When You’re Wondering if God has More for You
(Congratulations to Cheryl B of Lynden, Washington, who won last week’s giveaway of a little “trail magic.” An Amazon gift card is coming your way!)
There’s one question that children are asked by practically every adult in their orbit: What do you want to be when you grow up?
I may be the only adult I know in the second half of life who’s still trying to answer that question. Do any of you wonder whether God has more for you to do in whatever years remain on this side of eternity?
Physical maturity includes choosing a career, but spiritual maturity includes pursuing a calling. How do you know whether you are truly living yours out?
Yesterday morning I trudged up Lickstone Ridge behind our home – my daily cardio workout. Fall color in the Smokies peaks in mid-October. Trees are ablaze with fiery crimson, burnished gold, cerulean blue. The stunning autumnscape quieted my soul as I prayed my concerns: This friend’s health, that one’s recalcitrant child, another’s job search. Israel. Gaza.
And as I prayed, I asked God my recurrent question: Am I living out your present call on my life? I retired five years ago from a fulltime corporate job; that season is past. I’m active at church but no longer a fulltime pastor’s wife. For 30 + years I’ve loved serving nationally at women’s retreats, conferences, and outreach events, but now I’m tucked away in a new corner of the country where fewer invitations come by word-of-mouth recommendation.
I also just turned 70. Will anyone want a woman in the autumn of her life to teach their group or join their mission team? My tasks at a weekend event our church organized for community children included running games, scooping ice, baking dessert, and taking down tables. Necessary work and I was happy to do it.
I’ve wondered if my decades of service as a Christian communicator are mostly past-tense.
Rick Warren has written that the mark of spiritual maturity occurs when the believer “takes off the bib and puts on the apron.” As children we expect others to feed us, but as adult disciples we grow in maturity in order to feed others.
In a recent newsletter, my dear friend Barb Roose reminded her readers what Jesus said when he called his disciples:
Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me,
and I will show you how to fish for people.”
-Mark 1:17 NLT
“Jesus called. They responded,” Barb commented. “Jesus’ priority was for the disciples to follow Him. Later, when Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs, Mark 6:7 notes that Jesus called them to him, then he sent them out. The Greek word proskaleó for ‘Jesus called’ means that Jesus drew the disciples to Him first for relationship, then he sent them on assignment.”
Barb is spot on.
Consider the biblical stories of Samuel, Moses, Gideon. Jeremiah, Paul, Mary.
In each instance, the one God called into service had to first demonstrate receptivity to his voice (the initial call) before they responded to his promise to be with them. What’s most encouraging to me is that each one recognized their own inadequacy to fulfill the assignments given them without God’s enabling presence. It was only when they placed their complete dependency on God that they could carry out the unique calling placed on their lives.
Calling begins with an initial call which will never be withdrawn. It arises from our relationship with him, not the specific roles we assume in a lifetime of spiritual service.
Barb pointed this out in her thoughtful commentary on being called.
“Through grace, we’re called into relationship with God. Popular opinion is that calling is about roles or performance. Yes, people received assignments in the Bible as teachers, apostles, etc. Now, callings can lead to assignments from God, but an assignment isn’t and shouldn’t be confused with our calling to live as children of God. “
Preach it, sister!
It’s also not restricted by age. Abraham was 75 when God called him to leave his home and journey to an unknown place. He was 100 when Isaac, the child of promise, was born. Moses was 80 when he was called out of the wilderness to lead his people to freedom. Caleb was 85 when he spoke to his fellow Israelites to request an allotment of land (Joshua 14:10-11).
We’ve never too old to finish – or even start – the work God has for us.
As I walked Lickstone Ridge early yesterday morning, my spirit sensed his voice. Just do the next thing. Write to encourage others. Teach when you’re needed. Travel where I send you. You won’t miss my assignments if you continue to listen.
When I got back to our home on Peace Ridge, I had breakfast, listened to my morning devotional, completed that day’s Bible study. Turned on the computer.
To my great surprise, the first message was this: “Congratulations! You’ve been selected to join our vision team of women communicators who will take the gospel to Cuba.” (Looks like I’m heading to Havana in February!)
And then a second message completely out of the blue inviting me to teach next fall at a conference center in the Midwest where I’ve never served before. My great joy!
Friends, I’ll leave you today with the same words Barb Roose used to encourage me and many others:
“If you’re following Jesus and you’re serving God from the heart in any way, then you’re in the sweetest spot of where you are supposed to be until God moves you somewhere else.
" Enjoy that assignment. Celebrate joining God in His work. When others ask you what your calling is, you can say this: Jesus called me to follow him and right now, I’m exactly where God wants me to be.” Barb Roose
- Maggie Wallem Rowe