Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Hard Call

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death. (Philippians 2:8)
What follows this paragraph is from Bo Giertz daily devotions To Live With Christ.  It reminds me how important it is to be following God's Call and not my own.  A "call" is the way in which God wants us to live our lives in the circumstances within which we as individuals are living.  There are calls to family life, to employment, to service and to spiritual community (church).  Calls come to everyone--pastor or not--and any call can and will be hard.  The important thing is to ascertain whether a certain call is for me (or for you) and not for someone else.  We do that through through prayer, the assent of brothers and sisters in Christ, and the "opening of a door" or the granting of an opportunity to exercise that call.  The important thing is to make sure I'm not manufacturing my own call.  If it is to be blessed, the call must come from God.
    Life can be hard, so hard that you wonder how long you can stand it.  When Paul enumerates all of the disgusting things he had to endure, they fill up almost a whole column in our Bible (Second Corinthians 11). And he says in Philippians 2 (see especially verse 17) that he expects his blood will finally be poured out in a sacrificial cup.
    Just as the priest in the temple in Jerusalem emptied his cup with the red wine at the Lord's altar and let it run out over the stones, so does Paul expect that one day his blood will run out and be absorbed by the earth, as it did when he was beheaded a few years later. 
    Yet he says that he 's glad.  Since he was called by the Lord Jesus, his life had been a sacrificial ministry, one huge offering of thanksgiving.  Everything was laid on God's altar, the grief as well as the joy.  He even had to bring forth the Philippians faith as a sacrifice...
    Paul was able to live with all of his horrors and even to be joyful in the middle of suffering because he learned to be as Jesus was.  Christ was made destitute and poor and suffered for our sake, and He was obedient unto death; to the bitter end.
    Paul, therefore, says we also should be obedient and wish only that what happens to us is God's will.  God directs our lives, not us...
   ... "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you" (Psalm 55:22).

You know my burden, Lord. You've already carried it. You carried my weaknesses and took my suffering upon yourself.  My sin became Yours.  You were tempted in everything and know how hard it can be.  Therefore I come to You with everything, even things that no one understands.  You--who were always obedient unto death--help me take every day from Your hand, even the most difficult ones, right up until the last day comes.

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