It takes me a long while to realize that God has no respect for anything I bring Him. All He wants from me is unconditional surrender.
– OSWALD CHAMBERS
This from a man who was convinced in his early days that he was an artist who desired to “strike for the the redemption of the aesthetic kingdom of the soul of man—Music and Art and Poetry, or rather, the proving of Christ’s redemption of it. . . . As far as my limited knowledge goes, our Master and Savior has no representative to “teach, reprove, and exhort,” and an ambition, a longing has seized me and seized me so powerfully that it has convinced me of the need.”
What a valiant project. What a strikingly clear vision. What a good and worthy idea. What a meaningful “use” for a life.
Four years and an overhaul of the soul later, God had called Oswald Chambers to surrender this very “good” passion and simply to preach and teach the gospel.
Calling is something we often wrestle with in self-reflection and maybe even prayer, but it is not complicated.
The surrendered version of Oswald Chambers that emerged after five years of a slow self-death didn’t mention art at all. He said, “Our work as His disciples is to disciple lives until they are wholly yielded to God. One life wholly devoted to God is of more value to God than one hundred lives simply awakened by His Spirit.“
Chambers believed that disciple-making was a requirement of disciples. And in HIs mind, the task had become strikingly simple. Make disciples. The thing is, if you are not fully yielded, you won’t be able to. Something else will direct your decisions and priorities. Only you know what those hindrances are, but if you ask Him, He will reveal it to you. Today I focus on “uncertainty of calling” as a hindrance that is easily surrendered to the Lord.
Allow me to elaborate. Like Chambers, I saw the value in music and the arts. As a songwriter and singer, with a recording contract on my door after college, I turned down a life of platform ahd instead specialized for twenty-five years in academia in how to help facilitate new worship songs, dances, artworks. At the age of 36, I was arrested by grace, and all I could talk about was Jesus. All I could see was His beauty, His value. I couldn’t teach without preaching. I had been working on ideas for building the Kingdom without a HUGE piece of the puzzle! Repentance of my self-life. Something in me just KNEW that God would want to use my love for music and global things for HIM. How useful I would be in that area of my strength! Oh surprise of surprises, He chose to lower me all the way down out of that ivory tower to simply know nothing but Yeshua. Praise God. I would have it no other way.
My Place in this World
In a moment that captured the hearts of believers in my generation, Michael W. Smith penned the words of youthful passion for God: “I’m looking for a reason, roaming through the night to find my place in this world.“
While there is a time to wait on God for direction and clarity, I feel strongly that this sense of “needing to find my calling” has led to purposelessness and aimlessness in the body of Christ and is a strategy of the enemy. So to help us clarify, I have two simple questions.
When is the last time you spent good quality time listening and talking to the Father?
When is the last time you told someone the good news about Yeshua?
Brothers and Sisters. We are not waiting for direction. It has been given. We are not waiting to identify a special destiny in each of us. It has been given. We have been given directions already, clearly in scripture to be a disciple of Yeshua and then disciple the nations teaching them to obey Him, and baptizing as we go, both in water and Spirit. When you understand the simplicity of this, you are free to pursue any kind of job, skill, or place as long as you understand the assignment given you. It is possible that you may be singled out for a specific placement by the Lord (Like King David, or Daniel). But it is important to know that you do not earn those positions (other than by maintaining a heart after the Lord), and instead, you are placed there by God. You worship. Walk led by the Spirit and preach the gospel, baptize, heal the sick, cast out demons, and do the work He is doing!
I believe this idea of waiting for God to tell us what we are “called to do” has created this paralyzing romantic longing and languishing for a special designed position or job for us that will use our special mashups of giftings and fulfill our “purpose” or “calling.” I want to encourage you today that “calling” can be much simpler of a concept than you might have made it out to be. While God has prepared good works for you to accomplish ahead of time, and while He will undoubtedly place you in certain places to serve, I would like to challenge the idea that callings are tied to our personality and proclivities that allow us to market ourselves with a life-long purpose statement or vision. God never promises we will be assigned to one life-long task. The point is following Him in real time and doing what He is doing with a servant’s humility and joyful love every step.
We come so slowly to the realization that WE are more interested in tailor-made “callings” of God than He is, because they help us feel important with a sense of identity. But here’s the thing. God has one calling…and that is to Himself. He is simply interested in us truly being His to the point that we are SO OVERCOME BY HIS LOVE that we will lay down our lives and take up His cross and actually follow Him, walking as He walked, discipling the nations.
