When God calls us the whole picture of our tasks rarely (never?) opens full-size right away.

CONFESSIONFor me the picture stays in my mind that God’s call to work was in a specific place with a specific people, culture and language. The intervention of both human and demonic forces terminated the function of that call, but God’s call never terminated, remaining in my soul.

So I had a call of God which could not be fulfilled. That has caused confusion, frustration and exasperation in me. In those around me it has induced ridicule, condemnation and contempt. The circle of those who appreciate what happened is very small indeed. Some days that beats me down.

In many ways and from many sources I have searched for meaning in this. You see, it is not God I doubt. Jesus and I remain very close friends. What’s more, where I am also represents God’s will (though as Plan B, as I call it, though I have endured much scorn for terming my position that way). So I have not left the closeness of God, just am in a detour of call or alternate reality, as my science fiction bent would describe it.

Since my eyes opened to my gift and function a few years ago I keep going back to the prophet Jeremiah. I did it again today, and this time these words jumped out at me:

“ ‘Brace yourself, Jeremiah!
Stand up, and say to them whatever I tell you to say.
Don’t be terrified in their presence,
or I will make you {even more} terrified in their presence.
Today I have made you like a fortified city,
an iron pillar, and a bronze wall.
You will be able to stand up to the whole land.
You will be able to stand up to Judah’s kings,
its officials, its priests, and {all} the common people.
They will fight you, but they will not defeat you.
I am with you, and I will rescue you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:17-19 God’s Word).

"Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Je...

“Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem” by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two things strike me: Jeremiah’s call included the prediction of persecution which must not deter the prophet from doing the work; and that the enemies to the truth will not defeat Jeremiah.

Yet, if you know the story, you know they did stop Jeremiah, including kidnapping him to Egypt as spiritual torture, for his message was that Israel must not go to Egypt for help. I think people skip over how devastating that would be to Jeremiah, which may explain his nickname as the “Lamenting Prophet”.

So if having his mission ended did not mean defeat, what goes on here?

For me, it means Plan B. I have no other explanation for being separated from the call of God to mission, and the peace I sense in the presence of Creator doing what I now do.

Less than a week ago I talked with another pastor who left ministry for a “secular” ministry. What struck me about the story was that in the present ministry a person was healed of cancer. The ex-pastor told me that in years of ministry at one congregation no such miracle had ever taken place! We agreed that the religious definition of our ministry could not be considered the only way to live out God’s call.

I still miss the work I did and the people I served and the culture in my former function. Yet I am not defeated, God says. Without a solid intellectual basis in facts I simply accept what Creator declares.

And that faith gives me peace.

I still pray for those who took away what I had so many years ago, because their sin leaves them in great peril, as Jeremiah records.

For an academic, a thinker, a researcher and an analyst this does not come easily, but thanks to God it comes – most of the time.

I still have no answer.