Following God's Lead
By Denise M. Kohlmeyer
I loved teaching. I loved being in God’s Word: reading, studying, and “researching” (exploring commentaries, websites, and related Christian books) to get a better grasp on the topic I was to teach. I loved the process of writing my lectures, having been taught through Bible Study Fellowship how to use homiletics to dissect a passage and put it into teachable form. I loved coming up with the three points I would make, all starting with the same letter, of course, since I love alliteration! And then I loved teaching what God had shown me, giving the points and the applications, and then seeing and hearing how God was using them to work in the lives of the listeners.
But then, two years ago, God called me out. I knew He was, but frankly—and sadly—I fought Him for about a year. I wasn’t ready to give it up. It was all I knew and loved. But the inward pressure to step down became unbearable, and I had to concede to God’s calling to step out of teaching. I was heartbroken. I didn’t understand, and I was confused.
For weeks I felt so lost. I felt like a boat that had lost its moorings and was just drifting. Months went by, and I was no closer to discerning His will for me as the next step in my faith journey. I read the Bible. I prayed. I journaled. I cried—a lot. I went through a mourning process because it felt like a type of death. And I began to question “God, what are You doing? What do You want me to do? Where do You want me to serve?” He was silent. It seemed as He was saying, “Nowhere right now. Just be.”
And I did. I slowly began to relax into the season of solace that God seemed to have me in. I realized He wanted me to rest, and that, in time—His time—He would lead me. But meanwhile He just wanted me to be still and quiet, to lean into Him and learn anew from Him and about Him. It actually turned into a wonderful season of spiritual renewal and refreshment. And the mourning period turned into one of contentment.
Then about seven months into just being, He began to stir my heart towards something that I had put on the back burner when my three children started to arrive: writing. In my B.K. life (Before Kids), I had been a newspaper journalist and freelance writer. While I had not enjoyed being a reporter so much, I had relished writing for magazines and newsletters. There was more freedom to write creatively rather than being confined to the dreaded “inverted pyramid”-style of newspaper writing.
The idea slowly unfolded in my mind and heart like a newly opening flower. It was time to begin freelancing again. But fear took hold of me. From past experience, I knew that freelancing involved a lot of rejection. Was I ready for that again? Was I willing to pour my heart and soul into an article only to have it summarily squashed with a rejection letter “Thank you for your submission. While we appreciate your dedication to writing and your interest in publishing with us, we are unable to use your article at this time…” or some version of that. Any way it’s worded, it’s still a rejection, and it hurts. And, unfortunately, I tend to take it personally.
For every one article that’s accepted for publication, it’s typically backed by dozens of rejections. The blogging world? Overly saturated. I know, because I looked into that too.
But I couldn’t deny the holy pressure and push God was putting on my heart. So, fear or no fear, I began to write. I also researched the Christian magazine market, selecting those that aligned with my beliefs, style, and passion. Then I began, with trepidation, to submit articles. After I had composed my email query letter and attached my Word document article, I would cringe as the arrow poised over the “send” button. I would send up a 911 prayer: “Ok, God, here goes. If it’s Your will, it’ll be accepted.”
As I expected, my submissions were rejected one by one. The disappointment and frustration set in. I began to question this “calling” and thought of abandoning it. But the pressure was relentless. So I persevered. I kept writing and submitting. And then, low and behold, I received the blessed news every writer longs to read: “Thank you for your submission. This is an excellent article. I would like to publish it.” Soon the contract was sent…and signed! I was so excited that I posted the contract on Facebook, then had to delete it because my Social Security number was on it. Oops! So much for sharing the good news!
That first acceptance letter was all the encouragement and hope I needed. I renewed my attempts and even explored different venues other than just magazines: devotionals, established blog sites, flash fiction (something I’d never heard of but was game to try). Many months and submissions later, God began to open some doors. To date, two articles have been published, three devotionals have been posted and two others are currently “under consideration.” I was accepted as a contributor to one of my all-time favorite teaching resource websites, and I have been accepted as a back-up author for a devotional.
To say that this new “ministry” has taken a lot of time, energy, perseverance and prayer is an understatement. The transition has been fraught with doubt, fear, anxiety, and disappointment, but also joy.
God’s calling to transition ministries is never easy, or even understood at first. He does not always “inform” us of what (or why) He is doing in our lives. He only asks for our obedience and willingness to follow Him wherever He leads. Like many who’ve gone before us, He asks us to walk by faith, not by sight. Like Noah, who dutifully built an ark, trusting God to reveal His plan in His time. Like Abraham, who unquestioningly would’ve sacrificed his only son, trusting God to provide “the lamb for the burnt offering.” Like Mary, who supernaturally conceived, trusting in God’s choice of using her, an unwed virgin, as His means of bringing forth the Savior of the world. The blessings of obedience, of walking by faith and not by sight, as Noah, Abraham, Mary, and others found are immeasurable and innumerable.
While it was, and sometimes still is, a painful process of transitioning ministries, I’m glad and ever-so thankful that I did. The price is well worth the cost we have to pay.