It is about 1:30 in the morning, so this is going to be a short post about a couple thoughts that I had during a road trip today.
I was listening to a sermon by Greg Boyd while riding in the car, and I was challenged as he built onto a concept that I have been learning. I have told the story about my journey in Ecuador, about how I gave up my missionary calling only to have God chase me down. He showed me during that time that He, God Almighty of the Universe, does not need me for any purpose that He Himself could not do. However, He had chosen me to fulfill a particular purpose, a role in His Kingdom and He wasn’t about to let me off the hook. I learned that He truly and deeply desires me.
Greg Boyd was talking on the podcast about our giftings and our purposes in life and in God’s Kingdom, and he brought up a very important point: God needs us. Now this is an interesting concept, especially in the context of the story I just shared. While it is true that God Almighty can do anything, it is also true that He chooses to limit His work by calling us humans to have a role in the plan. He could have, in fact, created the world with humans that serve and worship Him mindlessly, but He didn’t. He created humans with free will with not only the power to reject Him and in turn accept an eternity without Him, but He also gave humans the free will to accept Him and reject an eternity without Him (to spend eternity with Him). Along with this free will to accept Him, we have also been given the incredible gift to live out a purpose that God has planned for our lives; the opportunity to contribute in a real way to an exciting and Divine redemption plan. That means that as followers of Christ, we are not spiritual freeloaders, but rather have a responsibility to use what is given to us by God appropriately within the Body of Christ.
He used the example of a pastor and a church secretary. The church was looking to relocate to another building, and as the pastor was driving by a certain location, he saw that it was for sale. When he arrived at the church, he asked his secretary to look into what it would cost to purchase the property. Two weeks passed by and the pastor decided to follow-up with the secretary to see what she found out. As it so happened, she had forgotten to make the call amidst all her other obligations. They soon discovered that the building had been in the perfect price range but had been purchased by another organization just eight days before. Because the secretary had failed to follow-up in a timely manner, the church was unable to move to the new location.
Some might say, “Well, it must not have been God’s will that the church would move into the building.” However, is this actually the truth, or was God wanting to work through the secretary to make things happen? Surely God can take our mistakes and our missed opportunities and redeem them, but I wonder if sometimes we miss God’s best because we are not “on our game”. God does not need us to do His work because He is unable; but it is Biblical that God has needed His people throughout history to not only be obedient to His calling, but to offer Him their best service. He has chosen in many situations to place the consequences of blessings or repercussions in the hands of people. The question is: will we be faithful?
There are many times looking back over my life when I can see clearly where I have perhaps missed out on God’s best. I have let fear keep me from stepping out when I knew God wanted me to move, and more often than not when I have stepped out, I have let that fear give me a spirit of timidity and I gave a half-hearted effort. The reason why I felt insecure is ultimately irrelevant; the truth is that I was not wholeheartedly obedient. I can see this in two main areas of my life: my writing and my public speaking. I have not pursued writing in many avenues where God opened the door because I was afraid. In public speaking, I have accepted opportunities, but believed myself incapable of being great. When I spoke, it came from a place of false humility. True humility is seeing ourselves as God sees us. I have learned that God does not see me as weak; rather He has made me weak so that I could show His strength. The spirit inside of me is not timid if it is truly His Holy Spirit that fills me. If He has called me, then He is with me and in me. There is no reason for me not to proceed with bold confidence.
I have found that usually the question that people wrestle with is not “What does God want me to do?” but rather it is, “Can I truly do what God has asked me to do?” Sometimes we question our callings, thinking that our belief in our incapability means that we must have heard something wrong. “Surely God wouldn’t ask me to do that. I must need to revisit this calling thing.” God has placed within us certain abilities and desires directly related to our purposes in life. For me, my calling to missions was no surprise, even though I struggled and tried to run away. God’s purpose was engrained so deeply in my heart that I could not question it. I doubted my ability to fulfill that purpose.
What if I were to courageously step up and do what I already know God wants me to do? I believe that I am being obedient to Christ by moving to South America to do mission work in four days. However, I also need to be aware that this action alone is only the beginning of my obedience. God also wants my heart. He wants me to be fully committed to the task, and He wants to coach me along the way. It is true that I am not going to be perfect at it in the beginning, and there is an element of the task that I will always need His strength and grace. However, He has called me to give my best and full attention to this task and to always strive for perfection in His Kingdom. Perfection in His eyes means that I live out my purpose in every way, doing all that He created me to do. His perfectionism does not beat me over the head when I make a mistake, but rather pushes me to learn from those mistakes to serve Him better in the future. He sees the potential that He created in me. Just like a runner trains for a race, disciplining and pushing himself forward, we should seek to push ourselves and discipline our spirits well in order that we might win the prize: God’s best for His Kingdom.
In what ways have I been hesitating in God’s calling? I may be going through the motions, but am I proceeding courageously and boldly into His purpose for my life? We have the ultimate superpower behind us and working through us. When we are following God’s will, there is no reason why we should be afraid or shrink back from giving the task our all. If God has called us, He will give us everything we need to accomplish what it is He has asked us to do. He has given us the responsibility of contributing to the outcome of certain crossroads, not because He can’t work things out, but because He has chosen to use us as vital conduits for His Kingdom. Many opportunities for God’s redemption and salvation have been lost over the centuries due to a lack of obedience on behalf of His people. Many hearts have been turned away from salvation due to the lack of holy example on behalf of those who call themselves His people. So the question is: what does your life look like? Are you dormant in your faith? Are you half-heartedly serving? Are you an antonym of Jesus’ love? It’s time to inventory! Evaluate where you are, take it to God, and submit yourself wholly to His purpose!
There are those that I know who genuinely have sought after God and are still unsure of God’s direction for their lives. My friend brought up a fantastic point in conversation the other day: follow Him anyway. In the Bible, God has laid out many general and specific commandments that apply to every follower of Christ. Do not let your lack of direction keep you from doing anything in service to the Kingdom. Do not let your lack of direction keep you from seeking Christ daily and faithfully through every decision and circumstance life brings your way. It is truth that God is directing your path, though you may not be aware of His work. The Bible says that many have entertained angels unaware. It is important that God’s people are faithful and enthusiastic about their purpose in life and in the Body of Christ. Every part is important and every part is designed exactly the way God wanted it. He makes no mistakes and He does not waste time. Where are you in your walk with Him today?