CALLED: To Believe the Impossible

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July 17, 2014

A NOTE FROM ME: This week I’m headed to the Rocky Mountains to take my son trout fishing for his 14th birthday. The Daily Text this week will come from entries in my book, CALLED?! Following a Life Filled with the Possible (which is how I got started writing the Daily Text in the first place). As a further gift to you, our Daily Text readers, I want to give you a Digital Edition of the entire book.

This gift will be available all week for anyone who visits the site. Take the opportunity to encourage and family and friends to come over for a visit. We can’t promise coffee, but we will give them a book to go with it. Get Your Book Here.

Genesis 17:1-8

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When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.

CONSIDER THIS

If, for some reason, you thought you were too old to say “yes” to God’s calling on your life, think again. At 99 Abram is just getting started. The revelation of God progresses as Abram processes. By now God made several massive promises despite Abram’s several epic fails. Note how exalted Divinity chooses to work with fallen humanity. It’s a major theme of calling. God relentlessly pursues those he calls. And the God who calls makes audacious promises. God promises to make a 99-year-old, childless man the father of many nations. God promises to give a man living in a tent in a foreign land the whole country. God enters into a covenant with Abram, and as a sign of it, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham.

This is not some kind of vocational transaction or job description or to-do list. In fact, God promises to do the whole thing. “I have made. . .. I will make. . . . I will make. . . . I will establish. . . . I will give. . . . I will be.” God doesn’t give Abraham a job. He tells him who he is. The only thing remotely resembling a job are these three words, “You will be.”

accept-identityThe calling of  God is about an identity long before it becomes a vocation. The truth? Until we accept the gift of our identity from the God who made us, we will burn ourselves out working to prove we are actually somebody. In the words of the Babylonian tower builders, “Let us make a name for ourselves.” Burnout doesn’t come from working too hard. It comes from not knowing who you are.

John Wesley captured this critical idea of identity before vocation in his celebrated prayer below. He locates his work in ministry between these identifiers, “I am thine and thou art mine.”

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

–Book of Offices of the British Methodist Church, “John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer” 1936.JOURNAL: Which of the lines in this covenant prayer are most difficult for you to pray? Where are the rubs? Wrestle with these words in prayer. Memorize them so you can work with them in your spirit at all times. This is indeed one of the great practices of the “called.

Excerpts this week are taken from my book, CALLED: Following a Life Filled with the Possible. I’d like to give you a free copy — see the invitation at the top of today’s post.

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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