What does God want from me?
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
Some serious issues in the news this week
have raised some interesting discussions.
Last Friday a terrorist cell
plotting an assault against Southern Ontario targets
These terrorists feel a deep and passionate calling
To change the world to their way of thinking,
And going to extreme means
To carry out their calling.
How many of you are following the World Cup of Soccer?
Yea, Paraguay didn’t do so great in their opening game
But, there is one team that’s making a lot of headlines.
Trinity & Tobago is playing in their first ever World Cup…
Sweden was supposed to blow them away.
T&T is a small country of about a Million people…
And their national team players
Show up for practices on their bicycles.
They have no money,
No big organization and support infrastructure…
But they have Heart!
They have a profound calling to seize their moment in history.
Today we want to look at God’s call upon our lives.
The text that was read is the story of
Isaiah’s call and commissioning to preach.
Do you ever wonder what God wants from you?
Why are you here on this earth?
What is the meaning of your life?
How do you know what God wants you to do with your life?
This is one of the questions that comes up every year
in our Catechism classes.
And, as if these questions aren’t big enough…
some people timidly wonder
If God is calling them into ministry.
I know our young people are busy BBQing
And getting our lunch ready…
But, if I could get everyone’s attention for a while
I think the Word of the Lord is speaking to us today…
Let me ask you a personal question…
Have you ever wondered if God wants you
To become a pastor?
Or a counselor?
Or a missionary?
Or a caregiver at a nursing home?
Does God want you to touch other people’s lives
With the grace and love of Jesus?
Just thinking about that question
Can send chills up your spine.
And how do you know
If you’re perceiving a “real call” from God
And not just suffering from a case of too much
Pork and beans?
There’s a story of
A young farmer, standing in his field,
Observing an interesting cloud formation.
The clouds form the letters G, F, and C,
and he thinks:
God is calling me to “Go preach Christ!”
The farmer rushes to the deacons of his church
and insists that he has been called to preach.
They are, of course, respectful of his passion
And so they invite him to preach the following Sunday.
They did not want to stand in the way
of a call from God.
That Sunday, the sermon was long, tedious,
And virtually incoherent.
It didn’t make sense at all.
When it finally came to an end,
the leaders and the whole congregation sat in stunned silence.
Finally, a wizened deacon mutters to the would-be preacher,
“Seems to me the clouds were saying ‘Go plant corn.’”
This wouldn’t be the first time
there’s been confusion about what it means
to be called into ministry.
The concept of a call
is a profound biblical idea.
There are many stories about calls to men and women
Who answered God’s call
And transformed their generation for God’s purposes.
A biblical call typically has some of the following elements:
First, in one way or another,
The calls all come from God.
God the Father called Abraham,
Moses, Isaiah, and Amos (to name a few).
Jesus called twelve men “to be with him,”
and then sent them out to disciple the nations.
The Holy Spirit called Saul and Barnabas and many others
to preach the word of God boldly,
and to do great things in the name of God.
No one in the Bible anointed himself or herself.
Secondly, the “call- stories” in the Bible
were quite unpredictable,
and the person who was called often protested God’s call.
Think of Moses,
“God, what are you thinking?
I am a stuttering fool who can’t speak!
And you want me to go to Pharao
And tell him to let my people go?”
And remember Jonah?
Oh yes, Jonah!
Running away to Niniveh
And getting swallowed up by whale.
And then there is Gideon…
who responded to God’s call by saying,
“How can I save Israel?
My clan is the weakest in Manasseh,
and I am the least in my family.”
And when we look at some of the others
We have to wonder…
“Why did God call David?
Why Simon Peter?
And, of all people, why Saul of Tarsus who confessed,
“I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man?”
When St. Francis was asked why God called him, he said,
“God picks the weakest, the smallest,
the meanest of men on the face of the earth,
and he uses them.”
Thirdly, a biblical call usually focus on a mind-boggling,
seemingly impossible task.
Noah was instructed to build a boat
On dry land.
Moses was called to lead God’s people out of Egypt,
And to write down on tablets of stone
The Ten Commandments of the Lord.
Isaiah was called to preach the coming destruction
And the message of a future hope and restoration
When the Messiah comes.
Paul was thrown off his horse on the way to Damascus,
To preach the Gospel to the Gentiles
And to become the greatest Missionary who ever lived.
All of these were impossible tasks!
But the call was so compelling
that it gave courage to the one called.
Another interesting aspect is that
each biblical call was unique.
No call seems like any other.
the expectations of the call:
were all custom made.
