MM4G-MY MISSION FOR GOD
PASSION + APTITUDE = CALLING
January 19, 2020
Last Sunday we pondered the assertion that we don’t go to Church…we are the Church! We are the hands, the feet, the voice of Christ in this world wherever we are, whenever we are attuned to someone in need of our Lord’s healing, hope-filled grace.
Yes, each of us, as the Church in the world, has a personal mission for God. So the question becomes “How do I know what my mission for God is?”
Well, it all begins with identifying our unique Calling – that which God intends for me to be and to do. And that can sometime involve a bit of trial and error!
From the pages of the Preacher’s Cheesiest Stories is the classic yarn about a young Indiana farmer named John who had grown quite bored with his life. One afternoon, while plowing the north 40, he gazed up in the sky and saw a peculiar cloud formation that spelled what appeared to be the letters GPC.
Now John was an extremely devout Christian fellow, and he interpreted this as a sign from God to Go Preach Christ. He immediately hopped down from his tractor and headed off to seminary to become a Baptist preacher. Upon graduation, he was called to his first congregation—a tiny rural Baptist church down in eastern Kentucky.
Poor John couldn’t preach a lick. The congregation soon was dwindling. The elders of the church had a meeting with John and informed him he had to leave. John protested, “But God called me to this! I saw it plain as day in the sky while I was plowing a field—clouds spelling GPC—Go Preach Christ!”
One of the wise elders said to John, “Did you ever consider God was calling you to Go Plant Corn?”
This morning I want us to explore how we might get a clearer understanding of our personal mission for God. It all begins when you…
NAME YOUR PASSION!
One of the most revered figures in all the Bible is the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. He arrives on the scene in the early-mid 700’s BC. He is quite well-respected throughout the Southern Kingdom of Judah – a very distinguished and educated citizen of Jerusalem.
Isaiah possesses a rich command of language. He is indeed a wordsmith. His passion is writing. The old-fashioned term for it is scribe. He fancies himself as a scribe, one who can put pen to paper and communicate profound thoughts.
What is your passion? What animates you? What gets you all energized, excited? What do you consider most worthy of your time and focus? What do you enjoy doing the most?
Discovering your personal mission for God begins when you name your passion… and also when you…
AIM YOUR APTITUDE!
As Isaiah reaches adulthood, he discovers he has great propensity toward politics. He is quite adept at navigating the backslapping, backstabbing waters of behind-the-scenes policymaking in government. In fact, he will be invited to serve as a close advisor to five different kings in his lifetime. His opinions are valued by the weak-minded, ego-maniac kings he serves, yet, those opinions will eventually be ignored. But, nonetheless, Isaiah certainly exhibits tremendous aptitude as a politician.
What assures you? What are the God-given skills in your wheelhouse that give you great confidence? What do you do well? What do you have a knack for? What do others consider to be your competency? Are you left-brain, right-brain? (Sometimes I think I’m no-brain!) How do you nurture those skills? How do you go about improving them?
Discover your personal mission for God – you name your passion…you aim your aptitude…and when you blend them together, you find yourself able to…
CLAIM YOUR CALLING!
God has a unique personal mission in mind for Isaiah. He can use Isaiah’s passion for communication and his aptitude as a politician to speak truth to Judah’s corrupt leaders. He is calling Isaiah to prophethood.
Isaiah is a deeply spiritual man. While in the midst of worship one day, he experiences an intense sense of God’s calling upon his life:
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, 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 seraphim 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!”
I’ve often wondered what the other folks in the temple were doing while Isaiah sees this dramatic vision of God’s messengers…were they fidgeting, looking at their sundials, thinking about the lambchops they left over the fire back home for Sabbath lunch?
Isaiah is tuned into God, though. As the 17th century monk Brother Lawrence would say, Isaiah is practicing the presence of God. And Brother Lawrence would maintain that you can find God’s presence anywhere, anytime—even doing something mundane as washing dishes.
However, you must open your eyes, your ears, your heart to God’s presence around you and within you. His Spirit yearns to encounter you in every moment of every day.
Just as there are WiFi hotspots all over Harrisonburg that your phone or laptop can tap into to communicate with the internet, so God’s Spirit surrounds us nonstop, and we can experience God’s calling at any time.
