Tag Archives: call of God

Happiness within the Call

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From the time my sister was in college until just a few years ago she has worked at various positions with Senior Citizens.  She loves old people.  (We always joke that I get the kids and she gets the old people.)  She can hug someone over 100-years old (very gently) any time she wants!

But there was a time when the company she was working for was under lousy management and working there become stressful.  Fortunately another position opened within the Christian university that we both attended.  It paid more and offered a fresh environment with a challenge.  She worked there for about 5 years, and though she enjoyed her job, she missed her old people.  Always missed them.

We talked about it.  After all these years, I think she finally realized that working with Seniors is what she was MADE  to do.  It was her Calling.  She would only feel fulfilled in her work if she was working with old people.  So when all the doors suddenly opened up for her to return to her old company as PART OF the management- to really do some good and affect some changes- she jumped at the opportunity.  We all encouraged her to follow her calling.

This last week my sister wrote this on her Facebook page:

Two moving moments today at work:
1) Having a grey-haired, 60-something adult child tear-up while I was counseling him about getting though his parents’ move.

2) Having an 80-something resident make ME tear-up. He lived at Augustana back when I worked there before and was one of my favs. He said to me, “Back in 2003, you did one of the kindest things that anyone has ever done for me. When we took a trip to Lakewood Cemetery, you offered to visit my wife’s grave with me. I’ve never forgotten that and it will be the last thing I think of before I close my eyes for the last time.” UGH! Tears!

I have thought many, many times about my purpose in life.  Personally, I feel most fulfilled being a missionary.  I feel that this was what I was MADE to be.  My sister feels that working with Seniors is what she was MADE to do.  Isn’t it a wonderful thing when you find the purpose and meaning for your life?  I think there are a lot of people out there still working in jobs they don’t love and wondering if they missed their occupational calling in life.  That’s sad.

Even though no one calls her a “Minister”, what my sister does IS ministry.  She ministers to old people and to their families who are struggling with the transition that their loved ones are going through.  She treats her job as sacred and sees it as a chance to share the love of God with people.  And THAT is how you handle a Calling.  When you KNOW that this is what God wants you to do with your life, you treat it as sacred.

The Call

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I don’t feel like I was ever specifically CALLED by God to be a missionary.  It’s more like I volunteered… over and over again.  OK, I begged, “Pick Me!  O-o-o Pick Me!”

In his famous devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers said, ” The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.”  When Isaiah was in the Presence of the Lord, he overheard God ask, “Who will go for us?”  And Isaiah volunteered.  Isaiah’s heart was listening to God.  He didn’t need a personal invitation, he heard God’s heart and delighted to satisfy God’s desires.

A famous quote by William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, says,

“‘Not called!’ did you say?  ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say.  Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin.  Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heard of humanity,and listen to its pitiful wail for help.  Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sister, and servants and masters not to come there.  And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and sound and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.”

So what are you doing TODAY to answer the call?  I will close with one more quote from William Booth.  He said, “Go for souls.  Go straight for souls, and go for the worst.”

What if “Success” isn’t the Goal?

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“For some people their apprehension about stepping out in faith is really a fear of failure.  They do not do what God has called them to because they are afraid they may not succeed.  Listen carefully.  When God calls you to something, He is not always calling you to succeed, He’s calling you to obey!  The success of the calling is up to Him; the obedience is up to you.” ~David Wilkerson

The Kingdom of God has been rightfully called “The Upside-Down Kingdom”.  It’s like stepping through Alice’s Looking Glass into a place where the first are last, and the meek inherit the land, and to be the greatest you must be the servant.  Everything we know in the world is turned on its head… including the standard of Success.

Would it shock you to learn that God is not at all interested in your personal success?  Joel Osteen has it all wrong.  In this Upside-Down place, God is more interested in the Process of making you who he wants you to be than in making you a successful person.  He’s more interested in crushing and squeezing you to make you into sweet wine.  He may call you to do something which will look like failure in the eyes of the world.  He sent Joseph to Egypt as a slave.  He sent Paul to Rome in chains.  He banished John to a remote island.  Why?  Because He had a purpose which required this kind of process.