That’s everything to Him. We are His. His in loyalty. His in devotion. His in focus and attention. In service. In making disciples. This is worship…to simply BE His and our of that place of perfect love, obeying Him step by step. He calls us to intimacy and from THAT place we get His heart for the nations! God’s calling is to know Him so well that we maintain a posture of absolute surrender and 100% availability to work where He needs us, despite our discomfort. This is our calling, to love Him so entirely and wholly that His desire displaces all of our other desires and preferences, and His desire becomes primary. Our “strategy” is worship and prayer. We go first into the throne room of God by the blood of Yeshua and we minister to Him. True worship in a life consecrated (set apart) and laid down on the altar of love (Romans 12), is the end-goal of every soul on earth.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
A life laid down knows the will of the Father. And we know that full surrender is the ultimate end of every nation tribe and tongue. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Yeshua Hamashiach is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:10-11
So your calling is not a mystery.
Your purpose is not a hidden thing.
Your destiny is not waiting to be revealed.
You are firmly established in purpose as a thankful worshiper at the feet of Yeshua (thankful because you have received so much grace!). EVERYTHING else flows from this place of intimate grace in His presence. If you’ve never been there or experienced this, I question whether or not you really have surrendered fully to God. I am not saying this to shame you or scare you. I am not your judge. But I am encouraging you to think for a minute…how would it change your life to yield to and obey this as the ONE calling common to all believers, to experience Jesus and to make Jesus known? Empty out and be filled and empowered with the Spirit! It’s possible to be totally filled with the love of Messiah and His Spirit so entirely that you genuinely want what He wants.
The only thing that makes people great in the Kingdom of God is to take on the nature of a servant son or daughter, whose life direction is not their own, who comes and goes at their King/Father’s will from a place of love-driven obedience. When God sees this posture in your heart, He pours even more anointing on the sacrifice of a life laid down. We can stop seeking anointing and just seek intimacy with the Father. God’s will is the outworking of His own righteousness and justice, in caring for other like the sick, poor, and lonely. Once we start ministering to Him, we know His heart. We know what His will is…that all people come to know Him by our love and boldness and endure with Him all the way to the end. And when you love someone, you build your life around giving that person what they want.
[He] wants all people to come to salvation. 1 Timothy 2:4
Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. Isaiah 45:22
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness [regarding His return]. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live? Ezekiel 18:23
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Matthew 23:37
In essence…this means God’s heart is the spread of the good news to the ends of the earth in these last days, especially to those who need it most, prisoners, the poor, the hungry, the lonely. IT IS GOOD NEWS!
I can’t tell you how many times I have shared this with professing Christians and they respond by saying that this puts unneeded pressure on them. As if sharing the good news is a “pressure” that I am making to weigh on them. FRIENDS!!! IF you feel this way about the gospel, you probably do not understand it fully. IT IS LIFE TO THOSE WHO ARE PERISHING (1 Cor. 1:18). And we feel it as “pressure”? Surely we can see there is something wrong with this. If sharing the gospel is not flowing naturally for you then you need to ask yourself “Do I really believe the gospel is “Good” news? If so, why is it not pouring out of my lips? What is hindering the flow? Fear? Embarassment? Apathy? Bad theology? Insecurity? Or have I even received all the grace the gospel gives? Do I really know it as good news? Do I really believe that the gospel is life to those who are perishing?
Can you IMAGINE if I asked my daughter to introduce me to her friends and tell them I was preparing a great party for them, but she said I was pressuring her to do it and she didn’t do it (for whatever reason)? Not only would I be really hurt, but I would have to postpone the party, and I may consider just inviting those who were more likely to get excited about it! God is doing just that! He already invited the religious people and they couldn’t be bothered. Well watch out because He is going to invite those who will accept His invitation (Matthew 22:1–14). I am not just talking about the invitation to believe and be saved, I am talking about getting excited about what He is doing. HE IS PLANNING A PARTY! We are the invitation committee! That’s so fun! The worst that can happen is someone says “no” and if they do, they are not rejecting us, but the King! On the other hand, what you have to gain is MANY MANY people saying yes to Yeshua and experiencing abundant healing and life because of YOU!
- Hey excuse me but do you know the whole story about the Jewish Messiah, Jesus (Yeshua)?
- Can I tell you what God has done in my life?
- Can I pray for you? You seem like you have something on your mind.
