September 10, 2011

My “Calling”

As the oldest person in a seminary class, I was challenged when one of the young students asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was his way of trying to find out why I was taking a masters degree at my age.

The problem with his question is that I’ve never been able to figure out what I want to be. Others have a sense of career or calling, but I never have. When people ask me what I do, I try to pick one of my many activities that might aid our conversation. Since I’ve not had a formal job since marrying my dear hubby, I sometimes quip that I am a “kept” woman.

Spurgeon’s devotional for today is about the calling of God. He uses a passage that describes Jesus’ selection of the twelve disciples.

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach and have authority to cast out demons. (Mark 3:13–15)
The first part of this passage shows that Jesus is sovereign. He called those He wanted to call and they came. Right away He reminds me of what He has been saying to me all week, that my life is in His hands and that I need not be anxious about it. He will tell me what I need to do and to know, and for that, I need to “be with Him.”

Spurgeon says, “Impatient spirits may fret and fume, because they are not called to the highest places in the ministry” but adds that I ought to rejoice that Jesus calls whomever He wills, and if He leaves me to be a “doorkeeper in his house,” I must cheerfully obey and do just that. It is by grace that anyone is permitted to do anything small or great for Him.

Further, the call to Christ’s servants comes from a high place. The mountain in these verses represents staying above all that is in the world. Jesus is above in holiness, zeal, love and power. When He calls someone to service, that person must go up the mountain as it were, seeking to rise to His level by constant communion and total obedience.

This leaves out other things such as any honor a person might seek such as excellence in career, or scholastic eminence, or recognition in other pursuits. Also, the call of God to service is like the experience of Moses who went up into the mountain of God and had communion with the unseen God. Otherwise, there is no power or anything else needed to do the job. This is not a part-time occupation.

Jesus often went apart from others to have deep fellowship with His Father. Those who are called to serve God must also do the same if they are going to bless humanity and heed that call on their lives. The calling of God is not without cost. While it seems a noble thing to be sent into the world to preach and cast out demons, the disciples needed to be clothed with power and able to do the job that He called them to do. That power is perfected only in weakness. Weakness is not much fun.

Not only that, spending time with God is essential to any ordination to a lifework. No one can be a blessing to others until they see and spend time with Jesus. No one can cast out devils or work wonders unless girded with divine energy. All human ability and resources must be abandoned for total dependance on that which Christ alone can give.

I know that I cannot do anything apart from Him. I cannot fight spiritual battles without heavenly weapons, nor speak to others about Jesus without His grace and power. This is not the issue for me today. The issue is the idea of being “called” to something. He says to me that He does the appointing and sending. I cannot come up with my own life plan and then ask Him to give me what I need to carry it out. What I want to be when I grow up is not my call; it is His.

Father, You warn against selfish ambition. This can apply to any desire to rise above the ordinary and be more than You have asked. I know that I must see Jesus and spend time with You for the power to do anything that each day demands. I must do the same for the direction that doing takes. If You do not call me to a “career path” or a lifetime on one particular track, then I must listen to You every moment of every day simply for Your will for that moment or that day.

As I think about my tendency to not listen very well and do my own thing, I can see Your wisdom in this for me. Without that sense of needing to hear from You almost all the time, I’d not walk as close to You as I should. I’m thankful that You call me up the mountain often, even if You send me back down with rather ordinary tasks that seem to have little significance. I am glad that You know what is best for me and that includes learning how to listen and obey in what seems like a very ordinary life.

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