What is a “calling”? Often when we find ourselves doing something we really enjoy that makes a difference in the lives of the people around us we might say that we have ‘found our calling’, our destiny. Discovering our purpose in life becomes the grand pursuit of growing up. What do you want to be when you grow up?
This is not to be confused with the profession we train and study and work to pursue. That’s what we DO. Our calling is who we are! We are called – by God. Romans 8:28 in the New International Version Bible reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” That is usually the version that I quote as I focus on the promise that God is working every thing out for our good and His glory.
When I was a kid I memorized the King James Version of Romans 8:28. It goes like this. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I never quite understood that phrase….to them who are THE CALLED. I LOVE that! That is you and me! We are called by God…to God. It is not something we do or something we work to achieve. We are His.
What does God say about you? You are called.
Have you ever thought about what David meant when he wrote ‘though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…’? Sounds ominous and foreboding, doesn’t it?! I hadn’t really felt the full weight of that space until this past year. Keeping vigil alongside my sister-in-law while my youngest brother lay dying in a hospital bed. Nearly 48 hours we sat beside him, praying, reminiscing, hoping for a miracle, weeping, laughing, reading scripture, playing worship music. Everything we tried to do to bring him, and each other, comfort. We walked with him as far as we could in this life. I knew the moment he took his last breath, and his first forever step into eternity, that he was embraced fully by the arms of His Savior.
Never alone. Sometimes God allows us to keep each other company but even when there is no one around…we are never alone. Jesus said this in Matthew 28:20, “Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He never leaves us!
Even when I thought I couldn’t endure that valley as the death shadow passed over me…I knew God’s presence was there. He was holding me close…close enough that I could feel His heartbeat. I’ve never felt the veil between this life and the heavenly realm feel as thin as it did that day and in those days following such loss. God said He is near the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Loss can come from so many things. You may have suffered the loss of a loved one, perhaps a job loss, the letting go of a dream, a marriage, or a home. In all of it, God is with us. He is not limited by time or space as we are. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
What does God say about you? You are never alone.
One of my favorite words in the English language is the word ‘amazing’. It almost demands an exclamation mark at the end! It makes me think that whatever we are attaching that description to is well beyond what we thought it could be. For instance, our vacation was amazing! The band put on an amazing show! This new coffee flavor is amazing!
How about the amazing grace of God?! His grace is so far beyond what we could ever think or imagine. Once we’ve encountered His amazing grace…our lives are never the same. The grace of God is so incredibly complex and yet so very simple. We could speak a lifetime and not explain the complexity of His grace and yet when the Master of the Universe whispers to our heart His divine invitation to receive His grace in exchange for all of our sin all we need to say is simply, “yes”.
As His creation, you and I are made in His image. From The Passion Translation, Psalm 139:4 says, “I thank You, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything You do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly You know me, Lord!” There is that description again of being more than what we ever thought we could be…mysteriously complex…and yet so simple.
What does God say about you? You are amazing!
When I was a kid one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons was Popeye the Sailor Man. Do you remember what made him strong? Of course, it was the spinach! That cartoon had to have been crafted by a mom trying to find a clever way to get her kids to like spinach…and eat it!!
How about the Bible character Samson? Remember the link to his strength? We might shorten the story by saying he was strong because he never cut his hair. But his strength wasn’t really in his long locks. His strength was a result of God’s blessing on him as he took his vows to follow God seriously with an outward sign of never cutting his hair. You can read the story of Samson in Judges 13.
We might consider a strong person one who can lift a lot of weights in the gym or one who can hike up a massive mountain. But strength is not only measured by our physical muscle capabilities. Some of the strongest people I’ve known in my life are not mountain climbers, weightlifters or even daily workout champions. The true strength of a person can also be measured by what is on the inside. The one who can withstand the many attacks of an often unpredictable, ever ruthless enemy. The one who has the strength to stand when the cacophony of voices keep saying… we are not good enough, rich enough, pretty enough, smart enough. But, hear this truth from our Father in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” ALL THINGS. You and I can face enormous attacks and subtle attacks because we will never face them alone. Because Jesus Christ is the One inside us who makes us able to walk through every situation that seems bigger than us. Because HE is bigger than every situation.
What does God say about you? You are strong.
The dictionary defines victorious as triumphant. I envision a massive wave of cheering…an energetic celebration following a BIG win. THAT’S a LOT of energy. Is it even possible to keep that level of triumph up day after day?!
My eyes fell to a frequently asked question below that definition to this sentence. ‘You use the word victorious to describe someone who has won a victory in a struggle, war or competition’. Well, my goodness, wouldn’t you agree that, every day you and I are faced with at least one struggle! Some days we are definitely feeling as though we are at war with our spouse, our kids, our parents…ourselves! And should we even bring up the competition factor?! If we’re not competing with our co-workers or our neighbors we are absolutely competing for the fast lane on the highway or the parking space up front!
