by Rebecca Price Janney @rebeccajanney
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…you are from God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:1, 4 NASB
When I was in seminary, I dreamed of becoming a historian, professor, and author. Newspapers had been publishing my articles since I was just fourteen, I’d written for a national magazine, loved history, and enjoyed the affirmation of people who’d taken my Sunday School classes. All students were required to meet with a career counselor to determine our fitness for the various ministries we hoped to pursue, and I went to our meeting confidently. I did not leave in the same emotional state.
Talk about blunt. After reviewing the tests I’d taken, he pronounced, “You’ll never be happy holed up in a library doing the kind of research getting a doctorate would require.” He added, not for good measure, that I possessed “average writing ability.” Didn’t he know I was already an experienced journalist?
I was crushed, but not in despair. God had given me certain talents and goals, and I was determined that He was going to have the last word. He enabled me to earn that doctorate, with honors, and I’m about to have my twenty-third book published.
Many have said whenever God directs His people toward the work He has for them, they can expect opposition. Biblical examples abound. Think about Noah. When he began building his ark, his neighbors jeered and publicly humiliated him. How about Joseph? After sharing his dream with his brothers, they sold him into slavery. (At least my career counselor didn’t throw me into a pit and sell me.) No doubt Mary endured misunderstanding and averted-eyes-whispers when villagers learned of her “problem pregnancy.”
Nehemiah certainly encountered ridicule as he attempted to restore Jerusalem’s shattered walls. Opponents of the Jews tried mixing their insults with his mortar. They asked, “Who does he think he is, anyway?” Sanballat, Tobiah, and their cohorts held the visionary up as an example of deranged ambition, but even worse, some of Nehemiah’s fellow Jews “came from all directions,” shelling him with a steady barrage of negativism (Nehemiah 4:12). Ten times they urged him to give up the work. I imagine it was a struggle for him to maintain focus on the One who had called him to the job.
Not all “experts” have clear vision. Did you know Lauren Daigle tried out for American Idol twice, and failed to achieve success? One of my favorite stories along these lines is about Fred Astaire. When he took a screen test, the report came back, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little.”
We can all relate to times we’ve heard God’s clear call upon our lives, and others rose up in opposition, whether they were authorities, family members, friends, or casual observers. When you undertake the plans God has for you, expect antagonism. Don’t let the naysayers catch you off guard, though. If you are sure of God’s call, take heart “because he who inspires you is greater than he who inspires the godless world” (1 John 4:4, NEB).
About the author: Rebecca Price Janney is the author of twenty-two published books, including the Easton Series, Morning Glory: A Novel of the First Great Awakening, Great Women in American History, Who Goes There? A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell, and Harriet Tubman. A theologically-trained historian, she holds a doctorate from Missio Seminary, as well as degrees from Princeton Seminary and Lafayette College. Rebecca and her husband Scott live in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley with their teenage son and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She does a weekly podcast, Inspiring Stories in American History and is a popular speaker on historical topics.
Rebecca’s book, Easton at the Crossroads, is the compelling story of two people, more than two hundreds years apart, bound by family ties, life experiences, and the town of Easton, Pennsylvania. They have done everything they know to be right, but still, life is turning out all wrong.
Join the conversation: Have you ever been discouraged by someone as you pursued God’s calling?