The 21 year old man had already spent years preparing himself for ‘the call’ he felt. In 1853, he got onto a ship and left England behind to serve as a medical missionary in China, a nation then largely untouched by the message of Christ. His first wife died at the age of 33 and 4 of his 8 children died before the age of 10 as well. He endured terrible bouts of depression and yet he persevered, founding the China Inland Mission. When his health completely collapsed he returned to England to recuperate. While in prayer, walking on a beach, he found new strength. He wrote – “There the Lord conquered my unbelief, and I surrendered myself to God for this service. I told him that all responsibility as to the issues and consequences must rest with him; that as his servant it was mine to obey and to follow him.” When he died in 1905, his network of missions was spread throughout China.
This Monday morning, do you have a sense of mission?
Perhaps that sounds a bit too grand for you, but truth is, all Christians are called by God and commissioned to serve His purposes in the world. My prayer is that we will seek a specific kind of calling that goes beyond – ‘be a nice person.’ While it is a good thing to want to be loving, patient, joyful, and kind for Christ’s sake, there is more. Everyone of us who has come to Jesus in response to the Holy Spirit’s invitation, is also given a gift (an ability from God) and a place to use it. Would you consider serving Him in an extraordinary way in ordinary circumstances?
For example – think this way –
God wants me to be the best Little League coach for His sake, helping kids who are feeling alone know that there is a God who loves them.
God has placed me in my place of employment where I will be a real friend and an excellent team member so that the Spirit can speak to those with whom I work.
God calls me to my extended family where I represent Him in a way that invites them to trust Him as Savior.
God wants me to become a foster parent loving little ones despite the hardship and disappointment so often associated with fostering.
God is asking to invite my coworkers to a small group where we can learn Scripture and pray together.
It’s dramatic to think about being commissioned to some ministry post on the other side of the globe (and some of you might be!) but most of us will find our mission next door!
You should not have to go it alone, either. In the book of Acts there are several stories about people being invited into service and then being ‘sent out.’ “One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.” So after more fasting and prayer, the men laid their hands on them and sent them on their way.” (Acts 13:2-3, NLT)
Start to define your dream by talking it over with other Christians. Praying together brings clarity. Ask them to pray for you. I love the principle found in this passage – “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped. ” (Ecclesiastes 4:12, The Message) Your pastor can (and hopefully would) lay hands on you and pray for the Spirit to give you a special ability to carry out the calling.
Read the Acts stories and stories of great Christians and you will soon discover that serving can be hard! Saying “yes” to the Lord does not mean that you will find smooth roads, open doors, and great results! The Enemy takes note of those who choose to obey the Call. He will oppose the effort. Other people may criticize, resist, even attempt to destroy your work. Fatigue will set in because spiritual work is hard. That is one reason why a network of praying friends is so very important to those who want to live in God’s purpose.
But, there is a richness to life for that person who says “Yes,” and starts to shape what she does not around what is easy or pleasant choosing instead to become part of the “divine conspiracy” to change the world.
Start to pray for God’s call to take shape today. Do not put it off for tomorrow. The world (next door!) is waiting for those of us who know hope and life in Christ to share it.
Here is a word from the Word. “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28, NLT)
Let’s go and change a life, starting with our own.
Abba, call me and give me courage to get up
off of the couch and give my life away in service.
Help me to see the opportunities to serve where I live.
Give me gifts and abilities far beyond my natural talents
so it is obvious Who is the true Source of life and good.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
In Jesus’ Name. Amen