I was seventeen years old, and just days away from my high school graduation. Attending a very small Christian school where it was customary for each graduate to give a speech at the ceremony, I was preparing my words. Given that I was the only one graduating that year, I wanted them to be important. Traditionally, the speech was meant to be a time to thank family and friends for their help in reaching graduation. But being me, I wanted my speech to be more. Knowing the people who would be in the audience, including unsaved relatives and friends who had once committed their lives to Jesus but then decided they wanted to experience the pleasures that went with a more sinful lifestyle, there was a message burning in my heart. If I was going to talk and they had to listen, there were some things that I wanted to say. Although I can’t remember every word I said, I remember that it was all based around this quote from Jim Elliott: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I even sang an old Twila Paris song that said:
“Show me the fool who abandons his life, to walk in the paths of our Lord Jesus Christ…He is no fool, He is no fool.” It wasn’t the first time I’d preached this sermon in my young life. No, way back in elementary school when they allowed students to lead the weekly chapel service, I eagerly volunteered. Speaking from Jeremiah 1:4-5, I talked about the fact that God has a plan and a purpose—a calling for every believer. We aren’t just meant to be born, to live as we please, do what we want in a pursuit of happiness, and then go to Heaven. Instead, God designed us for a purpose. We all have a calling that He wants us to fulfill. Still, the choice remains with each of us whether or not we will walk in our calling. Looking back, it’s funny how passionately I have believed this truth all of my life. Fast forward a few decades, a few pounds, a few wrinkles, and a few gray hairs later, and I still believe it with all of my heart. As Jamie and I were seeking God and preparing for 2020….thinking of Mantour themes and the theme for his new book….once again, we both felt this message burning in our spirits. Just like years ago when I had to share at my graduation, we both knew the Holy Spirit had given us this message to share with the body of Christ. As a result, together we wrote, “Whatever It Takes: Liivng a Life Worthy of Your Calling.” (A men’s and women’s edition!) The message is simple: There is so much more to Christianity and following Jesus than just saying a sinner’s prayer, going to church, and waiting to go to Heaven. Instead, just like Jesus called the twelve disciples to leave their lives behind and “Follow Him” into God’s plan for their lives, there is a call on the life of every believer to walk in God’s plan and purpose for their lives. Obviously, the specifics of this are different for each of us as God has given us all unique callings. And yet, the principles surrounding our calling are universal. --We all have a calling. --It is our responsibility to develop a personal relationship with Jesus so that we can hear God’s voice give us direction for our lives. --When we hear God’s call say, “This is the road I have for you” we all have the responsibility to follow and do whatever it takes to walk in that calling. That is where the challenge often arises. Because it’s amazing to hear that like Jeremiah and the twelve disciples, God has a plan and purpose for our lives. The part that so many believers struggle with is accepting the responsibilities that accompany their calling. The sad truth is that too many people want what they want, when they want it, the way that they want it. They’d rather sacrifice walking in God’s call than give up the life they believe they want and need. As I heard one of my favorite speakers say “This is exactly why so many Christians are living beneath their calling rather than experiencing all that God has for them in life.” And yet, there is another choice. It’s the choice I pray you will make throughout 2020 and years ahead. Choose to do whatever it takes to live a life worthy of your calling. How do we do this? --Choose to believe that God has placed a unique calling on your life that only you can fulfill. --Choose to spend time with Jesus, developing a personal relationship with Him, so that you can hear His voice leading you in that calling and saying, “This is this the way I want you to go.” --Choose to walk in obedience as you hear God’s voice. Whether it be during your time of prayer and Bible reading, as you hear a sermon, or when you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, obedience is key to walking in your calling. Most of all, understand that this concept doesn’t just apply to the large, determining choices in our lives, but instead, realize that truly walking in our God-given calling involves every area of our lives—large and small, monumental or seemingly insignificant. Every day—in each and every way—as believers, we are called to live a life worthy of our calling. We are called to choose, “Will I seek and follow God’s will for my life or go my own way?” Will you choose to wholeheartedly do whatever it takes to walk in God’s calling for your life? Will you accept the responsibilities that come with that calling? It is my hope and prayer that as we begin a new year, you will choose to walk in all that God has for you in life. That you won’t spend one more day living beneath your calling, but like Jim Elliot, you will choose to begin living your life for the greater purpose of fulfilling your God-given calling—-whatever it takes.