Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ministry: God's Call Not for the Fainthearted

God’s call is not for the fainthearted, whether to a mission field, an unpopular stand or a particular task. When God calls, expect difficulty and hardship. Expect to shed some blood, sweat and tears.
That’s not something we in twenty-first century America like to hear. We’re used to convenience and leisure and instant gratification. But as I read through the Bible, I see God calling his people to specific tasks that require hard work and sacrifice. For example, Noah was called by God to build an ark that would save his family as well as the animals God had chosen. How long did he have to work on building the ark? Scholars believe it was probably around sixty years. That’s sixty years of gathering materials, measuring, cutting, fitting, pounding, sealing. Hard work. Sweat. Is there anything you’d be willing to spend sixty years working on?
The Israelites fought many battles in their conquest of the Promised Land. We don’t read the details about every battle in the Biblical accounts, but this was war in all its bloody, gory, frightening, painfulness. And these messy battles continued through the period of the judges, King Saul, King David and beyond. God called them to the task, but it wasn’t easy. Most likely, some of the Israelite warriors gave their lives answering God’s call. Families were left without husbands and fathers and brothers and sons. Blood and tears. What are we willing to sacrifice for God’s call?
The prophets were often required to sacrifice their reputation and their safety in order to demonstrate God’s word to his wayward people. Jeremiah spent time sinking in the mud of a cistern, alone without food to strengthen him or sunshine to warm him. Isaiah was told to walk around naked for 3 years. And of course, Hosea’s heart broke over and over again as his wife played the harlot with other lovers. Rejection. Embarrassment. Are we willing to suffer personal shame for God’s call?
Even in the New Testament, people who believed Jesus was the Messiah were thrown out of the synagogues, persecuted by both Jews and Romans. Nearly all the apostles were killed because they felt called to follow the Lord. Paul even lists the times he was flogged, shipwrecked, stoned, etc. Followers of the Most High God didn’t expect to have it easy or convenient. They weren’t interested in a leisurely approach, and understood well that their reward would come later.
As a writer, I have answered God’s call but sometimes feel discouraged because the going is hard. The ideas aren’t flowing. The words won’t come. Maybe I’ve misunderstood what God wanted. I thought if He called me to write, He’d make it easy for me to accomplish. Oh, no. God’s call is an offer to stretch beyond our own resources, our own abilities. That’s hard. That can be discouraging. That involves long hours of lonely work. But, if that’s where you are, you’re in good company, and in good hands!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Answer God’s call on your life, but be ready to work to accomplish it.

Mary L. Hamilton is the author of Hear No Evil, Book 1 in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series for tweens. She grew up at a camp much like the setting for her book. When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors, though not all at the same time. She and her husband live near Houston, TX within range of their three grown children.

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