God, your plan sounds good, but...
“When God calls, you respond!” We hear things like this all the time. We sing it in our hymns; can anyone say “…Here I am Lord…” It always sounds so easy. He speaks, we get to work. However, when I have heard that call, I have not always been so quick to respond. I often drag my feet. I doubt myself. I give in to fear. I let comfort win. Not to mention questioning if something is from God or not (but that is a topic for another day). When God calls, my actual response is often something more like, “here I am, your idea sounds great, I’ll sit with that for a while.” I’m not saying that discernment should be fast, but often I discern and have then been slow to action.
I never planned to start a business; in fact, I was more than content with the way things were. Three years ago, I was working a job that I loved, serving God through my home parish. But then God spoke. His voice came in many ways that were both gradual and persistent. After a period of discernment, it was clear that God had a new plan for me.
My wife had received a job offer that, if accepted, would result in her going back to work full-time and possibly traveling up to 20% of the time. I couldn’t see a way that this would work with my ministry schedule that included nights and weekends. I was sure God would have a different job out there for her and that, if we prayed about it, it would become clear. How could He not? There was no way this could work. God is always full of surprises though. By the time we were done praying together as a couple, I was convinced that she was meant to accept the job. Then it hit me, if she was meant to accept this job, maybe God was asking me to make a change too. So back to prayer I went. The next week I was taking our youth ministry to a youth conference and I had a lot of time to pray. During an evening of Exposition God affirmed that He was asking me to leave my job and “take a leap,” trusting in Him. Through further prayer over the subsequent weeks, I got the sense that God had other plans for me, to live out the call to evangelization in a new way, but just what that was supposed to look like was unclear.
So what next? I left my job. I spent the next year, searching for a different job, expecting God to work in the way I would have chosen. Door after door was closed. During that time, I remembered a project I had been working on for my kids, a board book to help them learn their “first Catholic words.” This had been a project almost 2 years in the works, and for quite a while, I had been talking about the idea of possibly self-publishing it, but that had always just been a pipedream. God began to make it clear that this was part of the new way he wanted me to evangelize. So then, I…did nothing. I waited 6 months to take action. I let fear control me. I had been willing to leave my job, but there was little risk there. We could survive on my wife’s salary. With this, however, I would be entering an area I knew little about. I would be putting something I made out there for the world and they might not like it. I would be spending our own savings. It was scary and although I often spoke of trust in God, I let fear win.
Fortunately for me, God is patient. He knows our weaknesses and failings and will never give up on us. He continued to work on my heart for the next 6 months until I was ready. He quieted my fears and replaced them with excitement. I moved from a place of anxiety to joy. The funny thing is that when I decided to say yes, He blessed me beyond measure. As I finally started our business and sent our book to print, I had plenty of reasons to be anxious. My wife was 7 months pregnant with our third daughter. Days after approving the proofs for print, the printer was shut down for an indefinite amount of time due to COVID. Everything was unsure, I had little idea what I was doing, and yet there was peace.
Since then God has put our books in the hands of over 500 families. He has given us the ability to print a second book, and has inspired ideas for multiple more books (shameless plug, click here to pre-order our newest book). He has continually reaffirmed the decision to say yes. His call and gifts were not what I would have planned, they are better.
So, how is God calling you? Don’t know? I encourage you to spend some time with him in quiet prayer or in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Once you hear that call, take action! The calls are not always big, but they are always important. He is always faithful and will take your small yes and bring about great things. If you have been avoiding action, today is a new day! God is patient and is ready to work with you now. Go out and give it all to God. Your yes is a unique gift to the world that no one else can make. “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena.
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Zack Hinger is a husband and father of 3 girls. He worked in parish ministry for over 8 years in all ages of formation from preschool through adulthood. He has a B.A. from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Theology and Catechetics. His passions are God, his family, and helping others journey towards a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.