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What Missing “My Calling” Taught Me

Written By Crystal Brockington, USA

She had lost the baby.

When I heard that she was expecting, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe that this woman—whom God had revealed to me a few months prior that she would conceive this year—was already pregnant! I squealed with excitement and literally jumped up and down. I couldn’t wait to rub her belly and watch her wear motherhood like a crown.

But in the midst of our celebration, I felt it—the unmistakable signal from heaven that God wanted me to do something. For me, it felt like a sudden intense heat inside my body. Sometimes, it can also feel like the moment a roller coaster drops, or as though I’ve just eaten three Thanksgiving dinners.

In this case, the feeling was accompanied by a really strong desire to pray, along with the certainty that something was not right. Like so many times before, I could feel the prayer rising from deep, deep inside of me. If I had opened my mouth, the words would have fallen out without me even having to think about them.

But I held them in.

I didn’t want to make a scene and I didn’t want to seem dramatic. I told myself that I could pray for Sara’s* pregnancy longer and better in my private time with God. I told myself that I was imagining the fullness and the heat in my stomach, that the prayer which was sitting in my throat like acid reflux was just a trick my mind was playing.

But experience had taught me better. By this night, I knew that I could not ignore God when He asks me to interrupt normal life and pray for people. Sometimes, He tells me things about people and instructs me to tell them. Most times, I have no idea what I am going to say or what I am going to pray until I hear the words coming out of my mouth.

I remained speechless, still clutching Sara’s arms and looking beyond her shoulders long enough for her expression to drop.

“What?” she asked.
“Nothing,” I lied.
I asked how far along she was.
She responded.
It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me as I heard a voice from above say, “She is going to lose the baby.”
The urge to pray got stronger. I still chose not to do it.
My expression dropped. I shook my head. I hugged her and said congratulations.

I don’t know for certain whether my prayer would have changed this tragic situation. What I do know is that in that moment, I missed an opportunity to walk in my calling. Sounds dramatic, but it’s true. Our culture may have over-complicated “calling” to mean some pinnacle of our lives or something to be attained, but I am speaking of calling in its simplest definition—a strong urge towards a particular way of life.

In that moment, when I fought against the urging of the Holy Spirit to lead my friends in prayer for Sara’s pregnancy, I knew I was missing an opportunity to walk in alignment with the Holy Spirit; I was going against the strong urge to obey God.

We all have the same calling.

Although our lives and our individual purposes differ, at the core we are all called to the same thing: obedience to God (James 2:14-26; John 14:23-24). This truth is the true measure of success in our lives.

Every believer is called to this obedience for the sake of furthering the kingdom of God. We have all been commanded to love those around us (Luke 10:29-37; Matt 22:39), to set an example with our lives, and to make disciples in the process. We are called to crucify our flesh daily by laying aside every desire that hinders our devotion to Christ and His Kingdom.

We are called to be salt and light in the very places that we are now. We don’t need to wait for permission or a sermon to remind us to live for Christ and His kingdom. We simply need to respond with obedience to what the Lord is saying. For me, this realization has been quite the journey, and as you can gather from the story above, it is one that I am still on.

However, I don’t always get things right in my pursuit of the selfless obedience. Still, God lovingly, graciously and mercifully restores me when I fail and strengthens me to keep trying.

Your calling is now and later and even after that.

In Christ, we are free to run the race that God has set before each of us. We are free to grow, learn, and to be useful within the Kingdom at every stage of our development. What that looks like is obedience, regardless of the life stage we are at. We cannot put off being salt and light today as we wait to be called tomorrow.

As Christians, we are not to measure success by how much popularity or profit we attain, but by how much we accomplish our purpose: to hear what God says and do what He commands at every stage of our lives. This is the height of our calling.

Consider Noah. The humble man who found favor in the eyes of the Lord was called to be the man from whom all the inhabitants of the earth would spring. Only he and those who were connected to him were spared the judgment of God. Noah’s calling was great, but it was also realized progressively. When he was living his life righteously, he had no idea that God was going to instruct him to build an ark in the middle of the desert. He was simply doing what he could to honor God. Then, when the instructions were released to him, Noah labored faithfully in his old age to construct the boat.

