Wednesday, May 13, 2020

God Calls, Prepares, And Then Sends

"Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him."  - Matthew 4:19-20

God never sends without preparation. He never prepares apart from His calling. Each sending builds upon the previous. Sometimes Christians get ahead of themselves. They don’t wait for the call or they don’t wait for the preparation ― they just go. It is a mistake to try to do something for God without God. Acting solely in the power of your flesh is a mistake. If you do, you have underestimated the reality of the powers of the air and principalities at work around you.

My last job in the Army required that I review all the messages that came to our unit. On one particular day I read a message that announced a new early separation program. The Army was downsizing after the Gulf War. It was then that I heard a voice. It was not an audible voice, more like an impression, but not. What I heard was, “You are sacrificing your family for success in the Army. Choose your family and leave the Army.” I had 17 ½ years in the Army. 2 ½ years away from retirement. Who would do that? Yet, I knew it was God and I knew what I must do. I spoke to Martie and shared with her what I believed God was saying to me. She replied “I agree. I believe we should leave the Army, too.” To bring this into context, I was up for a promotion to Lt. Colonel and was already identified to go to U.S. Space Command to serve in a Lt. Colonel position, a Joint assignment. I was on my way, succeeding, as far as the Army and the world were concerned. But I was failing as far as God was concerned. Both Martie and I have learned how important it is that in whatever we did as husband and wife we must be in spiritual agreement.

Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” ― Amos 3:3

We have committed to be willing to leave our old life behind and follow Him wherever He leads. I used to be an Army Officer. I used to be a helicopter pilot. I used to be an Operations Research and Systems Engineer. I used to be a lot of things. Now I am something of greater worth, a dedicated servant of Jesus Christ. We don't know where the Lord will lead us in the days ahead. We never expected to be where we are now or where He has sent us in the past, but we do know that we are where God wants us to be today, doing what He wants us to do …… now.

Following God’s call will always require you to abandon something. What are some aspects of your life that God’s call might require you to lay aside? Our old nature wants to protect itself and to indulge itself.  Sacrifice requires denial of self and abandoning worldly desires. (Matthew 16:24) Even a cursory reading of the Bible exposes the nature of the heart of people, which does not change, and reveals the will of God. 

I was succeeding in the world. I was the envy of many who loved the same things. But what I valued changed.  What would had to change in my life to make a radical decision to leave the Army 2 years be-fore retirement? I had to see that there was something of greater value to give up what I loved and had been pursuing. Discontentment happens when there is a spiritual stirring and what once brought you joy becomes drudgery.  Think about how God might use that as part of your preparation to go? Perhaps you have experienced holy discontentment.  Routine and habits bring comfort. If you are settled, you might not want to change things. How do you know it is God? It requires spiritual discernment to know when it is God and when it is just life.

Preparation to follow God’s call is not always pleasant and the reason something is happening is not always clear when it happens. If you live your new life depending upon pleasant circumstances to be the proof that you are in the center of God’ will, you are in for a disappointment and are sure to be disillusioned.   

Consider how God prepared Joseph for His purpose. On the face of it, Joseph traveled a strange and difficult journey for someone for whom God had a purpose. God gifted Joseph with discernment and wisdom. Recall that Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery because they were jealous of him. He rose to prominence as a slave only to be falsely accused and thrown into prison. He again rose into prominence as a prisoner and was called to Pharaoh’s court. He rose into prominence once again and at that point, fulfilled his purpose. When he did finally face his brothers, this is what he said to them.

Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” ― Genesis 50:19-20

While serving in in the midst of the devastation brought on by Hurricane Katrina, a volunteer asked me, “Do you like being in Mississippi?”  I thought for a moment and answered, “There is nothing better than being in the center of God’s will. Geography has nothing to do with it. I love being in Mississippi!” Difficult circumstances are not the test for God wanting you to do something else.  Don’t use circumstances as the only measure for God wanting you to change.  You might be in the difficult circumstances to be a light in the midst of a dark situation.  The darker the night – the brighter the light.

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