March 2021: What is God's plan for me?
Each month throughout 2021, the Church of Scotland's ‘Talking Ministry' series will share a personal story from those serving in Christian ministry, along with resources filled with questions, prayers and reflections to help encourage reflection on how God might be calling you at this time.
For March, Deacon Claire Herbert DCS speaks about her role as the chaplain at the Lodging House Mission in Glasgow and we explore the theme: What is God's plan for me?
My ministry: Clair Herbert DCS, chaplain at the Lodging House Mission in Glasgow.
Claire Herbert has been the chaplain at the Lodging House Mission in Glasgow since July, 2019.
She is a member of the Diaconate, which enables her to live out her calling in the ministry of service to provide care and support to homeless, vulnerable and socially excluded people.
Claire, 45, has a degree in Divinity from the University of Glasgow and lives in East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire with her husband, Craig, and their four children, Ewan, 19, Amy, 18, Adam, 14, and Lauren, 12.
March Discernment Resources: What is God's plan for me?
Called according to God's purpose
The idea of ‘calling' is one the most recurrent and evocative themes in the New Testament. The almighty, loving Creator is the one who calls (e.g 1 Peter:1:5) and those who respond inherit the esteemed honour of being ‘called according to God's purpose' (e.g. Hebrews 9:15).
Our principal calling is to be formed into ever greater Christlikeness. Just like everyone who is privileged to be adopted as a son or daughter of God, we are not suddenly cloned into conformity, but rather invited to be formed progressively into a unique expression of the fullness of the character of Jesus, an inimitable manifestation of the Spirit's fruit (love, joy, peace and much, much more) expressed and revealed in and through a unique personality.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.
Romans 8:29-30, MSG
Along this way of faith there are many things that are true for all of us – and there are tasks and trials, wonders and opportunities that unique to us. In the providence and grace of God our particular set of life experiences, skills and aptitudes, gifts and passions, and, not least our wounds and weaknesses, limitations and vulnerabilities, are both a snapshot of a work in progress and preparation for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
If, as Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, we are God's workmanship, formed anew in Christ for ‘good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life' (Ephesians 1:10, NRSV), then what could be more vital than to discern what those ‘good works' are? However, we do well to remember that we discern and encounter the ‘good works' that constitute part of the adventure of faith for us in the context of that wider, ultimate journey into Christian formation. If our obedience to God is to be more than ‘an annoying noise' (1 Corinthians 13:1), it needs to be rooted in the love he is cultivating in us.
But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.
Micah 6:8, MSG
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
Jeremiah 29:11, NRSV
What might a map of my ‘adventure of faith' to this point look like?
How do I perceive ‘God's workmanship' in progress in this particular season of my life?
What attitude or posture might best facilitate God's priority for the formation of ‘ever greater Christlikeness' in me?
How might I regularly remind myself that I am ‘called according to God's purpose'?
Who is best able to help me discern the unique blend of experiences and gifts, wounds and weaknesses that characterise me at this point in life?
What inklings of the ‘good works' God has prepared for me might be stirring in me today?
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of thy love;
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for thee.
(Frances Ridley Havergal)
An obsession merely with doing all God commands may be the very thing that rules out being the kind of person that he calls us to be
If you would like to consider how God might be calling you to serve at this time, you may want to discuss further with your minister or be in touch with your Presbytery to explore local opportunities.
If you are interested in exploring a call to the recognised ministries of the Church, you can find more information on our vocations page and can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a Discernment Conversation with one of the Recruitment Team.