If your heart has been gripped by the gospel, sooner or later you'll find yourself asking, "Where is God calling me to go?" That’s a normal question, because the gospel that saves is also the gospel that sends. That doesn’t make it an easy question, though, because it creates all kinds of follow-up questions. Does God want me to go overseas? Does He want me to quit my job and work for a ministry? Or does He want me to stay where I am when I thought it was clear I had to go?
The Apostle Paul knew that he was God's chosen instrument to reach the Gentiles, so he knew he would be going where the Gentiles were. Peter knew he was called to lead the church in Jerusalem, so he knew he would be going across the street and into his neighborhood. But that kind of clarity isn't the norm, either today or throughout the Bible.
More often, we are left with quite a bit of freedom for adhering to God's commands. While that freedom can be a relief, it can also cause incredible stress as we seek to live out God's will for our lives. We can get lost in our heads, playing out every possible scenario, and wind up paralyzed, not taking any steps toward going and making disciples.
If that's you, here are four questions and answers that might help you understand where God is calling you.
Four Questions to Help You Understand Where God Is Calling You
#1 – What did Jesus come to do?
Answer: To seek and save the lost.
When Jesus went to eat at the home of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, the religious people of the day scoffed, saying, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner."
They were correct. That's precisely what Jesus was doing, because that's precisely why he came to Earth to begin with.
After Zacchaeus repents and is saved, Jesus provides a retort to the snide religious peanut gallery, telling them why he hung out with people like tax collectors. In perhaps the most glorious phrase ever uttered, Jesus, the God-man, said, "For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost" (Luke 19:10).
If Jesus had a vision statement, this was it. He came to seek and save the lost. That meant he was going to spend a disproportionate amount of his time and energy around people who didn't know anything about him. He would be going out among the lost to seek and save those who were without hope.
That's exactly what Jesus did throughout his ministry. And it's what you will do if you want to go where God has called you.
But what about today? How does Jesus seek and save the lost now that he's in heaven? That leads us to our second question.
#2 – How does Jesus seek and save the lost?
Answer: By sending us out as sheep among wolves.
We have one really good look at what it was like when Jesus sent out his disciples for ministry. It's recorded in Luke 10 where we see Jesus' instructions to 72 of his followers as he prepared them to go out on mission.
One of the most interesting things Jesus says here is that he is sending his disciples out like sheep among wolves (Luke 10:3). Have you ever thought about that? When a sheep fights a wolf, the sheep doesn't come out on top.
This is a sobering picture of what life on mission is like. Those who would follow Jesus and witness for his name are not promised a comfortable life (in fact, they're promised the opposite; see Luke 9:57-58). More specifically, this means that if we're really going to live the way Jesus calls us to, we'll live our lives among the wolves (the lost).
But before you think this is a recipe for being miserable, consider that when the 72 came back from the mission field they were ecstatic with what they saw God do. Yes, it was hard and exhausting and scary, but they saw God move in ways they never would have if they stayed among the sheep (believers). The same principle is true today.
We can spend our time among the sheep and still know God. But if we want to experience all that Jesus offers we have to live among the wolves. If you want to go where God has called you, there's no doubt that it involves a significant amount of time among wolves.
#3 – What are we supposed to do when we live among the wolves?
Answer: Go and make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything Jesus commanded us.
Imagine seeing someone you love at their funeral, then being lowered into the ground at their grave. Now imagine that same person walked up to you on the street a few days later and had something to tell you. Whatever they had to say, you would listen. They were dead, but now they’re living. That gives their words authority.
This is the exact setting in which Jesus gives his disciples the Great Commission. He had been stripped, tortured, beaten, and murdered on the cross. His disciples knew he was then carried to an empty tomb with a Roman guard placed out front. . We know the importance of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, but miss how critical the beginning of verse 18 is:
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’”
Jesus, the dead guy they had seen crushed and buried before their eyes, was now standing in front of them. That’s why Jesus leads his commission with the crowning authority he now possessed. The guy that conquered death has something to say, so it’s time for his disciples to listen.
What does he tell them?
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:10-20 ESV)
Here we have Jesus' last words, his last instructions for how to continue what he started. It was simple. Go all over the world; as you go, make disciples; then baptize them and teach them to obey all of Jesus's commands. That may sound simple, but it affects everything in a follower's life.
This command is for every follower of Christ. It is the primary thing each disciple is called to, before their career or anything else. It's not optional. It's not something some of us are called to and others of us aren't. First and foremost, we are disciples of Jesus of who make disciples of Jesus.
That's why the primary question associated with our purpose in life isn't what we are supposed to do, but where we are supposed to do it. The Great Commission makes it clear the “what” is make disciples. The only question, then, is where do we go to do that?
#4 – Where do we go?
Answer: To Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Acts 1:8 gives us another glimpse at Jesus' final words. Here we see Jesus giving specific instructions about where his disciples are to go once he takes his seat at the Father's right hand. The disciples already knew they were to make disciples, but now Jesus tells them where to go:
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)
Jesus is sending his followers to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. No corner of the world is outside of the Great Commission. Starting right where they were (Jerusalem), Jesus sent them out to continue spreading the Kingdom of God.
Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria are real places, and Jesus was actually sending them there. But beyond their importance at that time, those locations remain significant because they help us see where Jesus is sending us today.
Notice the progression. First, Jesus sends them across the street into Jerusalem. Next, he sends them to a place with a similar culture by sending them to Judea. Then, Jesus really ups the ante by sending them to a culture most of them would have hated — Samaria (Remember how culturally explosive Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan was?). If that wasn't enough, Jesus then sends them to the very ends of the earth.
This variety means that Jesus' disciples could obey his Great Commission by going to any of those locations, and the same is true today. As Ruth Ripken says, "Serving God is not a matter of location. It's a matter of obedience."
We don't all have to go overseas, though more of us should than are open to it. If we don't go to another country, we are commanded to go across the street (Jerusalem), to the community next door (Judea), or to the people we would never think to associate with before coming to Jesus (Samaria).
That leaves you with only one more question.
Where will you go?
Will you go across the street and tell your neighbors about Jesus? Will you go into the largest city near you to witness to the gospel? Will you build relationships with the refugees and immigrants that came to your community from unreached people groups around the world? Will you go to one of the 2.8 billion unreached peoples around the world?
The possibilities are limitless, but the mission is the same: go into all the world and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Where will you go?
Grayson Pope is a husband and father of three. He serves as Pastor of Community at his church in Charlotte, NC and is currently pursuing a MACS at The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Grayson’s Passion is to equip believers for everyday discipleship to Jesus.