“Pastor, I really want to serve the Lord. I’m feeling the call to do ___________ and hope this church will support me.” That comment, in some form, is one that I hear quite often. Some follow through, apply themselves, make being Jesus’ disciple the top shelf priority in life. They discover the rich joy of fruitful and effective service and the work of God is stronger for their faithfulness. Others start, find out just how hard it can be, or get bored, or become distracted, and first come the complaints, then the excuses, and then they disappear.
There are seasons in life. The Word teaches us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, … a time to tear down and a time to build.” (Eccl. 3:1-3) But, when we are deciding to move on, to leave one call for another, the question that must be first is not our convenience, but rather God’s call.
One of the sad moments in the Gospels takes us to the Garden where Jesus is wrestling with the coming sacrifice. He is stressed, brokenhearted, and needs support. “Please pray with me,” He asks the disciples. What do they do? Fall asleep! Not once, does He ask, but twice! The frustration is evident when He asks “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.” (Matthew 26:40, NIV)
Are you a person on whom the Lord can depend? Surprised?
We tend to only think of God as our Resource, the One on whom we can lean. He is! But … He desires faithfulness in us, as well. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4, NIV) That word, “remain,” is translated as “abide” in the KJV. The original textual word is one that means to ‘continue to be present, to endure, to settle on and stay.’ Jesus is teaching us that a faith walk that is scheduled at our convenience, that is shaped around our ‘spare time,’ that is more like a hobby than a calling cannot produce the rich life in us that He desires. The only way His character and life can be reproduced in us is if we are willing to stay connected to Him – in the good times and bad, when we ‘feel like it’ and when we do not.
Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries, a Bible teacher who is now 84 years of age, goes right to the point. She says, “If you do not plan to live the Christian life totally committed to knowing your God and to walking in obedience to Him, then don’t begin, for this is what Christianity is all about. It is a change of citizenship, a change of governments, a change of allegiance. If you have no intention of letting Christ rule your life, then forget Christianity; it is not for you.”
None of us is rich enough in time or energy to do all of the things we want to do or even are told we must do. There are choices that are required and those choices are hard! Choose wisely and you will find the life God planned. Choose foolishly and you will squander it.
The words from the Word invites our reflection. They are not a comforting. They challenge.
“Teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.” (2 Timothy 2:2-7, NLT)
“Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62, NLT)
Are you fit to serve, committed, connected?
Father, help me to learn to ‘abide.’
When You invite me to love You,
May I have the courage to say yes, and follow through.
So many other things, opportunities, and distractions
Compete for my attention.
I need Your wisdom to sort out the best from the good,
The most valuable from the things that just are glitter and glam.
Jesus, help me to walk with You as a friend on Whom You can rely.
Spirit of God, keep me connected, committed, and faithful to the end.