Usually, my blogs are podcasts, and this will continue next week as usual. But today I wanted to post a brief reflection on our participation with God.
I do believe, with my whole heart, that God places a call upon each of us – sometimes this is a call to an explicitly Christian ministry, for example, a call to ordination or missionary work. But most often it is a call to be God’s person in the world, to use the gifts that we have been given to reveal God’s love to the people in our environment, to do our job in a way that reflects God’s values and priorities, to care for those in need, to live out our faith in authentic ways. It is a call to be Christ in the world.
For myself, after God called me into a relationship with him in 1984, I began to feel a sense of calling into ministry. I really can’t articulate what this call constitutes. I’m not one who has heard the Voice of God saying, “Adrian, I want you to do this.” Perhaps it was just a feeling. But it was a deep seated feeling, a strong conviction, an imperative, a persistent yearning, a burning in my belly, an annoying compulsion. There is something about this calling that I could not get away from. Nevertheless, I spent the first 20 years of my Christian life running away from this call. I was doing the Jonah! I genuinely did not feel equipped for ministry – my faith is far too frail and uncertain.
Then, back in 2004, through my participation in a version of the purpose driven church, I experienced a renewal of the call, so strong in fact that I HAD to do something about it. I approached a trusted spiritual advisor, and she affirmed the call and took it to our Church Council. Eventually, in August 2005 I preached my first sermon, on Romans 12:1 (you can access the text of this sermon, by clicking here). That first sermon was a confirmation of God’s call – as I stood at the lectern and broke open God’s Word, I knew, for absolute certain, that this is what I was put here for. It was only in acting upon God’s call that I really got confirmation of that call.
It has been a little over seven years, and I have been blessed, by God and the church, to have the opportunity to preach regularly – for the past couple of years it has been twice a month. I thank God for this privilege. God has opened up a space for me to do God’s work, for me to be used by God. This is something amazing about our God – God likes us to participate with him in his work in the world – God chooses to share the work with us. In the process of my participating with God, I have been blessed. And apparently others have been blessed through me. The knowledge that God’s Spirit touches others through my fragile offering of myself is awesome! It is in my brokenness and uncertainty, that God does what God does best – God loves his people.
For myself, the call that God has placed in me is not just an optional thing. Not something I can turn off. Not something that I can run away from. I cannot help but believe that since God gifts each of his children, and since God has a vision for each of his children, God must also have a call for each of his children. I believe firmly that God has a call for you. And if you are still reading this, then I want to prompt you to seek out that calling. To listen to God’s voice – typically, a still, small voice. To listen for God’s call – something in your bones, in your gut. Something burning, something that wants to grow, something that leads you towards God. God does not just call some; God calls each one. God calls you!
There is a poem that has been very meaningful to me in my journey, which I wish to share with you this week. I’m not much into poetry (I hear some of you gasp! Sorry about that), but this one expresses most accurately what I experience in myself. It puts into words an experience that I am not able to articulate myself. I stumbled across is by accident, but really I think this is a gift from God. And maybe it is a gift for you too.
What is this seed that thou has planted in me
that I must bring to fruit
or pass my life in sterile waste?
What is this gift that thou hast given me
that I must in turn pass on
or it will destroy me?
What is it you are asking me to do
that I must do
or know my life defeated?
I ask, in Christ’s name
– Edward Tyler, 1978
Prayers in Celebration of the Turning Year.