For Such A Time As This

Discerning your calling

For a long time I wrestled with what God might be calling me to in life. I deeply wanted to know what specific job, location, and field God wanted me in so that I could not only ‘be in His will,’ but also know that I was maximising my life to the full extent. I wanted to be in the Kingdom, and work for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in this world. However, I slowly came to realise that I probably would not have a ‘God speaking through the trees’ moment of clarity about my calling. As I looked through the bible and studied the history of the Church I also realised that the ordinary experience of God’s people wasn’t a ‘God speaking through the trees’ moment but a prayerful discerning of the hidden hand of God guiding His people through life for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I remember speaking to a friend about how I could, like those in the bible, and in the history of the church, prayerfully discern where God was calling me to and he gave me three themes to think and pray about. These three themes are:

(1) Desire: What good desires has God placed in your heart? What need/s in the world do you long to see met?

(2) Ability: What are you skilled in? Where do your gifts lie? What does everyone around you say you are good at? What privileges can you leverage for others? What actions can you execute that others may not be able to?

(3) Opportunity: What doors are presently open to you? What areas do you currently have access to that others may not?

In prayer, and with reason, experience, and the wise counsel of others, thinking through these three themes and where they intersect can bring clarity to how God has been working and is working in our lives.

For such a time as this

As I think about what it looks like to process these three themes through my life story and the consequences it has for the decisions I make, I cannot help but think of the story of Esther.

Esther was the (secretly Jewish) Queen of the Persian King Xerxes. When her uncle Mordecai had found out that the second in command, Haman (he’s the bad guy), had used his influence to make the King decree the execution of all Jews he [Mordecai] begged Esther to influence the King against it. She knew it would be dangerous to approach the King without being summoned, but her desire to meet the great need of the Jews led her to approach the King. Thankfully, the King was glad to see her and asked what she wanted. Long story short, Esther was at a feast (with both the King and Haman present) and when the King asked her for her request, she informed the King that she was Jewish and that Haman wanted the jews dead! This infuriated the King, and led to Haman being executed instead.

In this story we find Esther coming to a significant crossroads in the development of her life story. When Mordecai informs Esther of this great need, he says to her

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14)

How does Esther respond?

Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish (Esther 4:16)

In this chapter we see the confluence of the three themes mentioned. Esther has a desire in response to a need that has been shown to her. She desires to help save the Jews (see verse 16). She also has the ability to help. This is the very reason Mordecai went to her! “You have the ‘royal position’ Esther, it’s a privilege you need to use for the benefit of your people!’ Mordecai says. And in the final feast, when the King asks her request (in the presence of Haman), the opportunity arises! She is in an ideal position (her opportunity) to use her influence with the king (her ability) to stop the destruction of the jews (her desire). Although the name of God is never mentioned in the book of Esther, His fingerprints are everywhere. He had been guiding her in His providence for this moment. For such a time as this had she been called.

We all want to know what our ‘for such a time as this’ is. We all long to find that moment when what was foggy becomes clear, when the invisible guiding hand of God become visible. We find in the story of Esther, and in many others like hers, that our calling isn’t always made immediately clear to us. However, with these three themes (Desire, Ability, and Opportunity) we can prayerfully begin the process of discernment.

As Timothy Keller (Founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church NYC) has written ‘Your life is not a series of random events. Your family background, education, and life experiences — even the most painful ones — all equip you to do some work that no one else can do.’

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Israel A. Kolade

Israel A. Kolade

MDiv Student at Covenant Seminary | Contributor at Black Berea | Pastoral Intern at Central West End Church|