By Alan Stanley, excerpted from Workship.
When my eldest two boys were young, they were given life-sized dolls of Bert and Ernie – from the television program Sesame Street – for Christmas. When opening their presents, what captivated them was not Bert and Ernie, but two small bags of balloons. Hmmm, what to get excited about, Bert and Ernie, or balloons? I would have thought Bert and Ernie, but not to them.
That is often how it is in life. I am currently unemployed. What excites me these days is a job opportunity, a “position,” an area where I can contribute. In fact, right now I was scheduled to leave for a month-long teaching trip overseas. That’s a month of feeling like I have something to offer, feeling useful. However, Coronavirus has put a stop to that. So now what?
We desire to contribute, to make a difference; we want to feel valued, we want to be active.
But what excites us is not always what excites God. Don’t get me wrong, God is interested in our work and our activities, but not always in the way we are. To him they can be like bags of balloons, while the true gift is standing right in front of us. Let me illustrate from a recent conversation.
I was talking to my wife about the Christian concept of “calling.” A call, to put it loosely, is when God places something on your heart so strongly that it becomes your mission or goal. I was telling my wife what I thought my “calling” was in this season of unemployment. An hour later I was reading I Corinthians 1 as part of my daily Bible reading plan. In verse 2 it says:
To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be his holy people, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – their Lord and ours.
The words “called to be his holy people” stood out like a neon light.
Given that I had only just spouted off on what I thought my calling was, it was pretty clear what was happening here as I Corinthians 1:2 stared back at me. It is as though God was saying, “Alan, this is your calling, to be holy; and what an ideal situation for you to learn that – no job, no income, no overseas travel. Perfect!” Not my idea of perfection!
I knew of course that I was called to be holy, every Christian knows that . . . however for this to be highlighted for me after claiming to know my calling, well, this had to be more than a coincidence. God was taking my attention off the metaphorical bag of balloons and focusing it on the metaphorical Bert and Ernie. This didn’t mean relaxing my search for a job, only that God was highlighting where my focus was to be – and indeed where his focus was. It’s hard though, I admit. Being called to be holy is not always number one on my priority list.
And yet this is something that God had been impressing upon me for years, through what I had discovered in the Scriptures. Let’s start at the beginning, when God created human beings:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
Image is about how we want to be known, how we want to be identified.
We may want to be identified as slim, sporty, tough, funny, well mannered, hard-working, intelligent, easygoing, tolerant, wealthy, educated, moral, religious and so on.
But Genesis 1 tells us that God created us so that we might be identified with him! God created us so that others might see something of his glory (see especially Psalm 8:5), something of his character, something of God. It’s a simple plan!
In fact, we can see that this is his plan by following, very briefly, the storyline of the Bible…
Read the rest of the article at Workship.