Sermon: “I will go, Lord!”
Based upon Scriptures: Exodus 4: 1-17
Prepared By Carl Schaefer
For September 4, 2011
God was speaking with the angels one day as they were trying to complete the list of invitations with the names of those souls coming to heaven that day. On the list so far was a priest from a small parish, a president of a large corporation, a construction worker, an attorney, a former mayor of a medium size city and a tennis player. God asked, “Well, is today’s list complete?” The angels looked at each other as were about to nod in agreement, when one piped-up and said, “I think there should be one more!” “One is missing – who might that be?” God asked, The angel replied, a little 7 year old boy who is terminally ill with cancer and is praying for a new body.” “Well then,” God said, “extend an invitation to him as well.”
Someone here this morning will feel God calling them – to do, or be, or cause something. It may start with a feeling, slight at first, but it will grow in intensity. It will be kind of an itch that will need to be scratched at some point. The invitation from God could be to do something remarkable – sort of out of your comfort zone, or something very simple, so simple that you will tend to dismiss it at first as inconsequential. You might even question if the invitation is from God – you may attempt to authenticate the invitation, but none he less, you will know based upon what you are asked to do.
The story about David Livingstone
After years of service in South Africa, the famous missionary Robert Moffat returned to Scotland to recruit helpers. When he arrived at the church one cold wintry night, he was dismayed that only a small group had come out to hear him. What bothered him even more was that the only people in attendance were ladies. Although he was grateful for their interest, he had hoped to challenge men. He had chosen as his text Proverbs 8:4, "Unto you, O men I call." In his discouragement he almost failed to notice one small boy in the loft pumping the bellows of the organ. Moffat felt frustrated as he gave the message, for he realized that very few women could be expected to undergo the rigorous life in undeveloped jungles. But God works in mysterious ways.
Although no one volunteered that evening, the young fellow assisting the organist was deeply moved by the challenge. As a result, he promised God he would follow in the footsteps of this pioneer missionary. And he remained true to his vow. When he grew up, he went and ministered to the unreached tribes of Africa. His name was David Livingstone! Moffat never ceased to wonder that his appeal which he had intended for men had stirred a young boy, who eventually became a mighty power of God.
There have been many such invitations in the Bible. The text today speaks about the call of Moses – who became a giant of the bible in the service of God, but who at first responded, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Sounds like the response of Jonah who in that book named after him in the first chapter where it states, “But Jonah ran away from the Lord.” As you know, he too, eventually went as the Lord called.
I ran away as well for quite a number of years. Then came corporate shakeup – the equivalence of Jonah’s whale experience, and I was debated the opportunity to attend seminary. I just couldn’t free myself of all the uncertainties that would accompany leaving the corporate environment. Then there was the plane ride to negotiate my last labor contract for ABB as head of its North American Industrial Relations Dept. when a voice next to me said, “Trust Me.” Just as plain and laud as if it came from the person in the seat next to me, but the seat was empty. I responded, “but I am not worthy of this call,” to which came the response, “this too shall pass.” I called my wife that night and said something like Moses or Jonah must have said, “I will go, Lord.” And, the rest is history as I stand before you today.
Then there was Abraham called by God to leave his home country of Uhr and go to the land of the Canannites. Jacob, who God tested, and then told him his new name would be Israel and would later be the father of Joseph who in turn God called to in his dreams. And then there was Joshua who God ordered to lead His people into the Promised land after the death of Moses. And even the woman prophetess, Deborah, who God called to defeat the army of Jabin, king of Canaan. And then there was: Gideon who the Lord commanded, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out the Midian’s hand!” and Samuel, and David, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, Zechariah and on and on….all the way to Peter and Paul and you and me….
Are you listening…..?
A Sunday School teacher was teaching a group of teenage boys one Sunday about Christ's disciples; about their abilities, their attributes, and why Jesus might have chosen them. Toward the end of the lesson a teen-aged boy who was particularly enthralled about the whole concept of calling, chosen by God, said, "Teacher, why did Jesus choose Judas?" To which the Sunday school teacher replied, "Son, I don't know. But I have a harder question. Why did Jesus choose me?"
You have heard the pastor say, He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the ones he called.
On a non religious note, my daughter was invited by her teacher to apply for an award called a Presidential Scholar in the category of the Arts. At that time she was attending Interlochen High School in Michigan while we were living in Philadelphia. At that time none of us knew exactly what the competition entailed – it turned out to be a nationwide competition and each State selected its honorees. Out that invitation by her teacher she not only received the award from the Governor of Pennsylvania but from President Bush Sr. in a ceremony in Washington DC. Had she not responded to the invitation, she would have never had that experience.
A calling for everyone
The elderly woman unable to physically attend church any longer asked the pastor what she could do for the church. In her late eighties she still felt called by God to some purpose. Years before, Betty had been the Churches’ organist/pianist and could still play any hymn in the hymnbook by heart. After talking about what she would like to do for the church, the pastor thought about other shut-ins who missed attending church and loved music – he had even tried to sing some hymns to them during home visits. On that thought he suggested that other shut-ins could call her on the phone and she play the hymns on her piano over the phone.
After a couple of months, the pastor stopped to see Betty at her home only to find that not only people of her church were calling her to hear her play, but that she was getting calls from shut-ins – members of other churches. She not only felt needed, but she was filling a need that only God would have known existed.
And the original invitation/calling for Betty didn’t end there, for word that she was now in demand of her “phone a hymn” ministry, members of her Sunday School class that she had attended for years were moved to adopt a calling of their own. Members of the class took on the challenge to each adopt a shut-in and take in upon themselves to either visit them, call them and/or send them a card once a month.
And it didn’t stop there. Word of the work of the Sunday School Class as well as Betty spread to yet others in the congregation who thought they could take their example a step further and adopt the concept of “neighborhood groups” where the geography of the church membership would be divided into groups and each group would care for anyone in their geographical area who was in need.
And it didn’t stop there. Some members of the “neighborhood groups” began to realize that they did have the skills that were sometimes need to administer to the needs of one other members without calling upon the pastor of the church. This led to the development of some members being trained as Stephen’s ministry. Stephen’s ministers receive over 1200 hours of training in pastoral care, not in replacing the pastor’s care, but supplementing that care with lay trained “ministers.”
With just one person responding to an invitation/calling grew a 4 different and distinct ministries. In one case it was a person some would consider too old to still make a contribution to a young man who heard the appeal of an African missionary to a young shepherd, named David, too small to wear the King’s armor but yet would slay a giant, God equips all he calls.
What is God nudging you to do today? And what did finally tell Moses after he questioned his calling? “Go!