The world we live in puts pressure on all us to do many things. It is a complex life demanding competency of us in multiple ways – operating a car, using high tech gadgets, maintaining a home, navigating our job, tending relationships – it’s a long list! Sometimes we are exhausted by it all, aren’t we? We have a love/hate with the complexity. Very few of us want to give it up and live in an Amish kind of world, even though we know that the pace at which we live is beating us up every day. God invites us to a different way where we learn to do what He calls us to do. In that place, we give it all, but find renewal and rest. “Really,” you ask, “how is that possible?”
A fable fits my thoughts today.
Once upon a time, the animals decided they should do something meaningful to meet the problems of the new world. So they organized a school. They adopted an activity curriculum of running, climbing, swimming, and flying. To make it easier to administer the curriculum, all the animals took all of the subjects. Now, the duck, she was excellent in swimming. In fact, she was better than her instructor. But she made only passing grades in flying and she flunked running altogether. She was so bad at running, her instructors made her drop swimming and stay after school to practice running. This caused her web feet to be badly worn, so that she became only average in swimming. But average was quite acceptable, so nobody worried about that – except, of course, the duck.
The rabbit started at the top of his running class, but he developed a nervous twitch in his leg muscles because of so much make-up work in swimming. The squirrel was excellent in climbing, but she encountered constant frustration in flying class because her teacher made her start from the ground up instead of from the treetop down. She developed charley horses from overexertion, and so she only got a C in climbing and a D in running. Now the eagle was a real problem child. He was constantly being disciplined for being a nonconformist. In climbing class, he beat all the others to the top of the tree, but he insisted on using his own way to get there. (I first heard this from Pastor Chuck Swindoll)
The Bible says it this way. “You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)
Are you living outside of the purpose for your life that God intends?
Are you doing things for which you are not equipped, only deepening your frustration and sense of meaningless?
Or have you found contentment in Him, being no more and no less than He purposes, obedient to His calling?
Those are NOT easy questions to answer.
We are told to be and to do many things by our sense of obligation and by the people around us. Our parents pressured us into a career not because of any real love for the work but because ‘it will be secure.’ Necessity demands we hang onto a job we hate, that mortgage payment comes on the first of the month and must be paid. We keep doing things for which we have no desire somehow driven by a dutiful sense that God wants us there even though we have lost our vision and/or delight in the call! Responsibility is admirable. However, there is a time to ask God, “why did you make me?” And, seek to answer that question, the Spirit guiding, before you come to the end of life with the same kind of emptiness that fills up the lament of Solomon – “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
One of Satan’s effective conspiracies to keep us from joy is to keep us from living on purpose!
Has God called you to a quiet life of prayer?
Then you will be miserable and ineffective if you attempt to become a director of a large ministry.
Has God gifted you with compassion, causing you to desire to serve those who are needy and the oppressed?
Then why are you trying to lead a Bible class?
Has the Spirit given you insight into the Word so that you can help others understand His will?
Then why are you focusing your time and energy on a ministry focused on raising funds for a missions outreach?
God has shaped us for service where we will ‘fit’ and where we can find deep satisfaction in serving Him obediently. One of the reasons there are so many unhappy, unfulfilled, critical, and ineffective disciples is that they are serving in places to which they are not called, for which they are not equipped, while wearing a yoke that chafes and binds them. It takes a lot of courage to admit that to ourselves and others. If we begin to extricate ourselves from some service because we have come to realize that God has not called us to it, we will be criticized by others, perhaps even judged as unfaithful.
A caution is in order here … to think deeply about. Never confuse `easy,‘ with `called.‘ “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” the apostles taught the early Christians. (Acts 14:22) There is a reason that Jesus invites us to put on the yoke! There is a devil who does his best to frustrate God’s purposes. When we take the ‘call’ of God, we invite the opposition of His enemy. We are kept by Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit Who is not ‘only with you, He will be in you.’
Are you where God wants you to be, but attempting to live without relying on Him and the empowering Spirit? Living ‘on purpose’ requires that we know the calling of God and that we remain reliant on Him.
Take this word from Jesus with you today and meditate on it:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.
Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill- fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message
Jesus shall reign wherever the sun
Does its successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
‘Til moons shall wax and wane no more.
Blessings abound wherever He reigns,
The prisoner leaps to loose His chains;
The weary come home and find their rest,
And all the sons of want are blessed.
People and realms from every tongue
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
Voices of children shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His name.
Let every creature rise and bring
Honor and praises to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeats a loud “Amen.”
Jesus Shall Reign
Isaac Watts – public domain