God Always Equips the Called
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:8-13
The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that God has plans for us, plans that will be revealed to us when we seek God with all our heart. These words are true as each and every one of us is called by God to participate in bringing God’s Kingdom here on earth. When we offer the prayer that Christ taught us “thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven….”, we are not to sit back and wait for God’s miraculous transformation to be done in this world, we are to participate as we are called.
It is a blessing to work among so many who are called, equipped and sent forth to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This month is Pastor’s Appreciation Month and it has caused me to reflect on the impact that a number of pastors have made on my life. Appreciating our pastors is something that we should do each and every day and we should look for opportunities on occasion to recognize them and show them our gratitude. Pastors live in a fishbowl, with their congregations and often communities watching their each and every move. We expect them (and sometimes their families) to live ideal lives and we want them to be available to us and always offer us the support and provide the answers that we need. We need to pray regularly for our pastors, encourage them to take regular Sabbath time and recognize that they are imperfect human beings, just like us!
Every now and then I have the opportunity to hear someone’s call story. A few months ago I went to our conference’s Call Retreat to have lunch with Gabe Mitchell who is responding to God’s call on his life and has recently entered the candidacy process. He told me “I know that God has plans for me in ministry. I don’t know what it looks like, but I don’t have to know what it looks like. I just need to be faithful and respond.” Gabe is a gifted young man with a beautiful wife and an adorable and spunky little girl. He has a good job and is already serving as a youth pastor in a church where his father had served for 16 years before he joined the communion of saints in 2014. Gabe is aware that the Methodist Church is one of itinerancy. He is willing to face the unknown as he seeks to be faithful to God’s call on his life, taking it one step at a time.
Many of us are not called to be ordained as Deacons or Elders or to become a Licensed Local Pastor. But we are all called to ministry as one of God’s people who are to be about the work we were all given in the Great Commission. We are to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”, and as St. Francis of Assisi reminds us we should “Preach the Gospel; if necessary use words.” I take this to mean that we are to LIVE the Gospel and let the way we treat others and the way that we attempt to be faithful be our primary witness.
God puts people in our path that we are to serve. We are sometimes asked to step out of our comfort zones or to take steps in faith without knowing what exactly God has in store for us. Sometimes we find ourselves feeling led to become equipped for work or service and we don’t yet know what that work or service will be, but we don’t have to know. We are just to be faithful and take it one step at a time. I give thanks for the words from the prophet Isaiah “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (41:10) Amen.
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