Joseph was to be the source of rescue for his family years later when a drought ravaged the land.  Paul was chained to a Roman guard so he would settle down and write the letters of the New Testament.  And John was sitting quietly in a cave when the Revelation was given to him.  All of these men had to accept what looked like failure in order to achieve the calling.

“[The call of God] has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine.  Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us.  We say, ‘If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!’  But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object.  Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom.  If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.”  ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

Running on the Hamster Wheel

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This is part 3 of our story of how we were called into missions.  If you missed the last 2 days, you can go back and read them, or you can pick it up from here.

We had just bought a new house, but something strange was happening to me.  I kept forgetting what the front of my house looked like.  I don’t know how many times I drove right past my own house and had to turn around and go back.  I just couldn’t fix it in my mind.  So one day as I was pulling out of the driveway I turned around for one last look of the house to try to fix it in my memory.  Suddenly the Lord spoke to my heart and said, “This isn’t yours, don’t get comfortable here.”  I had no idea what that meant.

There was a little lake across the street from our house, a mile and a quarter around.  I’ve never been a runner, but all that spring I had such a restlessness in my spirit so I started running around the lake in the mornings.  I’d run and run and run, trying to out run my restlessness.  Trying to escape out of my own mind.  I ran so much that I started to feel like a hamster running on the wheel, always running and never getting anywhere, uselessly running in circles.  I felt restless.  Change was coming.

Then the purging began.  I started giving stuff away.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe surrounded by so much stuff!  I just had to get rid of stuff.  I didn’t care about money, I just wanted to purge my life.  And with each gift to friends and family, I felt lighter and freer.  It felt good, so I kept doing it.  I just gave stuff away!  That was weird, but in a good way.  Change was still coming.

Then one day we came home from Youth Group on a Wednesday night and I felt like a light switch had just turned off in my heart.  “I think I’m done,” I told Josh.  That’s it, I’m just done.  Well, he wasn’t done.  But I said, “when you do feel done, don’t wait for me- I’m already there.” So that was that.  Nothing left to do but wait for God to make his move.  Waiting for change is like waiting for the storm to arrive.  Tense.

A few months later Josh walked into the senior pastor’s office and plopped down in the chair.  “I think I’m done.”  He finally was feeling the winds of change blowing through our lives and he too was uncertain about which direction they would carry us.  Our pastor suggested missions, knowing how much we loved going on our trips with our teenagers.  “Hmmm, maybe someday, but not yet” Josh said.  Our pastor graciously let us stay on staff until we figured things out, for as long as it took.

A month later we were on a missions trip to Mexico City that had been in the works for nearly a year.  We knew it was our last trip, but the kids didn’t know anything.  On the last day there, the missionary took us to the University campus UNAM.  He told us that there were 400,000 kids studying on this campus and it’s extensions, yet we have no ministry for them.  He asked us to walk around the campus and pray for God to send workers here.  Josh and I sat down on a bench together.  He looked at me and said, “Well, what do you think?”  and I knew exactly what he meant.

In a fraction of a second, I had an entire conversation in my heart with the Lord.  “Mexico?  Mexico?!?  But I took FRENCH!!!  Oh wait, is this one of those times when I say Yes to what you want and then you give me what I really want?”  No.  Then in a flash, the Lord took me to all the times that I had ever knelt at an altar after a missions service and begged, “Send me!  I’ll go ANYWHERE!  Just send me SOMEWHERE!”

And he asked me Did you really mean anywhere?”

I paused, then I said, “Yes Lord.  I did mean anywhere.  I will go where ever you ask me to go.”  And I had the sensation of free falling off a cliff… backwards, arms flung wide open… and I had no fear because I knew the Lord would catch me.  Surrender.

...Read part 4 tomorrow…

Scratching the Itch

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This week I’m going to walk you through a bit of our personal story about how my family and I ended up on the mission field.  I hope you enjoy our story and find encouragement and inspiration for your own journey.

