My Dear Ones,
Have you ever felt called by God for some kind of service? We are all called by God to do something, and once we’ve followed God’s call and accomplished whatever it was, we are
called for something else. How have you responded? How do you respond today?
Every now and then, someone does respond in a radical and unexpected way. I was reading a story that Dr. Fred Craddock tells of a medical student who heard the call and made a radical response. A young woman came to him after hearing his sermon he preached that Sunday morning. She had decided to leave medical school and go to work among migrant workers in the Rio Grande Valley. Dr. Craddock did not manipulate her unexpected response. Instead, they talked for a long time about the meaning of her decision. Her parents were, understandably, furious with the new direction her life had taken. Like those fishermen whom Jesus called, she heard the call and she stayed with it.
And there have been others. People in the western tradition have long known about Francis of Assisi. He turned from a life of luxury to one of voluntary poverty with the intention of sharing his possessions with the poor. He became an example to his fellow townspeople of the biblical assurance that God can provide.
Likewise, Elizabeth Gurney Fry who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, exemplified an emphasis on living by Jesus’ example. In addition to raising a large family, this wife of a wealthy London merchant single-handedly initiated, and caused the implementation of, efforts to reform the prison system in England. These reforms spread throughout the continent even during her lifetime.
Similarly, in the United States, Dorothea Lynde Dix in the 19th century spearheaded the movement for the establishment of hospitals for the mentally ill, who were, at the time, being held in prisons. These people have admonished us to see Christ in our neighbors and to serve all who are in need. In these people and in many others, we see an example of people “leaving their nets” to follow.
One business person sold his automobile dealer-ship in order to attend a theological seminary in preparation for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. His wife said, “My husband came home one day and said, ‘You will be very surprised at what I am about to say, but I want to sell the business and go into the ministry’!” Within a few days, the business had been sold, and the family began tramping along another path. “We have never been hap-pier,” said his wife. There was, for this family, a call and a response. Life, for them, has been reoriented…
Where does this leave us? If others have heard the call and have responded in a radical way, then shouldn’t we all do the same? That’s a question only you can answer. It has to be answered by each of us as we experience God’s call in our lives. How one hears the call and responds to it is a matter of personal decision.
I would encourage all of you to tune in to God, identify your gifts from the Spirit, and discern God’s call to you. As a pastor, one of my callings is to help you find your calling. So, let’s talk sometime!
Blessings to you all,