Spirit & Truth # 248
“Consider Your Call”
By Greg Smith
|Ezra the Priest Reads the Books of the Law|
It has been said that Christians without goals are a little like Alice in the fairy tale Alice in Wonderland. In a conversation between her and the Cheshire Cat, Alice asked, "Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?" "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the cat. "I don't much care where," said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the cat.[i] When a Christian has no idea where they’re trying to go in life, then it doesn’t matter which way they go. But God has a plan for you, and understanding your purpose is the key to knowing how to get there.
Ezra knew his purpose as he gathered God’s people to leave Babylon and return to Jerusalem. He was going to restore true worship in a rebuilt temple. He had all the money and tools he needed for the task. One thing he lacked: people to serve. Ezra writes, “When I checked among the people and the priests, I found no Levites there.”[ii] So he sent a delegation to the local Levite seminary and asked the school’s president to send him some students who would be willing to serve. In the end, out of the six or seven thousand people who went with Ezra to restore worship in the temple, only twenty were qualified Levites. Ezra must have been wishing that more had answered God’s call.
Today, most Christian denominations in America are experiencing a pastor shortage. One pastor within my own denomination writes: “Nearly half our senior pastors are entering into the last 10 year of their ministry before retirement, and if the high stress of pastoring (and the normal life expectancy of Americans about 77) holds constant then about 25% of our current pastor will be in heaven in 2020. Over half of pastors are in their late 50 and 25% are in the late 60s. Most will either retire or “go on to be with the Lord” over the next ten years.”[iii]
God needs more people who will answer His call to Christian service. We talk about God calling people like Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and the disciples. We know that God calls pastors to ministry. But every believer has a call from God. Whether you’ve discerned it yet or not, God has called you to serve Him in one way or another. It might be in vocational Christian service, or it may be in the secular world. God may lead you to stay exactly where you are, and to continue doing what you’ve been doing, but to change your focus and do if for Him instead of for yourself.
Discerning your call means listening to God’s still, small voice. God may speak to you in the quiet of your prayer time, or your Bible’s well-worn pages. You may hear His voice through the lips of friends and neighbors who share godly counsel, or through the Sunday sermon, or on Christian radio. Perhaps nature itself will show you something you need to know from God, or situations will play themselves out in such a way that God’s purposes become clear. However God’s call comes, I hope you will listen with your heart. Consider your call. Find your purpose. Trust God to bring it about.