Noah walked out that calling his entire life, by living in a way that honored God and by following specific instructions. We must do the same.

Bringing God glory isn’t always glamorous.

Christian culture today has a somewhat romantic view of what it means to be called by God. The phrase churns up images of powerful ministries and reaching the unreached people groups. Not everyone’s manifestation of the Great Commission looks like this, however.

Being the Church extends far beyond formal services and preaching engagements. We are all called to partake in ministry, but not all of us can be employed by the church. Some of us are called to be accountants, to bring Biblical wisdom to the business sectors of society. Others are called to bring encouragement to the lost or hurting as they bag their groceries at the local supermarket. Some others are called to teach, and to fervently pray for generations of children as they pass through our classrooms year after year.

At this point in my life, I am called to write and to pray. I am called to encourage those around me who seem downcast. I am called to say whatever God tells me to say to whomever He sends me. It is an unglamorous but meaningful time when I yield to His Spirit and, moment by moment, walk the path that He is setting before me.

Yes, some callings are more glamorous by the world’s standards, but none are higher or lower by God’s standards. Whether a pastor shepherding in a mega-church or a mother shepherding her children and the local Girl Scout troop, we will all stand before the Lord and have our works judged one day. I don’t know about you, but from today on, I want to build only things that can withstand the testing of God. This means taking actions that are motivated by my love for God and a desire to bring glory to His name—and not simply to make a name for myself.

Today, we can aim for victory tomorrow by wholeheartedly applying ourselves to the situations and opportunities that the Lord has set us in now. We can choose obedience over pride. We can lay down the idols that we erect in our hearts when we strive for higher callings by choosing the highest calling in every moment: obedience.

 

*Not her real name

ODJ: hard questions

One Saturday afternoon, a group of teenagers gathered in a cafeteria to ask one another some hard questions based on Philippians 2:3-4. Some of the difficult queries included: On a scale of 1 to 10, how selfish are you? How often do you take an interest in others too? Would someone describe you as humble or proud? Why?

As I sat and listened intently, it was encouraging to hear group members answering the questions as honestly as possible. They noticed that Philippians 2:3-4 didn’t contain suggestions; they were imperatives: “Don’t be selfish.” “Don’t try to impress others.” “Be humble.” “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

The group agreed that it’s difficult to live out these commands. It’s easy to acknowledge our shortcomings, but it is hard to change, or—for that matter—desire to change. As one teen uttered, “Selfishness is in my blood.”

The desire to put off our sin nature and put on Jesus’ nature can only come from one source—God Himself. The apostle Paul posed these questions: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit?” (2:1). To paraphrase, Paul asked: Are you experiencing the wonder of being God’s child? Are your hearts being comforted by His love? Are you experiencing the Spirit’s help? If yes, then obey God’s commands.

And Philippians 2:2-4 is a great reminder for us every day: “Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish.”

Yes, God is the reason for us to change, and only He can change us.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day-plan: Joshua 3:1-17

February 29, 2016 

READ: Philippians 2:1-4 


Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose (v.2).  

One Saturday afternoon, a group of teenagers gathered in a cafeteria to ask one another some hard questions based on Philippians 2:3-4. Some of the difficult queries included: On a scale of 1 to 10, how selfish are you? How often do you take an interest in others too? Would someone describe you as humble or proud? Why?

As I sat and listened intently, it was encouraging to hear group members answering the questions as honestly as possible. They noticed that Philippians 2:3-4 didn’t contain suggestions; they were imperatives: “Don’t be selfish.” “Don’t try to impress others.” “Be humble.” “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

The group agreed that it’s difficult to live out these commands. It’s easy to acknowledge our shortcomings, but it is hard to change, or—for that matter—desire to change. As one teen uttered, “Selfishness is in my blood.”

The desire to put off our sin nature and put on Jesus’ nature can only come from one source—God Himself. The apostle Paul posed these questions: “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit?” (2:1). To paraphrase, Paul asked: Are you experiencing the wonder of being God’s child? Are your hearts being comforted by His love? Are you experiencing the Spirit’s help? If yes, then obey God’s commands.

And Philippians 2:2-4 is a great reminder for us every day: “Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish.”