We must make time to be aware and to focus on our Maker. Psalm 46 compels us to “Be still, and know that God is God!”
We must quit putting so many irons in the fire that we put the fire out…leaving no room for God’s presence.
What inspires you? What enables you to reach beyond yourself to attempt great things? Where do you find your connection with the empowering presence of God…is it in times of worship, of prayer, of reading God’s Word, of seeking the counsel of wise Christian friends?
When are you moved to blend your passion and aptitude in order to put magnificent missional ideas into motion for your Lord?
WHEN IT ALL COMES TOGETHER…
God will use Isaiah mightily. Isaiah’s prophetic message for God will reverberate throughout the halls of government and the surrounding hillsides of Judah for over a half-century. It will be a thankless task. He preaches God’s judgment toward the corruption of the times. He also proclaims God’s salvation, comfort and hope if only the people will turn and embrace the message. And yet, most remain deaf and defiant.
Isaiah is vilified. He is persecuted. He will eventually die a martyr’s death as the despotic King Manessah orders him to be placed inside the hollow of a tree trunk and be sawn in half.
Eventually, though, Isaiah’s prophetic words will find fulfillment some seven centuries later as a supreme Suffering Servant arises to reveal the heart of God for all the world. His name will be Jesus. Isaiah’s calling will find fruition in the redemption offered in Jesus Christ.
Your passion and aptitude also converge into a calling that serves God’s purposes in this world. At the risk of embarrassing them, may I offer some examples this thru everyday folk in our church family?
Kortney Bostic is one of our many amazing kids at Vision of Hope! Her passion is music. She also possesses great aptitude for all things technological. Her passion and aptitude have melded recently as she has become fascinating in learning how to run sound. John Evans, our sound engineer, has helped her to grasp the basic concepts of operating a sound board. And she is now fulfilling a calling in serving as an assistant sound engineer for our church!
Chase Will is an inspiring young man with a great passion for Young Life, another wonderful organization reaching out to teens. He also possesses tremendous people skills, helping others feel at ease with his genuine smile and caring ways. This passion and aptitude will continue to blend together for Chase as he has been called to be a part of a highly-select team who will share God’s love as Young Life counselors to teens. His training will take place this summer!
Judy Briggs has a passion for listening. She has an intuitive way of hearing other’s needs and responding with kindness. Several years ago she was part of a Stephen Ministry team at Verona UMC, honing her God-given caregiving skills.
As many of you know, Judy has been battling Parkinson’s Disease for some years now. Judy became intrigued with a type of therapy for this disorder that utilizes the rigorous training of boxers. The mechanics of boxing slows the progression of this disabling disease.
Judy felt a calling from God to help fellow Parkies discover this same road back to normal functioning as she had. With the help of a local YMCA director, Judy organized a group 20+ adults in the Staunton area and her efforts have spawned additional groups in Harrisonburg and surrounding communities. The impact has been tremendous for those suffering from this disorder.
Under the encouragement of Honey Lightner, the Prayer Shawl Knitting Team has become quite a force for God’s compassion in our church and community also. Each Thursday afternoon, some 6-10 ladies converge at Honey’s Sunnyside apartment to create shawls and blankets that provide a tangible symbol of God’s comfort for those dealing with pain and loss.
Yet, there is an adjunct member of the knitting team that also contributes many blankets to the cause whose name may surprise you – Richard Plymale. Richard, whose many years of operating heavy equipment led to a disabling degeneration of discs in his back, discovered a passion for knitting late in life. He learned the techniques thru watching YouTube videos. He said the process of knitting takes his mind off the constant chronic pain he endures.
Richard has always had excellent eye-hand coordination, and this aptitude has served him well in the intricate interweaving of yarn into complex patterns. And the beautiful blankets he creates certainly serve as one avenue for fulfilling God’s calling in his life to bring comfort to others!
Yes, the equation is quite simple:
Passion + Aptitude = Calling.
Name your passion!
Aim your aptitude!
Claim your calling!
May we each discover our personal mission for God as we seek the blending of these three aspects of his working in our lives!