Jesus is Always Calling
The Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore recounts being “recognized” in Washington, D.C., at last week’s ECW Fall Dinner
Last Wednesday, I attended the ECW Fall Dinner along with a large group of some of my favorite people ... the women of St. Philip’s! When asked if I would write about the experience, I went to prayer, and my thoughts began to revolve around the words “call,” “story,” and “kingdom.”
The evening was one of food and fellowship punctuated by a talk given by the Very Rev. Dr. Peter Moore, someone whom I greatly admire for many reasons, but particularly for his ability to connect, seemingly effortlessly, with everyone. True to form, he shared with us the impact that the reading of the biographies of missionaries had had on his life. He told us the story of Gladys Aylward, a missionary to China during the 1940s. As a young, single woman, she followed a compelling desire to give her life to God, and with few resources, became a tireless champion of faith and mercy among the least of the Chinese people.
The ladies of St. Philip’s and their guests view a picture of Gladys Aylward, the subject of Dr. Moore’s talk.
I share Dr. Moore’s love for books and movies which tell inspiring true stories of faith. They always contain the element of struggle and hardship overcome by courage and great effort. Each story is unique, with the common denominator being the individual’s relationship with God. Some of my favorites titles are Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose, God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, and Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. All are stories of people who leave their own countries, like Gladys Aylward did, to go to another country to spread the gospel.
But what about another kind of calling, one in which one’s mission field is right where they are? How do we recognize that call? Jesus says to us, “Follow me.” How do we know where he is leading?
In Gladys Aylward’s story and many other missionary stories, there is usually a strong desire to do something. In Catherine Marshall’s classic autobiography, Beyond Ourselves, there were dramatic changes to her life’s circumstances that caused her to fervently seek the Lord out of a strong need for guidance (she went on to be a celebrated Christian writer, and her books have played an important role in discipling me). For many of us, we may feel a sense of dissatisfaction with our lives, a longing for something more (also one of Catherine Marshall’s book titles).
In any case, out of love, Jesus calls each of us with the voice of his Holy Spirit, to let us know that the Father has written a compelling story for our lives. As we learn to quiet our thoughts, ask for the Spirit’s leading, and listen for His voice, our unique stories truly begin to be written.
God’s kingdom is not some thing or some place “out there.” It is the Holy Spirit’s presence in us, as Jesus instructed in Luke 17:21. Often, as we commit ourselves to the spiritual exercise of quietly seeking and listening, one new idea will come to us, which we check against Scripture (see Philippians 4:6) and, perhaps, the counsel of a Christian friend. As we act upon this idea, we experience the joy that comes from recognizing our Savior’s direct interaction in our lives. Now, we are beginning to know him as Lord!
Like any good story, our kingdom story will include challenges. But the Kingdom life is a call to a life that overcomes. It is a life in which nothing can separate us from His presence, His provision, and His promises, because He is within us! When we trust Him to write our life’s story, when we know that He has called us, and we look, moment by moment, for His direction, then we are enabled to experience the adventure of doing the work of the Kingdom. Then, we take our unique place in God’s bigger story, just as have Gladys Aylward and Dr. Peter Moore.