Finding Calcutta: How do I get there? How should I prepare for the journey?

With regard to the image of journey, this picture from Kami’s visit to the villages of northern India sticks in my mind. For posts on Kami’s travels visit http://blog.emergingscholars.org/author/kami/.

How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints,  for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out  for the living God. . . . Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. . . . Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84).

Introduction – Praying the words of the psalmist

Psalm 84 reflects upon a life’s journey. Take a moment to prayerfully consider:

  • Throughout his/her travels, the psalmist’s focus remains on the end of the journey  – a place of delights for which the traveler has passionate longing. Do you delight in and yearn for the LORD, the Kingdom of God, the new heavens/new earth?
  • This compelling vision of where we want to go needs to impact how we choose to travel and where we go along the way.  We serve God. What we do must be pleasing to Him, satisfy Him.
  • How do you recognize, articulate, and carry out the relationship of Christian calling for vocation with your life’s journey in Christ?  Who holds you accountable in the daily grind across the various “spheres” through which you travel?
  • “[T]here is no calling without the Caller” (Os Guinness. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. Thomas Nelson. 1998, ix).


Scriptural Principles

  • Several key points in Jesus’ ministry:
    • Confirmation
      • After baptism by John the Baptist and full with the Spirit, Jesus enters the wilderness under the shadow of the wings of God the Father* to face temptation by the devil. Response to the temptation to worship the devil and thereby to receive immediate, easy visible power — without the labors of ministry and facing/enduring death itself.
        • Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only (Luke 4:8, Deut. 6:13).
        • *Note: my insertion of imagery based on readings in the psalms. I’m coming to find this image particularly powerful when facing trials in the home and on the campus, more on this topic in a future post.
    • Affirmation
      • Reading of scripture at worship (Luke 4:14-30). Through the Father’s design, the Word affirmed Jesus the Christ (the Word) when he read Isaiah 61:1,2 (see Septuagint); Isaiah 58:6. Embracing the truth of the Father’s affirmation through Scripture counts more to Jesus than the rejection of his home town.
      • The conversation on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36).
    • Commitment through action – doing the Father’s will.
      • Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane, Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done (Luke 22:42). Then to the arrest . . . trial . . . beating . . . crucifixion . . . death . . . and RESURRECTION! To God be the glory!
  • The Kingdom of God comes first, seek it with a passion (and without fear) in all you do (Matthew 6:32-34).
  • Count the costs and then don’t turn back.
    • In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9:18-27), “Take up your cross and carry it” comes right after Peter’s affirmation of Jesus as the Christ/Messiah and Jesus’ statement of his coming death. The statement is followed by an affirmation of the coming of the nearness of the Kingdom of God and the conversation on the Mount of Transfiguration.
  • Use your spiritual gifts and God-given abilities.
    • What has God shown you about your life and what you should do in vocation?
  • The calling is not just to the individual; Christ calls the church.
  • Continue to seek God’s guidance even when you have found your calling.
  • Our calling is an expression of God’s will.

Hurdling outside Memorial Gym, Pomona College. Claremont Colleges Photo Archive. Photo posted at http://flic.kr/p/8GJY47.

Hurdles on the Journey

  • Looking inward, focusing on self (exclusively) rather than looking to God and to our brothers and sisters. The unhealthy separation of work from our calling by God.
  • Doing good work is the goal – satisfaction in work is the goal – excelling beyond the performance of others is the goal – reaping financial benefits from work is the goal – giving service to others through work. These are all about “self,” not service of our Lord.
  • A corollary to any of the above; losing the focus of your faith and your calling. The admonition is to keep your eye on the journey’s end, eternity with the One who has called us.
  • In the chapter entitled A Pencil in God’s Hands, Mary Poplin writes,

I thought of how differently I frame my life than these sisters even though I am a Christian. I forget that God wants to make his home with me, direct my steps, and give me his power to do his will. I often think I chose my work by my good sense and careful control of circumstances, rather than that God formed me for specific purposes. I flatter myself that it is out of my own goodness that I do things for others. Nevertheless, when I am most honest, I confess that many of the “good” things I do are really as much or more for me than for those to whom they are given.  I find it hard to live out what the Apostle Paul said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

Yet Mother’s life reveals that the more yielded we are to God, the more clearly we will grasp our calling (Finding Calcutta: What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service. InterVarsity Press. 2008, 33).

Next post in seriesFinding Calcutta: Prayer and Our Calling

“Finding Calcutta” cover

Note: Genesis of the series:  You’ll notice the influence of  Head, Heart & Hands, Os Guiness’ “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life,” and “Why Christian Apologetics?”* As with the Head, Heart & Hands series, the material is drawn from an adult elective at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (EBIC) facilitated by Kevin Milligan in coordination with the author speaking for our Christian Scholar Series (an EBIC-ESN partnership). In Spring 2011, Mary Poplin spoke in Pittsburgh, South Central PA, and Baltimore as part of an ESN partnership with Undergraduate Ministry and Graduate & Faculty Ministry. To God be the glory!

*To skim or not to skim: A ‘case’ study of “Christian Apologetics” and Why Christian Apologetics – Hell on  Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for the Biblical Faith (IVP. 2011). More posts on topic coming.

 

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Tom Grosh IV

Enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa, four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he hosts the Christian Scholar Series), on campus as part of InterVarsity Graduate & Faculty Ministry (serving fellowships such as the Christian Medical Society/CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine), online as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network, in the culture at large, and in God's creation.

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