Spring retreat for RCCCCG (Asheboro, NC)
Saturday AM @ Mar 16, 2002
By DJ Chuang
Matthew 25:14-30 (Cf. Luke 19:11-27)
Explore: What do you want to do when you grow up? Who do you want to become? God still speaks to us in visions and dreams today, in our hearts as a small whisper.
Everyone that God creates also has a unique contribution. In Biblical language, that path is a calling, because God created us for the path, and He calls us to go forth. I have a calling. You have a calling. Everyone who is in Christ has a calling. And for those who have yet to trust in Christ, their calling is to trust in Christ. Because without Christ, they cannot hear the calling of the caller.
With all the technology and knowledge available today, people still do not have the answer to the age-old question of the meaning of life. Many people, Christians and non-Christians alike, donít have a clear sense of purpose in their life. Yes, Christians know theyíre supposed to attend church, read their Bible, pray, worship, serve, fellowship, evangelize. But what about career? What about marriage? What about investments? Does† God call us to do something specifically with our everyday lives?
Walker Percy wrote, ďYou can get all Aís and still flunk life.Ē You can learn all the right theology, obey Godís commands, have pure motives, but yet not recognize the call for the totality of your life. To hear the call of God and to follow it is the most freeing and empowering thing you can have for your life. It brings together the spiritual and the physical.
The passage in Matthew 25:14-30 is known as the parable of the talents. And in this text, we read that a man is going on a journey, he left his property to the servants to take care of it.
Jesus is the man on the journey, as He has gone away to be with God the Father. Heís gone to prepare a place for us. (John 14:2) And heís left his property to his servants. What heís left is all of the earth to mankind, to take care of and to watch over. Itís the same command that God gave to Adam in Genesis 2. He gives some basic instructions, then leaves it in good hands.
When God created you, He created you with everything you have. Your body shape, your personality, your gifts and talents, and your desires. God even created your idiosyncrasies.
You are precious in His sight, and there is no one else like you. This is something that is hard for many people to believe; that we are valuable and special, and we are fully accepted by God right now. I know itís been hard for me. Maybe it comes from my disposition, lack of confidence, timidity, and awkwardness. For the most part, Iím not a person who will try new things or learn new things. I will tend to shy away from doing things for fear of failure. Plus, itís easy for me to feel guilty and shame about the things I do or donít do.
When you recognize that God has created you uniquely, and you get connected to His lifeline, He begins to fill you up with His grace. Staying connected to Godís grace through prayer and spiritual disciplines, you begin to find the strength and motivation to do what you ought to do. You can join God in what He is doing in restoring the world.
What does God want me to do exactly? This question plagued me for a long time. I certainly wanted to please God, and I wanted obey Him, and I wanted to make sure I didnít do anything selfish. Being timid as I was, I waited for God to speak. I waited. And I waited. I went to seminary to learn more of Godís Word so I could find out. I worked in pastoral ministry for five years. Those were good years, but I was not clear on my calling.
Iíve realized only more recently that God doesnít prescribe exactly what Iím supposed to do. I have the freedom to choose what I want to do for Him by His strength. In the same way, you have the freedom to choose what to do with your life. You can choose which part of Godís kingdom youíd like to participate, and do it by Godís grace.
Your choice of participating in Godís purpose and work in this world is your calling. You can choose anything youíd like within the Kingdom of God. This is incredibly freeing. Godís calling is not an elusive thing that He hides from us until we reach some stage of spiritual maturity. God has created us, and his desires are in our hearts when we catch a vision of His kingdom purposes and stay connected to His grace.
ďThe call is the idea that God calls us to Himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we have, and everything we do is invested with a dynamism and a devotion because it is done as a response to His summons.Ē -- Os Guinness. From The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose in Your Life
Iíll take the next few minutes to look at this definition together. The call is an idea- it is different than a person, place, or thing, though there is a person involved, you; a place, where you are, and a thing, something that you create, manage, or take care of. It is an idea and it is potently powerful. Remember the famous line from the movie, A Bugís Life, where Hopper said, ďIdeas are a dangerous thing.Ē
The idea is that God calls you to Himself. God created you, and He calls you to Himself. He knows that you need to be connected to Him to have the grace and strength, the wisdom and discernment to make choices that would fulfill His purposes and fully satisfy your soul. This is the vital connection where the Spirit of God can fill you for your life in the here and now.
God calls you decisively, in such a way that it is comprehensive. Godís call for you covers everything you are, everything you have, and everything you do. Everyone, everything, and everywhere.
God calls you to be who you are. He accepts you completely. He made you to have certain strengths and weaknesses, and as you acknowledge them and live wisely using them, you are responding to His call.
God calls you to use everything you have. Develop your gifts and talents by the grace of God. He will give you the grace and strength when you trust Him with your life and you desire to live with God as your first love. All of your life experiences, the successes, failures, and even the hard times, will be used by God for His purpose. Draw from everything you have as you live life in light of Godís calling for you.
