“Grandmom” has taken on new meaning for me. My firstborn’s firstborn is learning to talk and now can utter this magic word. Magic, because it addresses ME! The ‘me’ who was once ‘destined’ to be a single woman missionary and Bible translator…the ‘me’ who never dreamed of having kids, let alone grandkids, who never babysat or dared to hold a baby lest it cry and never dreamed of finding the man who would change my destiny!
From time to time you hear a person say they’ve ‘missed their calling’. They find themselves in a future they hadn’t seen coming with a job description they feel ill-prepared for. Or they’re looking over the neighbor’s fence, so to speak, and envying his lot. Or maybe the ‘good old days’, the leeks and garlic of Egypt suddenly seem more appealing than the present wilderness (or bewildered-ness?!).
Sometimes I feel like that. And sometimes I reflect on how different life might have been. But I am SO glad I do not hold the Master Plan. The ‘calling’ that is mine I might have missed–this calling that at once delights me and intimidates me…
I’ve been pondering destiny this week. Perhaps it’s a side-effect of my summer reading project, a novel entitled: A Prayer for Owen Meany.* Here was a kid that believed in destiny. He set his face like flint to face what he believed his own destiny, no matter how fearful. He believed his hands were God’s and God would accomplish His purposes through his life. There are no ‘accidents’. Come what may, it was his destiny and he would accept it as such. He had faith in a sovereign God. Despite what could be viewed as tragedy woven through the course of his life and finishing him off at a young age, he dies clearly a hero. He ‘finishes his course’ confident that he has fulfilled his God-ordained destiny. There is triumph in spite of all the story’s sadness.
In contrast to Owen Meany is the attitude of his life-long friend who struggles to believe that anything he might decide to do would matter. He is forever indecisive, waiting to see what will happen next… He feels life happens by chance and ‘luck’. The book is in fact his story of coming to faith, because of Owen Meany. All five-hundred plus pages went down this past week on our drive to visit the grandbabies…and have been stirred into my thoughts on calling and destiny…
I guess we are at a time in life where it is not altogether clear where we are headed or what is next. Once-upon-a-time it was quite straightforward—school, college, marriage, special training for missions, babies, missions, furlough travel, homeschooling…but now all that is ‘history’ as they say and we are nearing half-a-century of antiquity ourselves. What’s next? Have I made my ‘mark’ on the world? Have I walked in all those ‘good works’ prepared for me from the foundation of the world? (Eph. 2:10) Is the way I walk ‘worthy of my calling’? (Eph.4:1) Is the fruit of my life fruit that ‘will remain’?(Jn.15:16)
If you’ve read my mind here for long, you know I ask more questions than I find answers for, and today’s are no exception. I sat on a slope laden with pine-needles this morning, inhaling the essence of wild rose and hot pine, watching an osprey soar to alight on a towering pine tree, listening to the roar of the river rushing white far below… and reading in Isaiah. Big picture words. Strength-giving words. Words of destiny and assurance. And pondering what it means to live life without a blue-print, yet in the personal care of the Designer of Heaven and Earth!
I share my findings with you:
“I, I am He who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, … and have forgotten the LORD, your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, when he sets himself to destroy?” (Is.51:12,13)
“I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the LORD of hosts is His name. And I have put my words in your mouth and covered you in the shadow of my hand,…saying to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” (Is.51:15,16)
“Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments… Your God reigns!” (Is.52:1,7) (The JOY of the Lord is your strength; you are clothed in His righteousness)
“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced…
For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called. For the LORD has called you…” (Is.54:4,5)
“In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear;…If anyone stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you…no weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed…this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication (righteousness) from me, declares the Lord.” (Is.54:14-17)
“…for I will contend with those who contend with you, and I will save your children.” (Is.49:25)
“But the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced;…Behold, the Lord GOD helps me; who will declare me guilty?” (Is. 50:7-9)
I love Isaiah. His writing is so powerful and comforting. But speaking of destinies… I wonder how he viewed his?! He was willing to go and preach to the people of Israel but was told ahead of time that they would not listen and his words would seem to be in vain. (Is.6) Still He was chosen to speak and spend His life pleading with Israel to listen to God’s words… He died not seeing the fruit of his life, perhaps little knowing that he would give to the world the prophecies concerning Christ and bring hope to countless generations!
Who am I to question my calling and wonder about the worth of my destiny? It is God who is at work in me, giving both “the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Phil.2:13) He has the blueprint. He is the builder. I can trust Him with the process.
And when I wonder if I am ‘up to it’, this GRAND calling, I read again Solomon’s words:
“Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, yet I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in…So give Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (I Kings 3:7-9) I am reminded of my source and why I’m called to pray without ceasing! My competence or incompetence is not the issue. Even Paul acknowledged this:
“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” (II Cor.3:5)
This God who calls the foolish and the weak (I Cor. 1:26ff) to show off His power is fully able to accomplish what concerns me.
I have gradually been making my way through a little book with yellowing pages called: The Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas (Zondervan,1961). Its emphasis is on the untapped nature of the life that is ours because we are in Christ, created in Him to be ‘the human vehicle of the divine life, inhabited by God for God.’ ‘What you are is totally irrelevant…if only you will recognize the principle that it is God that works in you…’ Citing the lives of such as Jacob and David and Elijah and Isaiah, he states that ‘it is in the school of destitution—the bitter school of self-discovery—that finally you graduate into usefulness, when at last you discover the total bankruptcy of what you are apart from what God is!’ (63) He suggests that while living in the past tense of remembering what the Lord has done, or the future tense of His soon coming, ‘we forget that He is the eternal I AM, the eternal present tense, adequate right now for every need!’
I appreciated his thoughts today regarding vocation. Referring to Moses’ life he remarks that it is not man’s ability but his availability that qualifies a man for God. Our commitment isn’t to a need or a job so much as it is to God. He is looking for restful availability and a prompt response to His every impulse. God calls me to ‘Be still, and know that I am God’. In other words, ‘quit the panic! Just let God be God!’ These are all reminders that I need as I reflect on my ‘job description’. In another chapter on our completeness in Christ, Ian Thomas suggests: ‘Relate everything, moment by moment as it arises, to the adequacy of what he is in you, and assume that His adequacy will be operative…” (Thomas,16). Boy! I sure want to get the hang of that!
How GRAND this Mom shall be is only limited by how yielded she is to the God who is her strength. What place she will have in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives is then subject to her Designer’s specifications. I find comfort in knowing I’m not left to my own resources; I love these words in Hosea: “I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me.” (14:8)
So let the (grand)children come!
“For the LORD comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.” (Is.51:3)
And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all that you undertake. Deut.12:18
*By way of disclaimer, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (William Morrow and Co., 1989) is not a ‘Christian’ book per say, and being a ‘coming-of-age’ novel centered around two boys’ lives, contains language, sex and some violence, but a great deal also to chew on regarding faith, religion, and God’s sovereignty. It is set in the era of the Vietnam War, so expect also controversial American politics. That being said, it is an unforgettable and very skillfully written story. (For a fuller review see my book review blog at: http://thestackofdawn.blogspot.com/2011/07/prayer-for-owen-meany.html )