The Persistent Call

What do I do now?  How shall I live the rest of my life?  Those are the questions that can arise when something changes your life circumstances.

Culture and politics can suddenly change things, leaving you feeling like an exile in a foreign land.  That literally happened to the ancient Hebrews.  Their enemy defeated their army, destroyed their cities, and deported their leading citizens by the thousands to Babylon.  Resettled in a foreign land, they faced tough questions.  Jeremiah sent them an encouraging letter.  “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and father sons and daughters…Seek the prosperity of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord in its behalf; for in its prosperity will be your prosperity” (Jer. 29:5-7).  Their calling was to live their lives, trusting the Providence of God.  They did, and God restored this exiled community to their homeland.  Their descendants witnessed the birth of a child called Immanuel, a fulfillment of their calling as a people.

Your calling in life does not change with your circumstances.  For the believer, life’s seasons come and go but your ultimate purpose remains.  Through you “God is love” comes alive to people you encounter.  Through you, God’s kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.  Through you, the afflicted are delivered from evil.  Through you the broken are restored and the lost are found.  Through you, things that are true, honorable, and lovely are seen. You are one of God’s fellow workers (1 Cor. 3:9), a high calling indeed.

Someone asked a dear saint I know, an invalid octogenarian, what motivates her to wake up every day.  She replied, “Friends, family, and the world still need my prayers.” Her circumstances changed, but not her calling.  She rises to this occasion: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer” (Rom. 12:10-12).  We share that calling with her.

If you are searching how to fulfill your calling, think about what moves you, what you enjoy, or what your skills and experience are.  Then consider what is missing you can contribute, what is broken you can restore, or what is evil you can resist.  Find alignment there, and you’ll find fulfillment.  Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

What do you do now?  Cherish friendships, invest your life in people, and wherever you go, take an awareness of the presence of God.  He restores and redeems.  He draws people to Himself.  And He calls you to share in that work.

Lord, I pray thou forever wouldst see, thy calling ever persisting in me.

 

Don’t Lose Focus

They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. – Jesus

Are you too emotionally staked to the outcome of this election?  However you feel about it, don’t lose focus.  Politics is downstream of culture, and culture is the collective thoughts and actions of people.  Only Jesus has the power to give sight to the blind, wisdom to the foolish, and strength to the weak.  When He does, culture will change and so will elections.

During WWII, in Mere Christianity C. S. Lewis wrote, “Enemy-occupied territory – that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage. When you go to church you are really listening-in to the secret wireless from our friends.”  That suggests the community of believers is part of a resistance.  Our mission is to carry with us the presence, goodness, and truth of God to people under siege by a culture desperate to cancel Him.

The culture beckons people to prioritize the pursuit of entertainment, pleasure, and comfort.  That sounds like the oldest lie of all, the one the serpent whispered in the Garden of Eden:  “Ye shall be as gods.”  That’s whispered in churches, too.  Cal Thomas warns in America’s Expiration Date about “a pseudo-religion that jettisons the doctrines of historical biblical Christianity and replaces them with feel-good, vaguely spiritual nostrums.  The highest goal of the religious life is being happy and feeling good about oneself.  It’s the perfect religion for a self-centered, consumerist culture.  But it is not authentic Christian faith.”  That religion needs no Savior.  It does need politicians and their utopian promises.

Cal Thomas offers a solution for politics and culture. “If reformation and restoration is to occur, it will not come from the top down, no matter how righteous government officials appear to be.  It can only come from a restored community of believers and from the bottom up, which means it must come from you and from me.”  Apply the gospel of Christ to yourself first, and make that message your mission.

If you are to sabotage something, let it be the notion that the culture identifies the problem and the government solves it.  The greatest problem for humanity has never changed.  It is the failure to see ourselves as God does: mortally flawed, incapable of self-rescue.  The world needs a Savior, not a new religion or an old politician.

Jesus prayed, “Just as You sent Me into the world, I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18).  You are in the world, but not of it.  Don’t let politics, elections, and cultural pressure distract you from the mission.  For Christ’s sake, don’t lose your focus.

 

Life in the Sun

“The Lord has spoken, and summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Psa. 50:1).

May cancer be forever wiped from the face of the earth.  And it will be in time, either by the wisdom God gives, or by His promise of a new heaven and a new earth.  Life in the sun is more precious when long enjoyment suffers diminishing prospects due to dread disease.

Denial and anger lurk in the shadows of such dim news.  He has so much left to offer, so many who care.  She is so kind, so giving.  It isn’t fair.  It all feels so random.  Why not another someone?  Walter Hooper, secretary to C. S. Lewis, faced those thoughts during Lewis’ declining health.  He wrote, “I told Lewis that I was tempted to tell Our Lord that I thought it monstrously unfair that He should allow (a certain naughty old man) to seemingly go on forever and yet let Lewis, only 64, come close to death. ‘What is that to you?’ Lewis replied.”  Lewis had quoted the Lord’s rebuke to Peter who raised the same objection, comparing his lifespan to John’s (John 21:22).

God’s sovereignty in your life has purpose.  He “determined their appointed times…that they would seek God” (Acts 17:26-27).  But faced with the prospect of loss, it’s easy to look on the past as all that matters.  In 1973, Terry Jacks recorded the downcast “Seasons in the Sun.”  About three people close to him he sang, “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.”  It’s OK to grieve for what is lost and what might have been.  Yet for the believer, the future is expectant!  It is not for us to “grieve as do the rest who have no hope” (1 Thes. 4:13).

Growing old also makes you think about life in the sun.  A lady of fine vintage who enjoyed writing verse bore a child some threescore years past.  He inherited that predilection. Yet I make no claim that my verse is as clever as hers.  I’m typically inspired by birthdays.  Alas, I confess and disclose my latest:

It’s my birthday and it’s a big one. Life’s a journey and I am not done.
If I have one thing to say, to borrow a phrase, if I may:
I’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when I first begun.
So I’ll rejoice, it’s been a good run. Sixty pleasant years under the sun.

What an adventure it will be to fly away from the light of one sun to that of another!  By faith, your destiny is another city, one that “has no need of the sun…for the glory of God has illumined it” (Rev. 21:23).  Journey on, Traveler, and cast a confident gaze toward life in that Son!