You Called? – Pastor Donna Doutt – 2/3/19
Have you ever experienced a time when you thought you needed to accomplish something…to do something…and the pull to do it was so strong you might lie awake half the night planning or dreaming on how to make it happen? You can’t shake the idea or the need. It’s pulling you toward something that can change your life or those lives of the people around you. In your mind, you know you MUST do this thing, or you’ll never be able to rest.
In clergy-world, we refer to that emotional pull as “being called.” Clergy becomes pastors because they feel “called”…called by God to serve. Being called can be a scary thing; especially when you know that call is coming from God.
Our Bible is full of stories of people called by God. Moses saw the burning bush and heard the voice of God. God was commanding Moses to go and serve, and Moses argued at every turn, imploring God to send someone else.
Ezekial heard the voice of God. God said, “Son of man, stand up. I have something to say to you.” And Ezekial describes it like this: 2 The moment I heard the voice, the Spirit entered me and put me on my feet. As he spoke to me, I listened. Doesn’t that give you goose bumps?
Isaiah saw angels and heard the voice of God calling him to serve. Unsure of his ability to fulfill God’s need, an angel touched a hot coal to his lips to make him fluent in his teaching and prophesying.
Can you imagine in today’s world if we said God spoke to us? The powers that be would medicate that notion out of our heads, or lock us up!
In today’s scripture, we have a young Jeremiah. Some scholars theorize he may have been as young as 13. That’s the age at which Jewish traditions
says boys can start accepting religious responsibilities.
Jeremiah starts his book by reporting that God called him to be a prophet, and Jeremiah tried to talk God out of it. Jeremiah has good reason for trying to get out of this divine appointment. Prophecy at this moment in history is a thankless job. Prophets mostly deliver bad news. Jeremiah accepts the call to prophesy and tells the people that Judah is doomed as Israel was. Invasion. Decimation. Exile. That’s his message. But he also brings some good news too: God will restore the nation and the Jews will get a second chance.
Jonah, Gideon, Isaiah, Ezekial, Moses. All of these who God called were hesitant; not knowing if they had what it takes to fulfill God’s assignments for them. The prophet Jeremiah speaks to something that many of us know: we do not choose God; God somehow mysteriously… and even against our… will chooses us.
And then we go into the gospels where we hear stories of Jesus asking the disciples to follow him. As time proved, many of those disciples followed that call from Jesus, and at the end of the day were martyred for accepting that call. Answering a call is a scary thing.
All who serve Christ have felt that pull. I wouldn’t be honest if I told you that I followed the call to ministry with no fear. On my first trip to Rwanda, I had the proverbial angel vs devil sitting on my shoulder argument. On one side, I heard the mental arguments that I was too old, not “churched” enough, had little to offer…I wasn’t a teacher, a health care provider, a “real” minister. I was a pure and simple lay person. I was your ordinary, average person in the pew.
However, I felt that pull. That angel sitting on my other shoulder whispering to me that God would provide the courage and whatever I might need to meet that call to serve in mission. My devilish arguments against the call were nothing compared to the angel on my shoulder. I now know that feeling inadequate or unworthy goes with the territory of saying yes to a call of service.
And a call to service is something different for everyone. Answering a call from God doesn’t necessarily mean you’re called to stand in this pulpit or teach Sunday School or Bible study. It can mean you accepted a call to work in the church office, or serve on a committee, or work with our missional outreach in the neighborhood, or even something as simple as doing the laundry for our day care center, or planting flowers around our church. We all have gifts to offer. Everyone of you has something that you do well in your daily life that could be an asset to answering a call at this church.
You notice that Jeremiah was so desperate to not accept the call that he tried to the Moses-style of denial, “I don’t know how to speak.”
I’m confident that many of you sitting here today, heard an announcement that you felt was targeted to you. Or perhaps you heard something in the Sunday sermon that resonated, and kept you awake at night. You might have felt the pull to step up and say, “Here I am!” but you might have let that devil on your shoulder override the angel on the other.
George H. Martin, a professor of missional education and outreach, writes in Feasting on the Word that, “Making excuses really is not new. It goes all the way back to Adam and Eve and continues today. ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that. I’m just a layperson. I never went to seminary. i don’t have very much to give. I’m not very good with kids. I’m too new to this church to help much.’ We sound like Jeremiah all over again, even though the stakes for him were enormous.”
How many of you pray every day or at least a few times a week? Don’t be embarrassed! Remember that old hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus?”
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
YOU, my dear ones, are calling on God to help you! When you call on Him to help you, you expect an answer, a response, a healing. You expect some action! You call…He answers! He doesn’t listen to the devil on his left shoulder and the angel on the right. He answers your call without flinching.
So why would God expect any less from you? When He calls YOU, He expects an answer from you too!
No matter what YOUR argument for denying God’s call, He knows your capabilities.
Remember in our scripture, God tells Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Even before Jeremiah was formed in the womb, he was known by God, consecrated and appointed “a prophet to the nations.” This was his destiny.
God has created a destiny for you too. When you were formed in the womb, your destiny for your service to God was a gift to you from birth. But here’s the thing….you have to listen for the call. THE CALL!
The call to be on a committee, the call to attend the meetings that are pertinent to the life of this church, the call to be an active member of this house of God, the call to financially support this house of God with your tithes and gifts. Do you get it? Someone is calling you!
YOU called? Yes, here I am. I’m ready to serve you.
You’ve known me from the womb, and you know what I can do.
How can I help you?
Yes, I’m ready.
Yes, I will.
Yes I can.
I will serve this house of worship, this place where we come to honor and praise YOU!
Just let me know what you need from me. You won’t get any argument from me. I’m here for you.
I’ll get right on it!
Thanks for calling God.
By the way God…I love you. – Bye-bye!
 George H. Martin, Feasting on the Word, Year C, vol. 1, p. 292
 Joseph M. Scriven. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.” United Methodist Publishing House. 1989.