This calling is invested with a dynamism and devotion, meaning it has a passion and desire that comes from the very Spirit of God filling you as you are connected to the Creator God. The calling is a devotion, as your relationship with God deepens to be an intimate personal knowledge, when you commune with Him. This is a spiritual vitality.
This calling is such a passion to do what God has made you to be because it is a response to His summons. God created you, He accepts you, He empowers you, then you can do anything you want in His kingdom. And this passion doesnít run out, because you are being energized by the inexhaustible resources of the infinite God.
When you live life out of who you are, having a vital relationship with Him, Godís Spirit fills you, and you can do what you want to do. Your calling is simply to be who you are, and do what you want.
The reason this may be a new idea to many of us is two historical distortions. One school of thought said that a calling was so special that only those who were priests and nuns had a calling from God. The rest of the church only had normal acceptable lives.
Another school of thought said that a calling was for certain people to work in full-time Christian service.† This idea separated Christians into two groups: full-time workers and part-time workers. This implied that the really valuable and important work was Christian ministry and missions, and the less important work was temporal and temporary. So for people who donít have the call to Gospel ministry, they had to serve in the church as much as they can. After all, there are millions of people lost without eternity, they reasoned.
The better understanding of Godís grace is that each of us is created by God for all kinds of work. One type of work is not inherently better than another. Work is ordained of God, and all productive work is good work. God calls you to work with the best that you have, to do what you can do most uniquely and passionately, so that you give your 110 percent.
Or, let me say another way. Calling is more than the work we do, the money we make, the title we have, or the prestige of our type of work. Our primary calling as followers of Christ is to live by him, to him, and for him. Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him.
Letís go back to the parable of the talents. Jesus leaves the property in the hands of the servants to take care of. He gives talents to the servants. To some he gives more, to others he gives less. Whether you think you have ten talents, five talents, two talents, or one talent, use it to the glory of God. Thereís no place for comparison, and no place for pride. Work with what God gives you, and do it with joy, gladness, and thanksgiving.
The point here is this: God is not a micro-manager. You can choose to do what you want with what God has given you. He wants you to do something good, for He created you for good works. He wants you to do something you enjoy, because He gave you desires and passions. He gives you the freedom and the choice. And the wonderful thing about being in a free country is that we have the freedom to pursue Godís calling.
Illus: My own life search for Godís calling. Itís taken many years to realize that God accepts me, God gifted me uniquely, and God gives me the freedom to decide what to do. He gives me guidance and wisdom. He is with me. He helps me. Heís shaping me.
He is a gracious God. You canít go wrong in the kingdom of God. You might choose to do something that fails or doesnít work out. Thatís okay, itís not the end of the world. Godís grace will give you the strength and opportunity to do something else.
Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you.
You can live freely in Godís kingdom. Do what you are created to do, and donít worry about food or clothing. Be responsible and responsive to Godís calling, and God will provide for you.
Everyone has at least one talent. Some of you may think you have only a few talents. But if you bury your talent and do absolutely nothing, it shows that you are lazy and wicked. It shows that you donít understand his grace, and you donít know God.
The parable ends with the wicked lazy servant who did nothing with his talent. He did not respond Godís calling. He was paralyzed by fear and uncertainty rather than by grace and acceptance. He chose to be separate from God, and thatís exactly what he got: separation from God. Choose wisely.
2 Peter 1:10-11::
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Illus: (Apolo Anton Ohno) Chunky was already a talented world-class inline skater. Growing up with his single parent father in Seattle, he decided to try something new like speed skating after watching the 1994 Winter Olympics. He reluctantly went to train for his sport at Lake Placid.
Chunky hated Lake Placid at first because it was such a small town compared to Seattle. And he was pretty much angry about that situation. "I had to get up at 6 o'clock every morning and run. I had set times I had to be where. Ö I didn't know why I was there for the first month."
After a while, he decided to give it a try and started to enjoy it there. All he did was his schooling and training. He realized that he could be really great at his sport, winning the U.S. Short Track Championship in 1997. The Olympics was a dream within his reach.
However, Chunky wasn't able to get ready for the 1998 Winter Games. This disappointment made him wonder about the direction his life was going. So, his dad dropped him off to spend a week alone in this cabin that they often rented out. It was isolated with no phones and no TV. He thought about all that he had gone through during the year and where his path should go. It was during there that he realized his ability to skate was really a gift. He loved to skate and decided that if he takes that path, he'd "give it 110 percent."
Chunky described it this way: "There was one day, it was my third workout of the day, and I was running and it was just pouring... I had a hole in my shoe and I was getting a huge blister and I was so tired of training, so I stopped and sat on a rock on the side of the road. I was just sitting there. I think I realized that if I really desired to keep speed skating, I had to keep running. So I got back up and kept running. That week was definitely the hardest week ever. It was just so emotional for me."
From that point on, his whole career did a turn-around and became incredible. By 1999, he became the youngest American (at 17) to win the world cup. Just a month ago, Apolo won two medals in speedskating at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.† "At times in my life I've been led away from the good, led away from the bad. I think definitely I'm on the path that I was supposed to be."
Close: Life is short, play hard. Iíd add: live well. Respond to the calling of God for you.