Yes, God is the reason for us to change, and only He can change us.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day-plan: Joshua 3:1-17

MORE
Read Romans 5:1-7 to help you reflect on the encouragement from belonging to God, the comfort from His love, and the fellowship of His Spirit. 
NEXT
How will remembering the privilege of belonging to God motivate you toward obedience and change today? Where is He asking you to grow as a believer in Jesus? 

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ODB: Undigested Knowledge

In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant.

Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.”

At the temple one day, Jesus encountered people who thought they had all the right answers. They were proudly proclaiming their status as Abraham’s descendants yet refused to believe in God’s Son.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did” (John 8:39). And what was that? Abraham “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Still, Jesus’ hearers refused to believe. “The only Father we have is God himself,” they said (John 8:41). Jesus replied, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (v. 47).

Piper recalls how things “fell apart” for him before he “encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way.” When we allow God’s truth to transform our lives, we gain much more than the right answer. We introduce the world to Jesus.

— Tim Gustafson

February 12, 2016 

READ: John 8:39-47 

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

John 8:31

 

In his book on language, British diplomat Lancelot Oliphant (1881–1965) observed that many students give correct answers on tests but fail to put those lessons into practice. “Such undigested knowledge is of little use,” declared Oliphant.

Author Barnabas Piper noticed a parallel in his own life: “I thought I was close to God because I knew all the answers,” he said, “but I had fooled myself into thinking that was the same as relationship with Jesus.”

At the temple one day, Jesus encountered people who thought they had all the right answers. They were proudly proclaiming their status as Abraham’s descendants yet refused to believe in God’s Son.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did” (John 8:39). And what was that? Abraham “believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Still, Jesus’ hearers refused to believe. “The only Father we have is God himself,” they said (John 8:41). Jesus replied, “Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (v. 47).

Piper recalls how things “fell apart” for him before he “encountered God’s grace and the person of Jesus in a profound way.” When we allow God’s truth to transform our lives, we gain much more than the right answer. We introduce the world to Jesus.

— Tim Gustafson

Father, thank You that You receive anyone who turns to You in faith.


Faith is not accepting the fact of God but of receiving the life of God.

 

ODB: The Birth of Christmas

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and then to shepherds with good news for the world (Luke 1:26-27; 2:10), was it good news to this teenage girl? Perhaps Mary was thinking: How do I explain my pregnancy to my family? Will my fiancé Joseph call off the betrothal? What will the townspeople say? Even if my life is spared, how will I survive as a mother all alone?

When Joseph learned about Mary’s pregnancy, he was troubled. He had three options. Go ahead with the marriage, divorce her publicly and allow her to be publicly scorned, or break off the engagement quietly. Joseph chose option three, but God intervened. He told Joseph in a dream, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20).

For Mary and Joseph, Christmas began with submitting themselves to God in spite of the unthinkable emotional challenges before them. They entrusted themselves to God and in doing so demonstrated for us the promise of 1 John 2:5: “If anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”

May God’s love fill our hearts this Christmas season—and every day—as we walk with Him.

— Albert Lee

December 6, 2015 

READ: Luke 1:26-38 

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Matthew 1:24

 

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and then to shepherds with good news for the world (Luke 1:26-27; 2:10), was it good news to this teenage girl? Perhaps Mary was thinking: How do I explain my pregnancy to my family? Will my fiancé Joseph call off the betrothal? What will the townspeople say? Even if my life is spared, how will I survive as a mother all alone?

When Joseph learned about Mary’s pregnancy, he was troubled. He had three options. Go ahead with the marriage, divorce her publicly and allow her to be publicly scorned, or break off the engagement quietly. Joseph chose option three, but God intervened. He told Joseph in a dream, “Do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:20).

For Mary and Joseph, Christmas began with submitting themselves to God in spite of the unthinkable emotional challenges before them. They entrusted themselves to God and in doing so demonstrated for us the promise of 1 John 2:5: “If anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”

May God’s love fill our hearts this Christmas season—and every day—as we walk with Him.

— Albert Lee

Fill my heart, Lord, with rejoicing at the gift of Your love and forgiveness found in Your Son Jesus.



Reflect on the wonder of Christmas by reading more about Mary and Joseph at