Are you waiting for God to answer your prayers or perhaps reveal direction that will lead you to your life purpose? Have you been waiting a long time? What if God is waiting on you to move forward in faith?

So many stand still, waiting to see God’s answer to their prayers or to hear some thunderous instruction for life before they dare to take a step forward with Him. They study their Bibles, pray, and read books while they wait. They listen to podcasts and do exhaustive soul searching, but still…they remain where they are.

Now don’t get me wrong. There isn’t anything wrong with any of these things. In fact, we should read our Bibles and pray. But often answers don’t come and our purpose isn’t revealed until we move out with God into the unknown. Answers and purpose don’t usually lie around on our couches. They are more often revealed in the “doing” or in the “going.”

Do you remember the story of the lepers, told Luke 17:11–14? Ten lepers cried out to Jesus, begging Him to heal them. Jesus looked at them and said, “‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed” of their leprosy (NIV, emphasis added). Similarly, in John 4:49–51, an official pleaded with Jesus to come to his home to heal his son. Jesus told him to go back home and that his son would live. The man believed Jesus and started home. While the man was on his way, some servants met him with the news that his son was alive and well.

It was in their action and in their believing that God would act even before they saw their answer revealed that they received their healing and their answer. Likewise, it was in Abraham’s laying his son, Isaac, on the altar that God provided a ram (Genesis 22:10–14). It was in Noah’s building of the ark that he was saved from the flood (Genesis 6-7). It was in David’s using the slingshot that he defeated the giant (1 Samuel 17:48–49). It was in Moses’ raising his staff over the Red Sea that the waters divided so that he and the Israelites could escape the Egyptians (Exodus 14:16, 21). It was in the woman’s reaching toward Jesus that her issue of blood was healed (Luke 8:44).

Often there is a movement or action we must take before God will move. This forward motion is called trust and obedience. We must obey what we know God has told us to do. We must believe what God has told us already. The Bible says a person’s faith without works is dead (James 2:20).

Focus on taking steps to discover your purpose or direction in life. Expecting God to reveal your purpose before you start taking any action is like expecting the automatic doors at the grocery store to open before you start moving toward them. To open automatic doors—and to discover your purpose—you must start where you are and move forward, often one unsure step at a time.

And then, just like in the grocery store, you might come to a second set of doors, and then a third. Each set requires you to move toward it before it will open. Automatic doors only open one set at a time. It’s like that in life, too. As you take steps forward with God and maintain a heart tender toward Him, doors will open.

And what if they don’t? At those times, you may find that God is leading you to turn right or left or go down a different corridor with a different set of doors. You might think you know exactly where the doors are leading, but then God guides you to make a turn you weren’t expecting or makes an adjustment you weren’t anticipating.

That’s okay. Once you start moving, you can be sure that He will open the right doors at the right time, and what God has purposed will be revealed.

But sometimes, instead of moving forward and taking action, we use God’s perceived silence as an excuse to do nothing. We say, “If I knew what God wanted me to do, I’d do it. But since I don’t know, I’m not going to do anything at all.” And we sit and sit and sit…becoming so focused on ourselves and our “purpose” that we probably wouldn’t recognize it if it was delivered in a personal, handwritten letter from God Himself!

I know it’s hard not knowing the exact next step we should take. But there are many things that God instructs all of us to do—and we need to be doing those things at all times. One thing is for sure…your purpose (and mine) will always be focused on others. We are called to love and to forgive. We are all commanded to feed the hungry, help the poor, and take care of the widows and orphans.

Every one of us, no matter who or where we are, is called to serve God while we wait for Him to reveal our more specific purpose. And while we do that, we study our Bibles and pray.

Many times, our specific purpose arises out of a general purpose anyway, so we might as well start trying the things we are interested in and enjoy doing. In doing those things, we will begin to see where we have the greatest impact in people’s lives. We can trust God to lead us to more specific things.

If your “automatic doors” aren’t opening, maybe they represent a lesson God wants you to learn or a skill He wants you to acquire or something He wants you to experience before He moves you forward. Only He knows when you are ready to pass through the next set of doors. And you don’t want to move forward until you are ready.

The truth is, you can’t experience much of anything unless you are willing to step out with God. In John 5:5–8, Jesus met an invalid by the pool of Bethesda. This man had waited thirty-eight years to be healed. He’d probably spent much of that time suffering and feeling sorry for himself. But Jesus simply told him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

Could Jesus be saying the same to you?

Commit this year to getting up and moving toward the door God has set before you. He is waiting.

Written by Alyson Maupin

Photo by Tom Morel