It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or if you are an extrovert. It doesn’t matter what your personality type is. It doesn’t matter what your educational background is. If you know Jesus and claim to be His disciple, yet do not acknowledge Him, He will not acknowledge you before His Father. (Matthew 10:23-24)
You might say, ‘well why are you assuming everyone has the gift of evangelism?’ I am not! I am assuming that you were evangelized once and so remember the moment you realized you were forgiven for all your sins and free…and I am assuming that you want that for others. How could we not? You just need practice speaking about Him, telling our testimonies, and being prepared to share the hope we have. Many of us WANT to share the gospel but have not practiced telling the story of salvation by yourself. Draw it ten times on a napkin. Bullet point it out. Memorize scriptures that help you tell your testimony. You will find that preparing your heart to share the gospel will make you aware of many opportunities to share EVERY DAY! Remember, the goal is not just a prayer of salvation, but continued conversations that lead to real discipleship, healing, and transformation from death to life.
Listen. There is an appointed time where the fullness of Gentile believers will come in (Romans 11), and then the fullness of Israel will come in, and the end will come like a thief. Believers, we must discern the times and change the way we live accordingly. Though He’s not in a rush, and never late, there’s a harvest day coming, and we want to have the oil of His Spirit when the night is darkest! We must be in His presence in prayer and worship and going out from that place with His heart for people and for the nations, boldly proclaiming the gospel at all costs.
You might say, well I am just not able to give up everything just now. If I truly release it all, then it will all fall apart, or God will take something I really love. Do not be ruled by fear any longer. You can and by God’s enabling you by His Spirit, you will!
The doorway into this, regardless of our complex “come from” is the same for everyone…Repentance. Compartmentalize, withhold parts of yourself from God, and you will remain enslaved to sin, selfish desires, fear of man, and money. It’s interesting that God did not accept the offering of Isaac from Abraham. He did not want a child sacrifice, He wanted Abraham to sacrifice His DESIRES: for a son, for a lineage, and trade His own human ways of solving problems for God’s miraculous way. What unsurrendered attitudes and desires need to be laid on the altar today and consumed by His love?
God I want to give up ________ to you but ____________________ .
No. It’s not enough to want to fully surrender. The thing itself must be done. You must move to a listing out of all the things you are giving up right now in this moment. The move from from wanting to surrender to God to actual surrender mean you move from false religion and good intentions to real confession and repentance, and subsequently…power over sin!
Lord, by your grace, I now surrender my life to you completely. I take my hands off my life, my person, my desires, and all I own and want you take control. Whatever you ask me to lay down, I will lay it down. I will keep surrendering until you have all of me. Lead me at your pace to a full and absolute surrender! Right now I lay down my… (start listing).
This process took me and Oswald Chambers four years to get through. I don’t know if that’s normal, but I am so glad I said yes to surrender. Some of us go under the water and come up suddenly different. Some are later bloomers into the fullness of God’s invitation. And we are always growing at our own pace. God never rushed me, but He always encouraged me to let go of this as soon as I could. As I let go of one thing He would show me another. Until He had it all.
I fully surrendered the ownership of my life to God, including my passions, desires, and projects, to be fully delivered into grace and filled with the Spirit. Now, I sit at His feet in worship and listen to the seed of His Word. I am taught by His Spirit. I hear, accept, and yield fruit! That’s the strategy of the Kingdom. You can’t bear good fruit until you hear, accept and yield fruit of the life and lips that preach and glorify God. You GO because that’s THE project! Do you accept the calling of God to become a disciple? That’s your decision. Only disciple-makers qualify biblically as disciples, themselves (Matthew 28:19). Ours is an actively proclaiming faith, not for the sake of conversion but because we overflow with love for God and others.
If you think I’m crazy or off-based, I’m in good company with other crazy people people like Hudson Taylor, Erik Liddell, George Muller, Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, Amy Carmichael, Billy Graham.
This is a book I used to hand out like candy from my office… If you’ve never read it, it’s worth it.
Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray
And then come join us!…this crazy crew out here working the fields with nothing to offer but Jesus. If you want to know more, message me!
Calling is not complicated. It consecrates us to Yeshua and the good news of the Kingdom. One thing consecration does is strip down our layers of identity, inviting us to take off each layer like the used goods and tattered clothes they are and inviting us to put on His robe of righteousness—moving us from complex, multilayered beings to simply “His.” It doesn’t end up making us self-righteous. It ends up making us childlike.
One layer. One goal. Simply to know Him and make Him known. Simply soil. Simply clay. Simply His.
“For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.” Philippians 3:7-16