Have you ever gotten a vision from the Lord about something that he’s calling you to do? Maybe God has placed a dream in your heart to do something really amazing. What about a prophetic word from someone… Have you ever gotten a prophetic word that described your calling?
I know what it’s like to have a calling from the Lord that is big and exciting, that’s been confirmed both by prophetic words, as well as in my dreams and having heard directly from the Lord personally. I know what it’s like to be so stoked for something that God called you to do, that you jump the gun, and attempt to launch out prematurely because you don’t understand the timing.
I think we would all agree, that when God speaks a word to you, gives you a dream, shows you what your calling is, etc. that it’s one of the most exhilarating feelings in the entire world. When you know something you’re called to do, or you have a word that something is going to come to pass, it is so enthralling that you just want it NOW.
How do I know this? Ha! This perfectly describes how I’ve felt every time God has shown me something good that will come to pass or that I’m called to do. God shows me something cool He wants to do through me, I get stoked, and then I immediately want it ALL…. Right NOW.
It would be like me telling my kids we’re going to Disney World in 2 years. I would have to hear them talk about it for 2 fully years, possibly every single day. They would probably begin packing their bags like the very next day.
Can you relate?! Perhaps all of us can, at some point or another.
I used to get so aggravated with people who would try to tell my husband and I that we were pushing something to happen too early. It frustrated me to no end to be told that we were out of the right season, even though God was genuinely calling us to do those things. “Surely they were just dream killers who wanted to steal our joy and keep us from doing great things for God. Maybe they were just jealous of our calling,” were the types of thoughts that may rolled through my head at some point or another.
Most of the time I’m sure some of these people were just trying to teach me or equip me, but I didn’t receive it because I didn’t want anything to stand in my way of obeying God.
The truth is that when God puts a dream inside you, or calls you to do something, normally there is a season that this dream or calling is intended to be birthed in. Not everything God shows you is supposed to happen immediately, tomorrow or next week.
Most often, when God shows you something tremendous that He is calling you into, there is a season of preparation that follows.
There are things God showed me 7 years ago, that we are JUST NOW getting the green light to step into. That doesn’t mean I didn’t TRY LIKE CRAZY to make it happen before it was supposed to.
The “Danger” of Being Out of Timing
Here’s the deal, I’m going to say this real quick before I launch into explaining how to determine the timing and season of a word: I do believe that there is such a thing as the “right” season for a word, calling, or dream to be birth, but I’m not sure there is always an immense *danger* in being so excited and hungry for the things of God that you attempt to jump the gun.
The reason I say this is because a lot of people tried to instill a FEAR into my husband and I. We have always loved the Lord passionately and we’ve always been ready to jump when God says jump. We’ve always moved in radical obedience to God. I believe our sincere desire to obey God in everything is something that should never be stamped out of anyone. Some people only learn about seasons and timing from being out of season and jumping the gun.
Like us, many others tend to learn best the hard way (trial and error). The times that we were pressured with fear and manipulation, it’s possible that it was coming from people who were trying to help us, or from a leader not understanding the true character of God. What I mean is they probably meant well.
God is not some big bad mean abusive father who is just waiting on us to step out of line so He can whip us with the belt. God wasn’t going to smite us for loving Him so much that we tried to obey Him but in the wrong season. Instead, what we did experience was God lovingly being our safety net. Over and over again.
The times that we tried to venture out too early, God truly did bless us and use it as a learning experience. He didn’t chastise us or ridicule us. He didn’t leave us on our own. He rewarded our passion for Him, and also He corrected us lovingly and helped us get back in the right place for that season.
Timing and Season
With all that being said, let’s jump into me explaining some of the things I learned about how to determine what kind of season you’re in, and the proper timing for a prophetic word to come to pass. Here are helpful things I’ve learned that help me to determine the seasons and timing of prophetic words for me. I do not have this perfected. I’m fairly certain that no-one anywhere does, but some of us do a better job of adulting. I am still to this day an extremely passionate person, but there are certain indicators I look for in order to make sure it’s the right season for the word.
1. Ask yourself these questions: How did I receive this word? (because that does matter) Is it the first time I’ve ever gotten this prophetic word? Does it align with what I have already been hearing from God?
You might even be wondering why any of this would even matter. I’ve found that in my own life, normally if a drastic change is going to place, or God is about to commission us to go do something big, different or life changing, then God will confirm it. The types of confirmations, and how rapidly they take place, tell me a little about how quickly things are going to transpire/are supposed to unfold.
For example, when God called us to plant a church, first we had received a prophetic word about it, then Rene and I started getting clues during our prayer life, next was a few dreams, and then I asked for a specific confirmation from God. God confirmed, and we moved to obey what God was saying. This all unfolded in about 6 months, but we had already been youth pastors for 5 years.
To someone attempting to discern the season that a particular prophetic word is in, I would say that it does matter how quickly confirmation came, and how rapidly you are getting these confirmations. Are all your confirmations from within you? Run this by a leader that you trust to speak into your life as well.
