Over the past four weeks, we’ve followed Moses’ journey as he received, discerned, and began living out God’s call on his life to lead the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt. In our last week of The Call, we look at the price that we often have to pay when we step out into God’s calling for our lives and how we can react to the discouragement that comes along with paying that price.
At the beginning of Exodus 15, we see Moses and Miriam leading the nation of Israel in praise and worship because of the amazing things that God did on their journey out of Egypt. Only a couple of days later, though, the Israelites were faced with hardships and a pretty important question: were they willing to pay the price that came with stepping into their calling?
Read Exodus 15.22–16.4.
After the initial joy of being able to leave Egypt, the Israelites spent three days wandering around the desert without food or water. Even though they were no longer slaves, they were still facing some pretty serious problems. In fact, they wondered if they might have been better off staying in Egypt; even if they would’ve been in slavery, they would’ve at least been able to feed their families. Much like Israel, we’ll have to a pay a price when we decide to live out God’s call. Fortunately, we have a lot to learn from how Israel responded to the cost of the call. By looking at their journey, we can see five ways to respond to the discouragement we might face when we pursue God’s calling.
Question: What are some examples—whether in your own life or someone else’s—of the prices paid to live out God’s calling? If they’re examples from your life, how did you press on through that? If they’re examples from someone else’s, how do you think they might have persevered?
1. Recognize the loss.
Don’t forget that stepping into God’s calling means stepping into something new. Change isn’t always easy. It’s okay for us to recognize that we’ve lost something by stepping into our callings. We just have to remember that we can’t stay in that place forever. We have to move on from the loss.
2. Realize that the desert is a test.
In Exodus 16.4, God specifically says that He’s testing Israel. Similarly, the discouragement and problems we face when we step into our callings can be looked at as tests. Just like any other test, the way that we respond to them has the potential to determine how fast we can come out of it. Later in Exodus, we learn that an entire generation of Israelites died before they got to the promised land because they spent their time in the desert grumbling and complaining. They responded to God’s test with doubt and rebellion instead of a willingness to trust and rely on Him. Choosing to grumble and complain can be very dangerous.
Facing challenges to our God-given calling isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. When they come up, we’re called to keep taking steps of obedience toward God rather than complain, grumble, and fall into bitterness.
3. Reject discouragement.
Two of Satan’s most common—and effective—traps are offense and discouragement. He loves to discourage us from doing God’s work. There are two ways to fight these traps. The first is to always seek God in our personal deserts. Exodus 15.25 tells us that “Moses cried out to the Lord,” and that’s exactly what we should do, as well. Instead of letting Satan’s discouragement become our primary source of emotions, we can be encouraged by the Word of God.
Question: How does Satan most often try to discourage you? Think about his tactics and what he wants you to believe, then find two or three verses to memorize and cling to when he tries to discourage you in that way.
The second way to fight discouragement is to avoid isolating ourselves. We’re much more vulnerable to Satan’s attacks if we’re going through them alone. If we surround ourselves with people who encourage and affirm us as we live out God’s call—like CABLE Groups, godly friends, and mentors—we can fulfill our purpose instead of staying stuck in our discouragement and deserts.
Question: Are you surrounded by people who will build you up and encourage you as you pursue God’s calling? If yes, how have they helped you fight Satan’s discouragement? If not, what practical steps can you take to seek out those kinds of people?
4. Remember the “why.”
Saying “yes” to God’s calling always means saying “no” to something else, and that’s not an easy decision to make. Remembering why we said yes in the first place is a great way to stay on track and not go back to the pull of what our lives were before. When Israel said yes to freedom, they had to say no to the predictability and familiarity of life in Egypt. When they began to feel that pull, many of them forgot why they said yes to freedom in the first place and they missed out on the promised land because of it. They let the familiarity of what they left behind become more important than the promise of what was to come.
Hebrews 12.1–3 says that we’re running a race and to persevere through it, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. Our eternal life in Him—and the purpose and freedom it brings—is the ultimate promise of what’s to come.
5. Reaffirm your trust and commitment.
When God provided food for the Israelites, He didn’t give them giant stockpiles to last them weeks or months. Instead, He provided for them every single morning. That means that every day, the Israelites had to reaffirm their trust in God’s provision and their commitment to His instructions. This probably wasn’t the most comfortable thing for them to do—maybe they wanted the security of having food for their families for more than only one day—but it was the direction that God gave them. Living out God’s calling isn’t always going to be comfortable for us. It might make us uncomfortable in the short-term, but we know that this life isn’t all there is. When we live out God’s calling, we’re living for something that will last for eternity.