If you characterized the heart of the great leaders of the faith, the Hebrews 11 list for example, what do they have in common? Perhaps you could say it this way, personally, as a question:
Will I go wherever, to work with whomever, whenever, doing whatever God asks, regardless of the consequences?
Abraham could answer, “yes” to that one; so could Joseph and Noah and Elijah and many others. What about us? Take a moment and answer these questions as honestly as possible.
Are we willing to move and go wherever God wants us to go?
Think about that. Are we willing to quit the current job? Sell the house? Move the family? What if it were a situation like Abram's and we're not sure what the destination is yet? Could we give notice and prepare to leave in the way that he did?
Are we willing to work with whomever God wants us to work?
It might not involve speaking at a conference with lights and an enthusiastic crowd with our name on the screen. It might involve people we don't like, that we might have some issues with, who come at life in a way that makes no sense and who are hard to empathize with. What if our situation is like Jeremiah's and our entire ministry is standing in the rubble, preaching to a generation who simply will not respond?
Are we willing to go whenever God asks us to go?
God's timing is His own. Are we willing to go now? The possible objections are all but infinite. We don't have our degree yet! Or do we feel like we need the children to get off to college first? What if He calls and we're just not ready? Are we in a place where we could say "yes" in an extravagant way immediately? On the other side of the “whenever” is this: are we willing to wait? Like Joshua, are we willing to show patience for an entire generation and not step into full leadership until we are old?
Are we willing to do whatever God asks you to do, regardless of consequences?
Calling doesn't always make sense at first. It doesn't always make sense in the middle and it can be frustrating and seem like too much to bear at the end. What if our crowning moment of calling was like Jesus ministry on earth? Instead of riding off into the sunset with good things in tow, what if we find ourselves in Gethsemane, facing a price that is just too high to pay? Even if everything in you is screaming, "find another way!”, are you willing to lay down your life if God desires it? Are you willing to kiss Judas on the cheek? Are you willing to pay the ultimate price for His plan?
Those are hard questions. They are. Even the most committed of us will hesitate on one or all of them if we're being honest. Our tendency is to start asking questions of our own. Could we wait a year to get ready? Are there vacation days? What about housing: is there good housing there? How are the schools for our children? Is there a retirement plan? We'll have friends won't we? If I pay this price, I'll see amazing things happening immediately right?
The even harder question is this:
How can we expect God to send us and use us if we're not really willing to go?
Do we really believe He can take care of us? Do we really believe if we sacrifice things for Him it will be worth it? Do we trust that God knows what He is doing? Are we willing to surrender control when it comes to the path of our lives?
If we can't say, “yes” in these ways, how can we expect our story to be anything but a story that never really gets told? How can God use us if we lift our comfort above His purpose? Is there a connection between the 99.9% of us that never fully and completely engage and our ability to really say, “yes”?
In some sense, it is our human nature to worry, or to conjure up the worst-case scenario as we consider relinquishing control of the path of our lives. The paradox of calling and the irony of calling are that (as C.S. Lewis said) when we pour out our hearts completely, we find ourselves full and our needs met.
It is fair to say that provision will probably not come in the way we expected. But at the end of the day, it will be so much better than our dreams of security and safe passage. Following the “yes” into calling will not be an easy path. It will not be a comfortable path – but it will be a path filled with joy that you will never regret when your story is told in full.
If you only take one thing away from this book, let it be this: The price of admission for living a life of abundance on mission with God, using our unique, divine gifting is a fully surrendered heart. Submission to his Lordship and belief in his saving grace gains you access to eternal life. But it's an even deeper surrender that gives us the abundant life He promises.