EVERY DAY…there is a struggle, a battle for our heart, our mind and soul. But listen to what 1 Corinthians 15:57 declares over you and I. “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever…I believe that promise is for today, and tomorrow and the next day…. and God GIVES US the victory! Don’t miss those two words in His promise. We can get up this morning and thank God for the victory. Expect the victory. Watch for it! And when we receive it through Christ…we celebrate and thank Him again! Because Jesus triumphed…so can we!
What does God say about you? You are victorious.
Little white lights strung over a patio in the backyard. A sunrise over the ocean. An orchestra playing your favorite song. Watching the sun set regardless of how good or how hard the day has been…for the moments that we can watch that miracle of extraordinary closure of the experiences and emotions of another number on the calendar…for that brief space we forget about the day and are held captive by the beauty of the moment.
It is rare that we describe someone as beautiful. Babies are beautiful. Brides are beautiful. A married couple renewing their vows after being together for decades…that is beautiful. All of these are moments in time. We often tend to judge beauty by those rare exceptional moments; but rarely do we acknowledge and take time to appreciate the beauty in the ordinary, every day lives around us.
WE…are His most valuable art. So precious are we to Him that He chose to send His only Son, Jesus, to die in our place so that we can live forever with Him. His Spirit, inside of us, makes us uniquely beautiful. Not beauty that is skin deep…but beauty that radiates from way down deep in our soul. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that “He (God) has made everything beautiful in its time.”
What does God say about you? You are beautiful.
When we are young, we hear stories about princesses and the warriors who save them. Little girls want to be the princess whom the warrior defends. Little boys want to be the warrior who slays the dragon. Then we grow up. It becomes harder and harder to believe we are a princess worthy of defending or a warrior courageous enough to win the fight.
But you and I…we are royalty. We are the King’s kids. Yes, the world can be frightening and cruel. Yes, there will be hard days…that may turn into hard months…and even harder years. Some days will feel like a dream. Other days will seem to never end. But there is One who never leaves our side. He is our Victor. His name is Jesus. He is strong and mighty to save us. Whether we are a princess or a warrior…or maybe a warrior princess….we all need our Warrior Jesus to save us. And indeed He did!!
Colossians 1:13 tells us “for He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”
What does God say about you? You are rescued.
I am the queen of saving coupons and gift cards. I like to tuck them away for a ‘special’ occasion…and I can’t begin to tell you how many coupons expired and businesses closed without me ever using them for the savings they were meant to bring me. There’s no one to blame but myself. I fully had the capability to enjoy the benefits of those gift cards and coupons. I chose not to use them. Maybe not intentionally, but putting off using them is still the same.
Romans 3:24 tells us “ALL are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” ALL means every one of us…and justified freely means…well, it means that the cost of our freedom was paid for…our redemption from the bondage of sin…is available to us through Christ. But there is a choice to be made. And no one can make it for us. We have to choose to receive that redemption. We can hear about it, learn about it, consider receiving it on some other day, but unless we choose to accept His grace, freely given for our redemption, we choose to stand unjustified…separate from God. When you choose Him, you are taking full advantage of the gift that Christ Jesus paid for with His life.
What does God say about you? In Him, you are redeemed.
Growing up on the east coast it was always easy for me to get my bearings. The ocean and the spectacular sunrise served as a type of compass for me. Later, when my husband, Ken, and I went on a Caribbean cruise we spent several days at sea between ports. I’ll never forget walking the deck of this enormous ship. No matter which direction I looked, or how hard my eyes strained to see land off in the distance, there was no land in sight. What direction were we heading? In the middle of the day when the sun was directly overhead it was impossible to know without an actual compass.
The one thing that struck me that first day was that there was no dividing line from east to west. I could turn around 360 degrees and only see the ocean. There was no way to tell where the east ended and the west began! I was reminded of that promise in Psalm 103:12. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” There is no dividing line between what kind of sin or how often we’ve sinned. The truth is that we were born sinners….in desperate need of a Savior. His name is Jesus; and because He lived a sinless life, died on a cross for every one of us – taking on our sin, and then rose again, we can be saved. Jesus made a way for our relationship with God to be restored. The only way for imperfect us to be reconnected with the one true and perfect God is through Jesus and because of Him, we are saved.
What does God say about you? When you receive Christ as your Savior…You are forgiven.
Isn’t it crazy that we can receive a dozen compliments…and yet one negative or critical comment can totally derail us??!! Sometimes it’s not anyone else’s voice that causes us to shut down. It’s our own voice that leaves us diminished and feeling inadequate.
We need to remind ourselves that we are made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27) That’s right. You and I bear the image of God within us! The enemy of our soul wants to discredit God’s work in us. Don’t let him do it! To everything God created He said, ‘It is good’. And when He formed man and then breathed life into him, God said, ‘It is very good.’
What we see as weakness in ourselves, God sees as strength. That’s the very point that we must lean in to receive His strength and because of Him we ARE enough. The very places in us that are lacking are exactly where the power of Christ can shine brightest. 2 Corinthians 12:9 in The Living Bible says “Each time he said, ‘I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities.”
What does God say about you? You are enough.