Today’s scripture readings seem to be about recognizing God’s call and acting upon it. Amos warns his listeners, Seek good and not evil, that you may live. The psalmist admonishes, Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, Though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you? And in Matthew, Jesus casts demons out of two men by sending them into a herd of swine that then run into the sea. How do the local people respond to Christ’s miracle? They beg Him to leave.
The Gadarenes. I’ve always found their story kind of sad. Jesus comes to their land. He demonstrates his compassion, power and love by casting demons out of two men. And the people point Jesus towards the exit. They reject Jesus. Why? Were the people that set in their patterns feel that demon possession was okay? Did Christ’s compassion make them uncomfortable? Did his power frighten them? Did anyone celebrate or give thanks that two men had been saved from demons? Did anyone leave and follow Christ? Did anyone ask Jesus to come home for dinner? The demons recognized Jesus, but did the people? You have to wonder.
I’m probably pretty critical of the Gadarenes. And yet sometimes I wonder how much I am like them. Do I recognize Jesus? Do I listen to His call? Does Christ’s call make me uncomfortable? How do I react if I don’t like what I hear? How much will it cost me to follow Christ? Can I really trust God? How far will serving God take me out of my routine? How far out of my comfort zone?
My 15-year-old son announced recently that he felt called to go on a mission trip to Haiti. I quickly let him know that I did not feel called. My wife let me know, just as quickly, that if our son was being called to a foreign country, I was being called, too. Funny how that works. So, as you read this, I will probably be on my way to Maliarette, Haiti. Way outside of my comfort zone.
I met with the people organizing the mission. My initial assumption was that I would be the cat herder. The one to keep a bunch of teenagers in line. No, we’ll be working on a project. Great, give me a project and I’ll have a list of tools and supplies and away we go. They looked at me strangely and said we would be working on water or education. I thought that was pretty vague. People say I have a strong back and a weak mind… or is it a weak back and strong mind? Either way, I can teach or I can dig. The mission organizers told me we weren’t going there to fix, we were going there to serve.
I had to laugh at myself. How arrogant can I be? Sometimes I wonder if God rolls His eyes after I speak. Thank God for His forgiveness and patience. I realized this wasn’t something I was going to be able to work like a project. I was going to have to trust God. My faith would have to be in God’s faithfulness. That God would show me what to do when the time comes. This is hard.
My prayer today is for all of us who hear God’s call, but aren’t sure whether or how to follow it. My prayer is for all of us going on missions. That we would be servants who put ourselves in God’s hands. That Christ’s light would shine through us.
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