September 29, 2013

God’s calling on my life . . .

Speakers and attendees at writer’s conferences usually talk about their calling as a writer, or that God called them to do this. One said that without this call, you should not be a writer. Another said that we must respond to the call and be persistently faithful in doing what God has called us to do. Another said (see yesterday’s post) that we are called to love and obey God and it might be writing today but something else tomorrow.

I’ve not heard any calling from God to be a writer or to focus on anything else. I continually wonder what I’m “supposed to be when I grow up” for I can do many things. Which is God’s “call” for me? This is perplexing and as I drove home yesterday, I was thinking that question. What am I called to do? God gives me an answer this morning. The problem is with my understanding of a calling.

Oswald Chambers says that the calling of God is not necessarily one of those ah-ha moments that I thought it was. I was looking for a lightning bolt from heaven, writing on the wall, a sudden revelation. But Chambers suggest something different. He even says, “If you can tell where you got the call of God and all about it, I question whether you have ever had a call.”

Chambers speaks of this calling being more the mystical, supernatural touch of God, a deeper yearning of the heart. He draws his thoughts from this verse . . . 

For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16)

The call of God is more supernatural than I thought. While understanding can come with a sudden thunder-clap or with a gradual dawning, but has an “undercurrent of the supernatural that cannot be put into words” and is always “accompanied with a glow” which I interpret as a deep and rich knowledge of who I am and what I must do.

I understand what Chambers writes. It is that sense of this is the job for me. Paul’s words were not about salvation nor about becoming more like Christ and because of that, we should do this thing. He didn’t describe his calling in those terms, but as a necessity laid upon him.

I take that to mean that this was something he had to do. It was built-in, like breathing. For him, preaching was in total harmony with the way God made him. He couldn’t help it. He even said, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” This task had no competition in his life. It came first, was a necessity that he could not resist or change and was more important than anything else.

For me, that has always been sharing spiritual truth with others, not preaching but teaching what God says. For the past year since we moved, I’ve felt somewhat like a fish out of water. We moved to a new church as well, and that situation has an adjustment time, time to meet and know people, time to get “the lay of the land” and for the leadership of the church to see where I best fit.

I’ve also been in a wilderness of temptation and testing. God has shown me ugly things about myself and been at work changing my thinking and how I speak and act toward others. That seems a good thing, but for me, it has been realizing just how much farther I have to go to “grow up” and be mature as a Christian. Instead of greater confidence, God is far more concerned that I have a contrite and teachable heart, so needful no matter my “calling.”

Last week I was asked to teach again. This is actually a command from God for the Great Commission says I am to do this . . . 

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 28:19–20)

But this is also how He made me. In my heart, the most important thing for Christians is to learn about God, to think His thoughts, to grow in grace, to grasp what the Bible says and apply it to their lives. Teaching is His purpose for me and my purpose in the church. I have never termed this a “calling” but now I see that is what it is.

This weekend, several told me that they learned from me as writers, and were thankful. That was a confirmation, but I also look back at thirty years of teaching Bible studies and see how God has used the process in my own life. As Paul said, woe to me if I am not doing what the Lord has laid on my heart. It is a necessity.

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