By Rev Angela C
THERE are times when we are not sure if our life is amounting to much at all. We had once been close to the Lord but that seems almost a lifetime ago. We wonder if there is any point in trying to swim against the social tide. The enemy really does know where we are most vulnerable.
Throughout the pages of Holy Scripture there are reminders that the anointed life will bear fruit at some time for someone. Obedience to God’s call is celebrated as a costly but cost-effective response. The blessings of God are unmatchable.
When we doubt the value of our best efforts, let us remember that the one who calls also equips, who equips also directs, and who directs also evaluates the effectiveness of the action. God’s approval is more related to our faithfulness than to measurable results. Only God can see the whole picture or plan.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of his call to be a prophet in this manner: “The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.” (Is. 49: 1). He describes the call of the Suffering Servant as: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth” (Is. 49:6).
When this prophecy is fulfilled in the incarnation (taking on flesh) of Jesus Christ, we hear John the Baptiser, another great prophet, stating: “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him” (John 1: 32).
This call is for apostles also: “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” (1 Cor. 1:1), but the best news of all is that it is for each one of us as well: “To the church that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours (1 Cor. 1:3)…God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9).
The next stage is the equipping that takes place in secret and is revealed when the time is right: “He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me, he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away” (Is. 49: 2).
The prophet is able to reach a distant target with words which pierce the heart as if with a sword. We all receive grace and spiritual gifts suited to our particular tasks: “The grace of God has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind…that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1: 4-8).
In spite of all this, we will experience times of near despair as the prophet Isaiah relates: “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God” (Is. 40: 4). God’s word still stands, however, “you are my servant, in whom I will be glorified” (Is. 40: 3).
Even if we feel discouraged and despondent that we are not appearing to accomplish our goals for the work of the Lord, it is our faithful obedience to persevere that brings God the highest glory.
This is why we struggle, suffer, trust, believe, obey, rejoice, repent, witness, worship, work for the Lord, to give God glory. The prayer of the church is for us to be a people illumined by God’s Word and Sacraments who “shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that He may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to ends of the earth” (Anglican Prayer Book). Through it all, God is faithful.