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Apr 27 2013

What is our Calling?

What is our calling?

Are we called to do something for God?  Many times we can get frustrated and exhaust ourselves trying to figure out the answer to that question…what are called to be?

I was in a Bible Study a few weeks back and I heard the heart ache in a woman who was struggling with whether she was doing enough for God.  She was like so many of us…unsure if she was using her talents in the way God is calling her to do.  Then a discussion began…how do we know if we are doing what God has called us to do?  Not an uncommon discussion.  I hear it a lot.  I’ve struggled with it myself.

Am I doing what God has called me to do?

Many would say you are if you are leading others to Christ and they are receiving His gift of Salvation through what you are doing…that this is the only fruit we are judged by.

While I was listening to the heart discussion these precious women were having my heart was breaking for them.  I used to be one of them.  Some days I forget and still am…but after studying God’s Word I have come to the conclusion that we are asking the wrong question in our searching for meaning and God’s purpose for our lives.

Stay with me for a moment and just consider these thoughts if you will…

God tells us over and over in His Word that His grace is sufficient.  He doesn’t say I need your talents to bring people into my Kingdom so go and do.  I struggled for a long time with the question am I doing enough for God.

Well…losing my husband, and my brand new role as a missionary pastor’s wife, had me questioning at first what God would have for me to do for His Kingdom.  What could I possibly do for Him with the trauma we had been through, the long recovery time ahead from twelve fractures in my upper body, a serious head injury, two beautiful boys to care for on a daily basis who each had their own serious injuries to recover from, a precious and beautiful daughter by marriage to encourage and be there for, and living on an income of a disabled person…what can I possible do to help grow His Kingdom?

Here is the answer that came to my heart as I ask God this question so many times over the first seven months following our accident and the man I loved and needed moving to his eternal reward in our home in heaven…

There is only one thing I need to do and that is this…be obedient to His calling in my heart. 

What are we called to do anyway? 

I am beginning to realize more and more every day that it isn’t about WHAT we are called to do as much as it is WHO we are called to BE and who we are called to LOVE.

When the reality of that statement began to open in my mind and heart a new awe and freedom came with it.  I am not limited by my abilities, skills or talents.  I am not limited to the limitations I put on myself or the world puts on me.  My eyes were on the wrong person…it isn’t about me at all.  It is all about HIM.

It is God that transforms my heart and life.  It is God that transforms my thinking and my words.  It is God who works through my weakness in an amazing and more powerful way than I could ever do using my talents…key being “I could do”.  It is Him that overcomes my fears and all of my sins to become WHO He calls me to BE.

It is Him working in me that reaches people for Him.  But in order for anything to happen…I must first let Him lead me…be obedient.

So the question is posed…how do we know if we are being obedient to His calling?  How do we know if we are being WHO He is calling us to be?

Some would say that all the evidence lies in how many people we are leading to Christ.

Here, I will share some of the Scriptures that God has used to minister and teach me through…

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3 NIV

You see, I don’t think we are the first people to ever struggle with this question.  The Corinthians and so many others in the time of Jesus and his disciples and apostles’ ministries seemed to have a similar struggle which Paul addressed with the Corinthians in this letter.  If all we are focused on is the gifts we have and what we are doing we have gotten completely off track…at least according to this Scripture.

Each of these verses ends the same way…but do not have love, I am nothing”.

Paul knew he needed to make it clear.  He didn’t just leave them there.  He told them exactly what it meant to love…

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV

Oh wow.  Can you imagine the reaction of the church leaders when they read this letter?

I know that for me it was very convicting.

Sometimes it is easy to get so caught up in what we are “doing” for God that we stop focusing on the person God wants us to be.  People who love.

Paul didn’t let it go there though.  LOL  The next verses can be very convicting as well…

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 NIV

Here is what I am realizing more and more and what this passage said to me in my life at this time in my life…

There will be times when we can’t use our gifts anymore.  It will all pass away at some point. I love verse ten so much…

10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 1 Corinthians 13: 10 NIV

What we do in ministries (by this I mean all the programs, the activities, the doing by our own strength) is temporary and only part of the picture.  Completeness can only come through total surrender to Christ.

