October 16, 2009

Need versus Call

Sometimes I do things because no one else will step up, or because they need to be done, or because the person doing them is struggling without the necessary skills, or because I like a challenge. Those are all the wrong reasons.

The Lord challenged me this week to make a list of everything that I do that helps or encourages others. The idea is that if the Lord is in it, then my strength will come from Him. When I have finished the task, I might be tired, but He will give me joy. On the other hand, if the Lord is not in it, then I will feel drained and unhappy.

I realize that I can choose to grumble about hard work, but this isn’t about complaining after the fact. It is about going into something because the Lord led me into it, called me to the task. I’ve already listed some of the other options, most of which are a perceived need on my part rather than a call from Him to do it.

I made my list. I’m a busy person, too busy, so I know some things should not be on that list. Then I gave it to my husband and told him to mark those items that result in fruit in my life (like love, joy, peace) and mark those that result in me being withered up and unfruitful.

I also realize that I might do things that produce fruit in others, not merely in me. A simple phone call or letter, or taking time to help someone could give them joy because God is in it and helped me, but He had the other person’s need in mind. This isn’t about that either. People do have needs and I must care about them and be open to God leading me to help, even if it costs me something, but this need versus call is more about motivations. The idea is that if the Lord leads me into something, He will give me what I need to do it. I will not be burned out and drained because the fruit of righteousness (obeying God) is peace and joy.

My husband marked the list. Without looking at what he marked, I did the same. He put an X beside three things. I put an X beside four. Two of those were the same items. We discussed it and concluded that the Lord was not in either one when I started them, and I am not blessed in the doing of them, even when I pray and ask for His help. Perhaps I’m taking the place of someone who is better equipped for those two tasks? I’m not sure of the reason, but it is time to take action and back off.

This is not easy, at least for one of them. Dropping it means someone else needs to pick it up, and in my estimation, there is no one. How can I drop it without letting people down? How can I say ‘I quit’ without finding a replacement? Then I read today’s devotional verse.

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Jesus once said to His disciple, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

This is the same idea. I cannot see Jesus yet believe. I cannot see a replacement or an answer to my dilemma, but God is calling me to live by faith. This means I can leave these two items out of my schedule and trust Him to fill the space with someone else. I went into them with the wrong reason for doing so — response to a need. I need to bow out with the right reason for doing so — obedience to God’s call.

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