We’re continuing through Made to Run, our series looking at what it means to live a life that’s totally transformed by the gospel. Running that race means we’re chasing after God’s specific calling for our lives. We all have unique callings, so this looks different for everyone, but we can look at Paul and how he lived out God’s call on his life to learn about how we, too, can chase after our callings.

Before we can begin to fulfill our callings, the first step is recognizing that Christ has called us each to something unique that requires our unique gifts and talents. Christ puts our calling in our hands—He gives us the power and the capability to carry it out, by His Spirit. Paul knew what his calling was, and he also knew that God had given him the ability to fulfill it.

Read Acts 20.17–24.

Before talking about how we can go about fulfilling our call, we need to recognize the hindrances that can play a part in keeping us from living out that call. Once we recognize these things, we’ll be able to more fully step into our calling.

1. Distraction

Paul knew that God was calling him to go to Jerusalem, but he still had things left to say to the Christians in Ephesus. It would have been easy for him to go to Ephesus and spend more time there, but he knew that’s not where God wanted him. Instead, he kept sailing past Ephesus toward Jerusalem and asked the leaders of the church in Ephesus come to him.

While speaking to the Ephesians wasn’t a bad thing, delaying his trip to Jerusalem to do so wasn’t what God was telling Paul to do. We can be distracted from our calling even by things that aren’t inherently good. We should be aware of what our true calling is and what things in our lives—even the good things—might be keeping us from living into it.

Question: Are you saying “yes” to things that are distracting you from what you feel God is calling you to? If you began to say “no” to these things, how would you be more equipped to live into your call?

2. Fear

In verse 22, Paul says that he’s going to Jerusalem and that he doesn’t know what’s waiting for him there, saying there may even be prison in his future. Paul is uncertain about his future, and it only makes sense to experience fear and anxiety when stepping into the unknown of God’s calling on your life. But we know that God is also our protector, as we’re told in Proverbs 29.25.

Question: What is the thing that scares you most about pursuing God’s call for your life?

3. Comfort

It’s pretty natural for humans to want to be comfortable. We want to have lives that are under our control and that aren’t uncomfortable for us. But being made to run doesn’t mean that we’re always going to be comfortable. For Paul, the reality of prison and hardships awaiting him in every new city made it almost impossible to be comfortable while he pursued his call, but he didn’t let his desire for comfort outweigh his desire to serve God.

Once we’re able to recognize and fight against what keeps us from pursuing our call, we can begin to see how we, as followers of Jesus transformed by the Holy Spirit, are equipped and enabled to pursue our call. There are three truths from this passage that we can apply to our own callings.

1. We have direction in Christ.

In verse 22, Paul says he’s going to Jerusalem. Even though he doesn’t know what’s in store for him there or what he’ll face, he knows exactly where he’s going. If we’re wondering about what the right job is for us, or what city we should live in, or what major to choose, we can hold onto the promise that Christ and His calling on our lives will give us the direction for which we’re searching. Even if we don’t know what lies ahead, we’ll know where we’re moving with our direction firmly rooted in Christ and His calling.

2. We have purpose in Christ.

In verse 24, Paul says that his focus is “testifying to the news of God’s grace”. It doesn’t matter where he goes or who he meets, Paul knows that this is his ultimate purpose in Christ. The same is true for us: God has a plan for our lives, no matter what our job is or what kind of resources we have. Living out that purpose isn’t always going to be easy—Paul was imprisoned several times while he lived out his purpose—but it will be rewarded by God.

Question: What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced while living into your purpose? How have you grown closer to God in those moments?

3. We have destination in Christ.

Paul’s ultimate destination wasn’t Jerusalem—in fact, Paul knew that his ultimate destination wasn’t an earthly one, but eternity in Heaven with Jesus. It was with this destination in mind that Paul was able to overcome the hardships he faced on earth. He knew that he would never be truly fulfilled here on earth, and his hope for that in eternity is what allowed him to carry out his calling with determination, with his eyes fixed toward Heaven. In Hebrews 12.1–2, we see that Jesus is the ultimate example of living with Heaven in mind. He was willing to give up His life on earth and overcome death on a cross to live out His purpose of redeeming the world. And it is with His example in mind that we can begin to chase after and live into our own callings as we discover what it means to be people who are made to run.

Question: What is God calling you to in this season of life? If you’re not sure, spend some time reading your Bible and in prayer, asking God to help you discern what He’s calling you to.