Reignited: A Burning Desire to Return to My Fourth Calling

We are told that the Spirit blows where it will, and "so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit" (John 3:8).  We can't control the Spirit.  And contrary to the deeply-rooted American belief that we're in complete control of our lives and destinies, we don't fully control those either.  We get lots of help from the unpredictable, untamable Spirit, who moves us in accord with the will of our heavenly Father.  He doesn't always tell us what He's doing or where He's leading us.  But He does promise us that He is with us always (Matt. 28:20) and working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28).

Over the past year I have wrestled with God, off and on, regarding His future plans for me and my family.  Having misprioritized my callings and, in the process, spread myself too thin, I had to backtrack quite a bit shortly after my first year of full-time pastoral ministry.  My first calling—to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30)—I thought I was fulfilling faithfully, if imperfectly.  In my second and third callings—to love my wife as Christ loved the Church, giving Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25; 1 Pet. 3:7), and to disciple my children (Deut. 6:7-9; Col. 3:21)—I was falling far short.  And since I am instructed by God, speaking through the Apostle Paul as he writes to the young pastor Timothy (1 Tim. 3-7), that serving as a pastor/elder/overseer in the church is predicated upon faithfulness to one's first three callings, I resigned from my pastoral position to enter into an extended time of focus on those more fundamental callings.

During that time, there were moments when I anguished intensely over what God was doing.  I questioned how and why He could have allowed my soul to get so far off track and wondered whether I had simply missed my calling—misheard Him all those times that He seemed to be so clearly drawing me toward a life of vocational service to the world via the Church.  Even as He graciously provided secular employment that brought me a majority of the way to making ends meet for my family, I questioned the wisdom of it all.  Was I to put a huge part of myself up on a shelf or in storage for the rest of my years on earth, or did He have other plans?  At any rate, I remained convinced that vocation was at best my fourth calling and that it would be worth sacrificing for the sake of effectiveness in my first three.

For the last several months, my passions for ministry (there are several!) have been reignited, while tempered by vigilance to shore up the foundation that was nearing completion.  My heart is broken and my soul restless over the state of a world tearing itself to pieces through rebellion against the revealed will of our Creator and Redeemer.  I am moved by compassion for humanity and a relentless hunger for the glory of God to fill every inch of the earth.  It is knowledge of the Truth that sets us free (John 8:31-32) and Christ Himself is that Truth (John 14:6).  My fourth calling is to proclaim and teach the Truth revealed in God's holy Word, so "that all may know that Yahweh is the Lord" (cf. Ezekiel), that Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel and that through faith in Him all may receive eternal life in His name (John 20:31).  It is to announce the eternal reign of God breaking into reality here and now as we learn to live as citizens of His Kingdom.  It is to impart a tangible and breathtaking vision of what the Kingdom is like and to help people learn to live according to it.

This is my fourth calling.  I am already fulfilling it in small ways.  But my heart's desire is to devote myself to it day in and day out, bringing my wife and children along with me every step of the way.  I believe there is need for strong, yet humble, leadership in this area, chiefly in the Church.  And that unpredictable, untamable, relentless Spirit is blowing me ever further in that direction, day by day.  My wife and children are eager for what's in store on this next leg of our adventure together in Christ.  We know it won't be easy and we will have to remain vigilant in the face of the Adversary's cunning snares.  But we have been through the Valley—and by God's grace, we know the way out.

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