Posts Tagged ‘call of God’
By Virginia Kremer
WHILE waiting for something to finish cooking, my eyes absently came to rest on my kitchen timer. The last time I had really looked at it, it was shiny new. That was 30 years ago! I picked it up thinking how old and worn it was. Its imitation wood sides were scratched and there were a couple of marks left in haste by buttered fingers. Nicks on the plastic rim were the results of falls, and its face had become cloudy. As I turned it over, the decorative gold-coloured cap in the middle slipped off as usual, reminding me that although I had planned many times to glue it back in place, once the timer’s work was done, I had not thought of it again. Who thinks about an old kitchen timer as long as it works? And why not replace it by a new, modern version?
Looking at it in amazement and wondering where the time had gone since I’d received it as a wedding gift, I thought of the person who had given it to me: Anna. Tears came to my eyes. I had never really mourned her death a few years ago. Her passing away had happened when I, myself, was facing the desperate situation of my husband’s serious illness.
I pictured her jolly, smiling face, twinkling eyes, ruddy cheeks, and grey hair, once black and curly, pulled back in a bun. Anna was from a large farming family of Mennonites in Alsace. She had wanted to play the saxophone as a young person, but her very strict father considered that a sin. She had rebelled and gone out into the “world” but early on realized that without God, life had no meaning. She came back to the faith of her fathers and opened her heart to the love of God and to salvation in His Son Jesus Christ. Her life was turned around and she became an ardent witness to His grace and saving power. Her great desire was to serve Him as a missionary all the days of her life and she made known her calling to the elders of her church. Anna was a farm girl with minimum schooling and no qualifications. She was sent to work in the home of a prominent Christian family whose vocation was to send out missionaries. There, she was to clean and cook, and in other words, be their servant. She had her little room up under the eaves on the third floor and was on call twenty-four hours a day!
A call frustrated?
She never made it to the mission field. She spent her life up to her retirement doing what she did best: cooking, cleaning and working in the garden. There may have been times when she was a little frustrated; she had had such a clear calling. But wherever Anna went, be it in a shop or at the market or on the train or talking to someone at the door, everyone remarked her beaming face and cheery presence. She always spoke a word for the Lord. She had the gift of evangelism. Even the most defiant or disinterested could not resist her words of wisdom and truth. Not only did she believe, but she also put what she believed in practice. The children in the Sunday School loved to hear her tell Bible stories and several generations called her “Aunt Anna”. Some of them went on to serve the Lord.
Taken for granted
When I was in the home where Anna served, she was such a joy and encouragement to me. Somehow, she made life easier, smoothed out the rough places and made me feel at home. Yet, Anna was only a servant. Everyone took her for granted. She was always there. No one seemed to notice that the years were passing, that time and work were taking their toll. Who cares about an old servant? When she can’t work anymore, she will be replaced.
Faithful and fruitful
Anna has gone home to be with the Lord she loved and served so faithfully. She didn’t get to be a missionary and go to a foreign field as she had dreamed, but she didn’t let that stop her from being a true witness to Christ where she was. Anna served a number of God’s servants. Some of them may not have even taken much notice of her, but it wouldn’t surprise me that when we all stand before God’s throne and the rewards are passed out, Anna might just be up in the front row among the most faithful!
Now when I pick up my timer, I always think of Anna, and thankfully remember that God is not like us. He doesn’t use people and then replace them when they are old or no longer physically useful. He sees and knows the hidden motives of the heart. He does not stop at the outward appearance, the superficial spirituality, the ‘importance’ of the person in men’s eyes, the apparent usefulness or success or education. He looks at the heart, the love there for Him and for others, the humble service where there is no place for self-glory.
I’ve learned so much from my old kitchen timer and from Anna! ■
Virginia lives in France, where she worked for many years with her late husband, Etienne, as members of the Mission-Foi- Evangile.
This article was first printed in Life Indeed, November/December 2004
By Rev. Dr. Sandy Roger
HAVE you ever heard someone telling of their call to Bible College and thought: “God’s call is only for the elite. The Lord would never call me; I’m not spiritual or good enough.” Perhaps you feel that all this “call” is something mysterious and definitely not for you.
The Scriptures deal with this subject plainly and practically. So before going any further, will you go and get your bible and read the account of Jesus calling some of his first disciples? You will find it in Matthew 4:18-22.
So often, we think of this incident only as Christ’s call to would-be followers, but it also has some more profound lessons about how Christ calls people to his service. The “call to discipleship stories” in the Gospels always operate on two levels – encouragement for those taking their first tentative steps in Christ’s direction, and the challenge to face up to what this will eventually entail.
Jesus called people who had already proved themselves as workers. It is highly unlikely that the Lord is going to call you to Bible College and train you for Christian service if you are not already working for Him. The Jewish Rabbis tended to call people to follow them and become great scholars. Jesus, in contrast, was on the lookout for workers.
Among the original disciples there were seven fishermen. Why so many? These men had the very qualities needed for the life of discipleship. In their busy jobs they had already acquired the basic skills of patience, courage, co-operation and trust.
Jesus called people to a new task in which they could use their old skills.
Christ’s call does not obliterate all of your past experience and skills. These are the very things He wants to use.
It forces us to ask the question: “What do I do in my present, secular employment that I could utilize in the service of Christ and His Church?” All the people Jesus called brought something with them to be used for Christ and by Christ. Luke certainly made use of his medical skill. Paul brought with him his passionate religious zeal and sharp mind. Lydia placed her home at the Lord’s disposal. Bible College training will only make our life skills more effective.
Jesus called people to leave certain things behind. The followers here gave up their means of livelihood, their family, and their security. Some are called today to do the same. All are called to support those who do.
There is always an element of sacrifice in responding to Christ’s call. But he never drags people kicking and screaming against their will. Those who become involved in Christ’s service out of a sense of pressure, guilt or fear inevitably end up frustrated, angry and resentful. Their testimony becomes, “Look what I gave up.” To which the Lord replies, “Yes, but the one thing you haven’t given up is your self.”
Jesus called different kinds of people. Peter was impulsive and headstrong. He had a big heart, but he also had a big mouth and big feet! Andrew was content always to play a supporting role. James and John were probably nicknamed the sons of thunder because of their fiery tempers. We know that along with their mother they were overly ambitious. But Jesus called them all. It is no problem to him to take our personality defects and eccentricities. In fact, he is the only One who can do anything with them.
Jesus expects our eventual response. This was not the first time these men had met Jesus. Previously they had been to his home and they had even accompanied him to a wedding reception. By piecing together the various Gospel accounts it becomes clear that he had actually given them about a year to think it over. Jesus never hurries or hassles people into discipleship and service.
I would love to think that some of your reasons for not recognizing or responding to Christ’s call could be demolished by taking a fresh look at this familiar story.
• All the skills learned in life so far could be used by Jesus, if only they were placed in His hands.
• Even though you see yourself as different from every Bible College student you know, that does not mean there is no place for your gifts and personality.
• The Lord has given you more than enough time to mull things over and in your heart you know it is now time for action.
Here is a prayer that you might find helpful.
Lord Jesus, for some time I have been aware of your call upon my life, and I have now reached a point of no return. Insistently, I can hear your voice: “Follow Me.” Clearly, I can see your promise: “I will make you…” Help me to move forward in step with your will for my life.
Dr Sandy Roger is a former Principal of the Faith Mission Bible College, Edinburgh.
He is now a parish minister in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, ScotlandThis article was published by The Faith Mission, Edinburgh, in Life Indeed May/June 2002