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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Call to Action

How do we know when we're being called to action?

I'm a daydreamer. Maybe even a pipe dreamer if you'll excuse the expression. You know, I'm often looking for the radical response or action, not the conventional one.

This is radical:

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? (Luke 15: 4)

The way it is phrased, "What man of you...?" sounds like the idea is to be taken as common knowledge, common expectation, not as something radical. But that's not what I consider common.

Indeed--which one of us really would leave behind 99% of what we are responsible for, whether that's sheep or people or job responsibilities or whatever you can come up with--to pursue a missing 1%? And not just leave behind, but leave "in the open country"? It sounds so reckless, so unprotected.

Even I would be more comfortable had Jesus said something like this: Be reasonable now. If one of your hundred sheep is missing, text a few friends and put it on Facebook. Then carefully secure the other ninety-nine inside the barn with a watchman on either side, and take food and drink for several days and an extra cellphone battery and a GPS and a team of friends and, after leaving solid instructions for delegating all your other tasks, and leaving a healthcare power of attorney and some cash and a credit card, then you can go on a search for a little while, as long as it doesn't interfere too much with your commitment to the ones back home. OK? Sound good? Off you go, then.

But no. None of that is here. It's primary. It's necessary. It's immediate. One is missing now, and that one is in immediate need, now, as well. The one is precious. Irreplaceable. There is an expectation of urgent involvement, and there is an expectation too of something else that doesn't come as naturally as it should: Trust.

Jesus has been telling parables and mixing that in with doing miracles and encouraging his followers not to be anxious (Chapter 12). I admit--I don't win any awards for not being anxious. Anxiety is something I've cultivated pretty well. It's because I can't hold on tightly enough, long enough, to trust. I've seen some improvement in the last year or two, with lots of attention and brain-training and reminders to trust being consciously put into place--and even with several failures to trust, I've been carried through losses and injuries and fears of losses and injuries to find that somehow, I'm still alive on the other side. Guess what: God is faithful.

It's in the context of that trust in a steadfast and sovereign God that Jesus speaks with the assumption that of course, we would be ready to act when called. Whatever it takes.

I'm rolling this around in my own life right now. Whatever it takes. I'm grappling in prayer for someone and waiting to hear whether prayer alone is what I am called to, or action. What is the course that will result in more joy in heaven? Am I to be passive here, or active? Do I trust enough to do whatever it takes? I love enough, yes. But do I trust enough?

Pray for me, readers? Pray for the ability to discern a calling. Pray for God himself to set right, to seek and find, to be found. But pray also for my openness to be used by him, if that is how he chooses to work.

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