Called, Led, and Done
“There are three ways God calls individuals into ministry—by ‘original conviction’, as in the case of the prophet Isaiah; ‘by association’, as in the case of Elisha’s relationship with Elijah; and by ‘direct confrontation’, as in the case of Saul/Paul on the Damascus road.” These were the sage and seminal words of the late Dr. E. E. Cleveland, world-renowned evangelist and my Evangelism professor while attending Oakwood College (now University). His profound yet succinct insight regarding “the call” to ministry resonated within my spirit and compelled me to reflect upon the authenticity of my own call.
While sitting in church one Sabbath listening to a guest speaker deliver a powerful word, I suddenly realized that all the sounds of worship had been mysteriously muted. As I surveyed the sanctuary, I could see that the congregants were still responding enthusiastically to the preached word; however, all I could hear was an inexplicable silence. For some reason, instead of feeling panicked, I felt a sense of peace; for in the midst of that transcendent moment I heard a voice calmly say, “That’s what I want you to do!”, as my attention was again riveted on the preacher. Then, as if someone were controlling an unseen mixing board, the sounds of worship began to slowly increase until they returned to their original volume.
Sometime after church, I went to my mom and resolutely declared that I was going to be a preacher one day. Did I mention that I was only seven years old at the time? Imagine having the luxury of growing up already knowing your purpose in life—already knowing your calling. However, in spite of my childhood epiphany regarding ministry, I confess that there have been times when I’ve deviated from my “original conviction” and sought to go my own way or do my own thing. Fear, failure, doubt, discouragement, feelings of inadequacy, lack of faith, personal problems, other people—have all played a role in trying to subvert my call at one time or another.
Perhaps God knew that the call alone might not be enough to keep us on course, so He uttered this reassurance when He called Joshua to lead Israel into the Promise Land: “Be strong and courageous, because I will be right beside you. Now is the time to lead the children into the land I promised to give them…. Be strong and courageous. Listen to Me and keep My commandments and laws that Moses gave you. Don’t turn to the left or to the right, and I will help you to succeed in whatever you do…. What have I told you to do? I have told you to be strong and full of courage. Don’t be afraid. Don’t become discouraged or give up, because you don’t have to do all this alone. The Lord your God will be with you every step of the way.” Joshua 1:6, 7, 9 (The Clear Word Paraphrase).
Notice that God admonishes Joshua to “be strong and courageous” three times. What did He mean by that? The Hebrew suggests the context of that phrase to mean ‘remaining firm by encouraging yourself.’ Sometimes in the absence of evidence or others, you may have to be strong enough and resilient enough to believe you’re in God’s will, even when circumstances won’t necessarily appear so. Abraham certainly had to have that assurance while being exercised by unbelievable circumstances and a myriad of emotions on Moriah’s lofty summit.
Also, whenever God mentions something three times, it means that it’s of the utmost importance that we listen; that He’s emphatic about whatever He’s said; and that whatever He’s said has already been divinely confirmed and established. It’s as if each member of the Trinity wanted to reassure Joshua that “you will be strong, you will be courageous, and you will succeed; because I will personally and collectively see to it.” In fact, one rendering of the Hebrew name, “Jehovah-Jireh” is, “God sees, and will see to it!”
What an amazing thought! Despite our fears and failures, defects and detours, setups and setbacks, mistakes and missteps—it’s that unwavering assurance that God will accomplish His purpose with us and lead us back to center if we falter or err. He’ll do whatever’s necessary to see that His will is done, if only we’d stop obsessing about our past shortcomings and focus instead on our precious possibilities.
The inspired lyrics by Christian singer-songwriter, Babbie Mason say, “All things work for our good, though sometimes we don’t see how they could; struggles that break our hearts in two, sometimes blind us to the truth; Our Father knows what’s best for us, His ways are not our own; so when your pathway grows dim, and you just don’t see Him, remember you’re never alone; God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind; so when you don’t understand, when [you] don’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His Heart!”
Never forget that God loves you; that He cares about you; and that you matter to Him. He’s called you to fulfill a special purpose despite how unworthy or ill-equipped you may feel. He wants to lead you as you walk in His divine will, and promises never to leave you, nor forsake you. And He’s committed to seeing that His will is done through you, even if you don’t know how He’ll do it.
So, what’s God calling you to do? Will you allow Him to lead your life in whatever way He’s planned? Are you strong and courageous enough to believe that his will can be done through you? Just In case your faith gets a little weak and you can’t see the end from the beginning, let me remind you that God sees, and He’ll see to it. In other words, as the young people often say, just chill—God’s got you!
—Eddie C. Polite serves as the Ministerial Director for the Southwest Region Conference. He and his wife, Donna, make their home in Desoto, TX. They have four adult children, four grandsons, and another grandchild on the way.
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