More Than Called…

“To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance” (Jude 1:1-2).

Each of us have been called to serve our mighty God in a unique way. But we may become so busy fulfilling our call that we focus on the doing. We want to do better—to write well, to teach effectively, to do whatever we’ve been called to do to the best of our ability.

Yet our ability is limited. We struggle with our inadequacy as we represent the King of Kings, and we seek His enabling to accomplish His purposes.

To be conscious of our calling is to serve with an awareness of the privilege of being used by God to advance His kingdom. But that’s only a partial picture of what it means to be called. In the New Testament, Jude made a point of addressing his epistle to those who are called, loved, and kept.

We can be so busy ministering the love of God to everyone else that it’s easy to forget we’re also recipients of that same love. We are loved by the God of love, not because we serve, but because He lavishly pours out His love on us as a result of Jesus Christ’s atoning work.

Not only are we loved with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3), we are also kept. Our Heavenly Father sustains us and protects us. He holds us in the palm of His hand and there’s no safer place to be.

He saves us by the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, and He seals us by His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). We have everything we need to do all He has called us to do. More importantly, we have everything we need to be all that He has called us to be—chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, and sealed.

When we understand who we are—and who we belong to—God releases His power in us and through us to serve Him. The order is important. Identity comes before service. Being comes before doing. Reveling in His mercy, peace, and love comes before ministry in His name.

Before you write your next chapter, teach your next class, or answer the twenty emails sitting in your Inbox, take a moment to remind yourself, “I am loved with a lavish, everlasting love. It has nothing to do with what I do, but it has everything to do with who I am: a beloved child of the King kept by His almighty hand.”

Once we understand God’s love and His keeping, we are free to serve Him without fear, equipped in every way to fulfill the purpose to which we are called.

When ALS Is Personal

May is National ALS Awareness month. Ten years ago, this might not have registered on my radar. After all, there are more than 70 different monthly observances in May, including Brain Tumor Awareness, Fibromyalgia Education, Lupus Awareness, Strike Out Strokes, and Tourette’s Syndrome Awareness. Each of these observances—and many others—vie for attention to increase awareness and raise funds for their cause.

Then ALS became personal. No, I don’t have it. Neither does anyone in my family (to the best of my knowledge). But ten years ago, I met an amazing individual. Dick Wilson has ALS – Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The typical prognosis is death within two to five years from diagnosis. Dick was diagnosed with ALS more than 30 years ago.

Despite symptoms such as difficulty breathing and swallowing, progressive muscle weakness, and speech problems, Dick’s mind remains sharp. He home-schools his teenage son, tutors other students in math and science, and travels on missions trips.

Yes, I said missions trips. Dick refuses to allow ALS to interfere with God’s call on his life. Although restricted to a wheelchair and unable to care for many of his own needs, Dick has taken multiple missions trips to the Caribbean and as far away as Bangladesh. His heart’s desire is for the welfare of others—including their spiritual welfare.

Most of us will never suffer the traumatic effects of ALS. Yet we allow more trivial circumstances to prevent us from fulfilling God’s call on our own lives. We often find comfort in self-pity and seek our own comfort above all else.

If ALS doesn’t stop Dick, what’s my excuse?
What’s yours?