2. Take some steps towards the word, and see what happens. Depending on what God is calling you to do, this can look different, but in my life what’s happened is that when God has called me to do something, if I was unsure of the timing, what I would do is take some steps towards that word, and listen to Holy Spirit as I take those steps.
As my mentor Doug Addison always says, “Peace is the best fleece”. When you take those steps towards the word, do you feel peace, or did you feel anxious and out of order? Anything but peace could be an indicator that it just isn’t the right season to do that yet, and you can trust that God will stir that dream up again when it’s the right season.
At this point you may be wondering what I mean when I say “take a few steps towards the prophetic word”. Let me unpack that for a second. If God has called you to be a missionary in the Philippines, but you live in the U.S. right now, “taking some steps” towards that word may look like checking out a book from your local library to learn more about Philippine culture. It might look like you enrolling in language classes or applying for your passport.
Obviously your “few steps” will look very differently, depending on what God has called you to do, but my point is that when you are taking these steps toward your calling, you should hear Holy Spirit, or at least be getting nudges that you’re either on track (peace, joy, fulfillment, a straight up word from God saying something like “yes, you’re on track”), or you may be feeling uneasy, stressed out and nervous. These are indicators, and they shouldn’t be ignored or pushed aside.
3. You live and you learn. One way to grow in discernment of the time and seasons in your life is to just live your life. Obey God to the best of your ability. I believe God will grow you throughout your lifetime, and sometimes we learn through trial and error. Mistakes don’t mean you’re necessarily in disobedience to God. I believe there have been times when God made room for me to make mistakes because it was part of training me and growing me to discern the seasons and timing with more maturity and experience.
My own journal has been crucial to my growth. I look back sometimes and realize that I was so caught up in what I wanted, that I didn’t even take the time to discern the season I was in, or if the timing was right. God showed me a peek of something and I wanted it so bad that I went for it.
4. This one is the biggest. If you don’t hear anything else, hear this: JUST ASK GOD. Seriously, ask if this is the right season to move forward in the thing that you feel Him calling you into. God may not answer you immediately and audibly, but He WILL begin guiding you into the answer, which might involve you implementing 1-3 of my suggestions.
But just think, if God shows you the timing first thing when you ask (this has totally happened to me once in a prophetic dream… when I asked God the timing, he literally showed me a calendar in that dream, and the timing was spot on), then you will have it all cleared up and it will save you a lot of time and trouble!
Pregnant with a Promise
Finally, here’s my last piece advice to you to help you discern the seasons and timing of your prophetic word: I’ve found that in my own life, a huge calling or prophetic word coming to pass usually comes to pass in my life similarly to a pregnancy.
With a pregnancy, there are signs that indicate that I am pregnant. There are things that happen that indicate to me that I am pregnant. Next, there are confirmations that I seek out. I might confirm with a pregnancy test, and then schedule an appointment with my doctor or midwife who is an expert in the field. This is very similar to how I might react to a prophet word. If I receive a prophetic word of a huge calling on my life, the first thing I would likely do is seek confirmation and then go to someone I trust and see as a leader in my life.
After a pregnancy is confirmed, a woman’s body goes through many changes over the next 10 months, although none are as drastic as the one that takes place when she finally has birthed her baby. Each of these changes take her one step closer to welcoming that beautiful baby.
Here are some notable changes that happen, and things that must be done when a woman is pregnant:
- Preparations must be made (buy a car seat, read some books, buy diapers, plan whether to breast feed or not, make a birthing plan, decide where to give birth, decide whether or not to use medication, etc)
- Her body physically changes in these months. Obviously a baby is growing but also her breasts will begin to produce milk in preparation to nourish a baby.
- In around the last trimester, a woman goes into something called nesting. When a mother is nesting, there is an internal drive inside her to clean, organize and prepare the last minute things before her baby is born.
- The baby will drop towards the final stages before labor and delivery.
In many ways, a person who has a calling on their life (all of us) will go through similar changes in the season of preparation for their calling. Now I’m not saying your preparation will be 10 months, either. Might be more! Might be less, but I am able to watch how quickly things are unfolding and get a better idea of how SOON to be expecting things, and what I need to do on my part.
I pray immense blessing over you as you seek the timing for your prophetic word or calling to come forth. I pray that ultimately, you would grow in intimacy with God, and hear the voice of Holy Spirit more clearly than ever.
No matter what God has called you to do, above all you are a son or daughter. That is your identity. You don’t have to strive to receive God’s approval. You may just abide in His love. Your identity is not rooted in your calling. Your identity is in knowing that you are God’s beloved child.
I believe in the call of God on your life so much that I am inviting you to take part in the Prophetic Round Table, a program created by my husband and I, with the intent of supporting people who want to launch out in to their destiny, go deeper into the prophetic, and awaken their spiritual life.