Often in the middle of conflict or when we’re discouraged, it’s so easy just to give up or go the easy way.
Greatness–both in and outside of the church–is often based on courage. As Christians in ministry, as God’s special chosen ones called for the ministry, we recognize that courage is God’s special endowment to His called ones.
It’s not that we don’t have fear when God calls. We do!!! Fortunately, we join the whole parade of apostles, prophets, and all God’s called ministers. Moses has fear…that’s why he gave numerous excuses to try to dissuade God from calling him. The disciples had fear…that’s why Jesus told them “don’t fear those who can kill the body but not the soul…”, and every other prophet of God also, I believe, had fear.
That’s why God’s calling always includes a two-fold blessing. When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations (Jer. 1:4ff), Jeremiah backed off–in fear–saying,
“I don’t know how to speak; I am only a child” (Jer. 1:6 NIV).
God recognized Jeremiah’s fear and dealt with it by giving his two-fold blessing.
The first blessing is that, in spite of Jeremiah’s excuses, sense of inadequacy, etc., God affirmed that Jeremiah–not anyone else–was God’s chosen agent for that place. “Do not say, ‘I’m only a child.’ You must go to everyone…and say what I command….” God told Jeremiah (Jer. 1:7 NIV).
The second part of the blessing was that God would guarantee His presence to Jeremiah. Immediately after giving Jeremiah his marching orders, God said, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you” (Jer. 1:8 NIV).
Jesus, immediately before His ascension, exemplified this two-fold calling.” Make disciples of all nations” was His call to the disciples. “I am with you always” was His promise to that small, helpless and fearful band of disciples (Mt. 28:18-20).
God’s calling to us is always two-fold. If it’s truly God’s calling, it is always greater than ourselves. And, if it’s truly God’s calling, it will generate great fear within us.
Like Jeremiah, sometimes we’d rather not be a “prophet to the nations.” Teaching the Sunday School pre-school class, or playing church janitor we think, would be just fine…and less risky than facing financial challenges, policy conflicts, petty arguments about this and dealing with antagonists who make life miserable at every turn.
God doesn’t call us to shrink or shy away from risks. The pain of ministry is evidence enough of that. But God knows the pain of ministry…even unto death on a cross. But a main difference between Christ’s pain in ministry and ours is that God forsook Jesus in His on the cross. God never forsakes us…though sometimes it really feels like it!
Whenever He gives us a calling, it’s a two-fold calling. His calling is always greater than ourselves. It’s always something we probably would not have chosen for ourselves. That’s what makes it a gracious calling–it’s undeserved, un-requested, but given in spite of ourselves. But that’s why God’s calling can make us so scared–it’s not based on what we’ve done, merited, or worked our way up to!
But, no matter how scared, hesitant, unmotivated or unwilling we might be, God gives us the promise of His presence. To cling to this promise of His presence–even during fear–is what Christian courage and ministry is all about.
Amelia Earhart wrote the following poem.,
Courage is the price that life exacts
for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not,
knows no release
From little things;
the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy
The sound of wings.
The two-fold calling of God–being called to something greater than ourselves and having the promise of God’s powerful, awesome presence in fulfilling His calling–gives us courage. It’s the only courage available which ultimately will be able to pay the price to grant peace in our ministries.
Unless we recognize the courage which God gives for our calling, we may never experience the peace that results from following through with the courage of God. Yes, as Amelia said, it will be lonely. Fear is, after all, a lonely thing. But God’s gracious presence overcomes all fear and gives us courage.
Claim God’s two-fold calling for you–with the courage of God!
“Others may be between a rock and a hard place. But God’s chosen ones are always between THE Rock and a hard place.”
From Joyce Meyer, The Roots of Rejection, p. 19
Thomas F. Fischer