burning bush?” 

Even now, I can feel the particular blend of longing, self-pity, impatience, and hope that fueled this earnest prayer more than a decade ago. More than anything, I wanted clarity. Fire-in-the-desert, audible divine voice clarity about the calling for my life. His plans for me didn’t have to be easy or make sense; I just wanted to know them. When this prayer seemed to go unanswered, I turned to books with titles like “Hearing God,” sought answers from personality tests, studied spiritual gifts, and spent countless hours in conversations with other women asking the same question: Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?

Perhaps you have asked this question, too. During that season of uncertainty about next steps for your ministry, you cried out to God with your own burning bush prayer. Maybe, right now, you can’t shake off that restless feeling that God has plans for you that you have yet to uncover.  

If this is you, perhaps my efforts to cultivate ground for an undeniable “Aha!” moment will bear fruit that calms your fidgety soul. Instead of clarity, God revealed a few truths about calling that I keep returning to for peace. I pray they will help you too.  

A calling does not have to be singular. I was searching for that elusive sweet spot where my passion, God-given talent, and the need of the world come together and fill me up with a deep sense of purpose. I wanted my calling to be contained in one pursuit. Instead, God has given me a mosaicked life of uncoordinated tiles bound together by threads of trust. Some pieces are cracked and misshapen; others fit together neatly. As a whole, it is beautiful. 

A calling does not have to be specific. I know, I don’t like it either. But, the truth is that being a Christian and clear callings go hand in hand. As children of God, our mission is to know and love God, to be holy in all of our conduct. The broadness and familiarity of this declaration can make it feel unsatisfactory. But there is freedom in this as well. 

If God doesn’t give you a burning bush, He knows you don’t need one. Here is a surprising thing I have come to believe about God’s purpose for my life: He isn’t hiding it. Callings glorify God. God numbers my days. Why would he keep me in the dark? He isn’t waiting for me to choose the right path to His hidden treasure or have a pure enough heart to receive divine messages (Paul’s heart on the road to Damascus is a case in point.) Could it be that I am already living out His purpose for my life, even when it doesn’t feel like it?  Wouldn’t God give me, and you, burning bushes when we need them?

Closing Prayer
Lord, You know our hearts. We are women on mission for you. Help us to trust that you love speaking to us and that you will give us direction when you know we need it. Show us how you see our lives and grant us contentment even when we feel restless. Amen.
Book: Hearing God by Dallas Willard More than anyone else, Dallas Willard has helped me understand that growing in faith and being Christ-like is not dependent on our hard work. This book hones in on discernment, but as with any book by Dallas Willard, it is so much more!
Question for Reflection

When you feel restless, unsuccessful, or unsure in your ministry, what do you do?

Holly Pennington
November 20, 2020

My tendency is to hunt for what God has next for me! I pray, talk with friends, read books, and search, search, search! I fall into the trap of believing that God has something else in mind for me and it is my job to figure it out, rather than trusting that He will guide me in His time.