When God wants a word said or a people led,
he taps someone on the shoulder
and He makes it happen.
You may be thinking now,
“I wonder sometimes if God wants me
To go to Africa and save the children…
But, I have never seen a “burning bush”
(unless you call George Bush under fire from the press
A “burning Bush”).”
Sandra & Chris’ little boy reminds me
Of a story by William Willimon,
About the way that God marks us
For a special task in life.
"We've got this kid, first-year student, in the Chapel Choir.
I had mentioned something in a sermon
about how I believe that we are 'marked' by God for life,
for some good thing.
The student's mother happened to be
in the congregation that morning.
After the service, she came up to me
pushing her sheepish son toward me."
"This one's marked," she said.
"Nearly lost him during the first six weeks of his life.
They had him in Duke Hospital
putting the oxygen to him
as the little thing hung between life and death.
I prayed to God the whole time.
Told God that, if he lived,
I would dedicate him to God.
He's got a scar to this day on his foot
where they fed him those six weeks in the hospital.
Right on his heel.
I look upon that scar as God's mark.
When he was a little boy,
I'd point to that scar on his heel and say,
It's a sign that God's got plans for you.
You've been saved,
set apart by God.'
He's got the scar to prove it.
He's a gift."
You and I bear the scars of God’s markings in our lives.
They may not all be scars that we can touch with our hands
and see with our eyes –
but we have scars that shape our lives,
marks that tell the story
that God has an eye on us.
The key question is,
Do we recognize those marks
As God’s calling for a special task,
Or do we see it just as coincidence?
When God marks us and calls us,
do we know how to recognize God’s call
and respond to it in faith?
How do we as the church help young men and women
To recognize God’s call for their lives?
I am convinced,
That what the church and the world needs
more than anything else today
is better “voice recognition technology”.
If you’re into computers
You know about “voice recognition software”.
You speak a command to the computer,
And the computer carries it out
Without you ever touching the keyboard.
The church also needs “voice recognizers”,
“call detectors” and “talent scouts”…
“spiritual encouragers”, if you will…
People who are able to perceive and encourage
God’s call upon a person’s life.
The point is that God does indeed still speak
In a loud voice
As He did in the Old Testament…
We just have to get better at distinguishing
From all the other voices around us.
This week I received an email from Katie Goetz,
(Ewald’s cousin) with the story of her call to ministry.
She writes, “When I was in my teens I wanted to be a missionary. When I was in my twenties
I realized that this would not be possible
because of my limited eyesight.
In 1982 when I went on disability
I knew that I would have a lot of time
to do something good for others
so I decided to become a volunteer
for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
I volunteer for the Lions Eye Bank.
I package used eye glasses.
They are taken to developing countries
and handed out to individuals
who can’t afford to buy them.
I have packaged over 88,000 pairs of glasses in the last 10 years.
It is such a great feeling to know
that I am able to touch so many lives all over the world.
I will never meet any of these people
but I know that they are very happy to be able to see better
with the glasses that came from thousands of miles away.
I thank God that I am able to do His work.
When I pack the glasses
I pray for the people who donated the glasses
and for all those that make sure that they get to the needy.
I do not let my disability stand in the way.
I use it for God’s glory.”
When a person is called by God,
The call is usually confirmed by a community
That discerns the work of the Holy Spirit
In that person’s life –
As we saw in the story of the corn farmer.
One of the most delightful call-stories comes from the life
Of George W. Truett,
One of the greatest American preachers.
Young Truett was studying law and, occasionally,
Preaching for a congregation when there was no preacher.
One night at the congregational meeting,
An older man stood up and said,
“This church has a duty to perform,
And we have waited late and long to do it.”
I move therefore, that this church call to ordain
George W. Truett to the full time work
Of the Gospel ministry.”
This motion was made and seconded without consulting Truett.
Truett was thunderstruck.
He rose to his feet and said,
“You have me appalled,
You simply have me appalled.”
But one person after another got up and said,
“Brother George, we have a deep conviction
That you ought to be preaching.”
He begged them to hold off for six months.
“We won’t wait six hours.
We are called to do this thing now…
We dare not wait…
We must follow our convictions.”
“There I was, against a whole church,
Against a church profoundly moved.
There was not a dry eye in the house –
One of the supreme solemn hours in the churches life.
I was thrown into the stream,
And just had to swim.”
When God has a task that needs to be done in the world,
There is nothing that can stand in the way of His call.
As we hear these stories today,
May we search our hearts
And listen to the still small voice of the Spirit.
What does God want from you?