I have a confession…I didn’t have a very good understanding of what it meant to surrender before the accident last July.  In the moments after I knew my husband was dying and I was going to live I felt God’s presence in a way that was beyond what I had ever experienced before.  It was in those moments that I knew I couldn’t do anything without Him.  I couldn’t mother my kids with out Him.  I couldn’t serve Him without Him.  Even more than that I couldn’t SURVIVE without Him.  I needed Him more completely than I had ever realized before and it was in those moments that I gave myself completely over to His Will for my life…whatever that might end up looking like.

It was in those moments I experience freedom beyond any I had ever felt before.  With completely surrendering absolutely everything…and I mean everything.  I didn’t know if my youngest child was alive or not…I couldn’t hear him. I could only hear Josh.  My spirit cried out to God and I told Him that I totally trusted Him with all of it.  I trusted Him knowing that my husband had just gone home to heaven.  I trusted Him even if my baby was in heaven too.  And no matter what happened to me, I would trust Him more fully than I ever had before.  Do you know why?

I trusted Him because I knew he was completely worthy of my trust.  I trusted Him because no matter what happened, I knew He would never, ever leave me or forsake me.  I knew that He would take care of me and lead me in and through everything…all I had to do was love Him and LET Him lead me and direct my path (obey).  And in doing that I was filled with immeasurable peace and total confidence.  I realized in that moment, that God was all I needed.  I was wrapped in a cocoon of His love.

I need thee

It was the most amazing experience.  I no longer needed to worry about what I had to do or needed to do.  I knew all I needed to know.  I just needed God and He would take care of all the rest.

I still grieved and am still working through some of the pain of the loss.  But I am in awe of what God is doing in my heart and my mind and my life now that I realize all I need is Him.  You see, the end of the verse about love says that “Love never fails”.  It is impossible for us to be perfect…it is only God who loves completely and perfectly.  And I am realizing more and more that it is in immersing myself in His love and His Word that a transformation is taking place in my life.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.1 John 4:8 NIV

God is loving me every day and teaching me how to love…but the amazing thing is that it isn’t by anything I am doing.  It is the work He is doing in me.  There is a lot of work God is still doing in my life but something that I used to have as a list of goals has become something more powerful to me.  Again, nothing that happens because of our own work but the transforming work of God in our hearts and lives through our obedience to his call for us to LOVE. When we look at our lives, or I look at my life, to see if my faith is bearing fruit I go to this passage…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26 NIV

When I read this I don’t see anything telling us that the fruit our lives bear is converts to God’s Kingdom.  It is more of internal change.  It is in crucifying our own selfish desires and passions that we die to ourselves and then it is Christ who lives in us.  And God is helping me to understand that the meaning in verse twenty-four is all about completely surrendering our own will, passions and desires and asking God to give us His in exchange…living by the Spirit.

When it is Christ who lives in us…the fruit is obvious to those around us.  And when others see the fruit of the transforming work of God they will want it…after all, as human beings we all want to be loved…and isn’t that what love was described as in the passage in 1 Corinthians?

It is God’s love pouring out through us as He transforms our weaknesses into His fruit!  And as He does that people will want to know what happened to us?  Where did we get this amazing fruit?  And it is then that our total love and passion for the ONE who loves us and is transforming us and filling us and then HE brings the people we meet into His Kingdom working through our lives, our story, our loving them.

Whew.  Isn’t that incredible?

Bringing or leading someone to Christ isn’t about memorizing a script or steps it is about sharing the amazing love God has for us, how He has changed us and how much He loves them!

It isn’t by MY works that someone else will be saved…it is by God’s Work and God’s Grace so that none of us may boast.

When we share that love the Holy Spirit may be planting a seed, watering a seed, weeding a tender shoot, or He may work through us to harvest. But it is all His doing…all we are called to do is surrender to His life and heart transforming Love and He will do the rest.

I pray you have been encouraged through my words here.  God is still working on and in me.  Every day I struggle and need to call out to Him to help me and to surrender myself again…but God is always faithful.  He is at work…and I am so thankful and feel loved in ways that are indescribable…not because I am worthy…because I am not…it is because of His love and grace and forgiveness.

This wasn’t what I planned to write about tonight, it just flowed onto the screen.  I pray it ministers to your heart and draws you closer to our Savior, Jesus the Christ.

What is it we are called to do?  The teachers of Jesus’ day asked Him the same question and the answer hasn’t changed…

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 NIV

Leaning on His Grace,

Mary Joy

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

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