I grew up in a Christian home.  As a matter of fact, when I was in 4th grade, my Dad was hired as the Youth Pastor at our church.  As a preacher’s kid, I was in the church every time the doors were opened.  But my favorite times, by far, were Sunday nights when missionaries would come with their tables spread with snake skins and bobbles from far away lands.  I love their costumes and slide shows.  I loved their stories and their altar calls.  I can’t tell you the number of times I have responded to the plea of “who will go?”  My little heart was like a hand waving desperately from the back of the room, “ooh-ooh pick me!  pick me!!” I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be called by God to go somewhere- anywhere.

I had Sunday School teachers and girls’ club leaders who read aloud exciting missionary stories of miracles and dangerous escapes and prayers answered and visions and angels and spiritual show-downs in witch doctor infested jungles.  Oh the adventures!  The thrilling adventures kept me coming back for more.  I searched the library for missionary biographies.  I collected the little picture prayer cards that the missionaries left in the back of the church lobby.  I studied maps and located the countries that I was interested in.  (I was the weird girl who lined her bedroom walls with maps instead of boy band posters.)  I couldn’t get enough of the world!

Time progressed and in Junior High we started studying languages.  I chose French.  Four years later I was a true Francophile.  I was convinced that someday I would live in Paris.  I was sure of it.  My teacher said I had a pretty accent.

The years still continued to slide along evenly, yet too slowly for my tastes.  When the Berlin Wall fell, I remember standing in front of a newspaper stand near our home in a suburb of Chicago and looking with disbelief at the first photos of people embracing across the span of that horrid barrier.  I remember thinking, “I should be there!  I was born too late.  I should be there by now.”  My Europe was changing without me.  And I didn’t even have a drivers’ license yet, let alone a passport.

College came.  I fell in love with a Youth Ministries Major.  I schemed and plotted and maneuvered until he caught me.  🙂  The only problem was, Josh was kind of a home-body and I had the itch to travel.  Before we got married I looked at him and made him promise something.  I said, “Promise me someday we’ll do missions.”  Of course he confessed later that he just wanted to get married, so he said Yes.  But God heard.

For 8 years we worked as youth pastors at the same church where my Dad had been youth pastor.  Life was coming full circle for me, but I longed for what was outside of my circle.  Every other year we took our youth group kids on a missions trip overseas.  This trip was the highlight of my year, and I would beg, borrow and steal to make it happen.  Once it meant I weaned my nursing baby earlier than I wanted to just so I could go on a missions trip.  I was serious about this!  In 8 years, we visited Panama, England, Thailand, and Mexico in addition to a personal trip to the Czech Republic just because I’d always wanted to go to Prague.  For me, those trips were scratching the missions itch.  For Josh, each one was a stretching exercise.  In each country he would ask himself, “Could I live here?” and each time, the answer was No.

To be continued tomorrow…

The Echo

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“If you abandon everything to Jesus, and come when He says, ‘Come,’ then He will continue to say, ‘Come,’ through you.  You will go out into the world reproducing the echo of Christ’s ‘Come.’  That is the result in every soul who has abandoned all and come to Jesus.”

 ~Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for High Highest
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Our lives reverberate, flexing and rippling with the impact of something greater than our own being.  And since no man is an island, our ripples expand across the face of time and touch other ripples, effect other lives.  We are the echo of God calling to the world:  “Come to me all who are thirsty.  Come to me if you are hungry for more.  Come to me if you are exhausted by your burdens.  I am as satisfying as food and drink.  I am strong enough to carry your load for you.  Come.”  And we echo the call.
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We reflect.  Like the moon which cannot shine with her own radiance, we reflect the radiance of God.  We are just a ball of dirt in the middle of emptiness and nothingness.  But when God’s light is reflected from our life, we light the darkness with an incomparable beauty.  The moon echos the light of the sun.  Without the sun, she is dark and cold.  Her brilliance is borrowed, her glory is not her own.  I echo the light of God.
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What are you reflecting?  What is the echo of your life saying?  Are you multiplying light or deepening the darkness?