Following God's call can be one of the most inconvenient, difficult things we could ever do. It is often fraught with twists and turns, peril and struggle. When my first husband was called to pastor a church in northeast Ohio, a struggling congregation of older adults, we learned how difficult following God's call to ministry could be.This small, aging group of saints was in the single digits when my husband did pulpit supply one Sunday. Eleven people showed up the next time he preached after we prayed about this church, a sign that we needed to go there. We found ourselves in financial distress several times and utter exhaustion as a bi-vocational pastor's family. It definitely wasn't what we expected.
Our ministry lasted nine years there. We were often told we must have made a mistake because God would never put us in such a position. But He did. We questioned our call to minister at that church, but were shown over and over that we were in the right place at the right time. In fact, He provided for our needs miraculously over and over. He gave us what we needed, not always what we wanted. The work we were to do was to rebuild their faith, not grow the physical church. This ministry was inconveniently difficult by the world's view, but important from a Kingdom perspective. Following God's call is inconvenient in ways we could never imagine.
Main Passage: Galatians 6:6-10
Focus Verse: Galatians 6:9 NKJV
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart"
The birth and early years of Jesus were rife with complications. Bearing and raising the Messiah was very inconvenient for Mary and Joseph in so many ways. It was challenging for others as well. Look to see what I mean:
Joseph was about to "divorce" his fiancee' because of the embarrassing, "sinful" state she was in. Can you imagine what it would be like for him? Whispers of scandal were probably on the lips of the people in his neighborhood. Feelings of betrayal. He was certainly brokenhearted. But God told him to take her as his wife anyway because she was carrying God's child. She hadn't been unfaithful. God had a call on Joseph' life.
Mary looked like a "loose" woman whose sin caught up with her. The rumor mill was likely swirling around the well in the town square, "Did you know Mary is pregnant? Oh, my! She could get stoned at the city gate, you know!" Mary knew Whose Baby she was carrying. Thankfully, she wasn't stoned at the gate. God had a call on Mary's life.
She had to ride a donkey for a few days when she was almost ready to give birth. She didn't even get to have her baby at home in her own bed, but on straw in a stable. That couldn't have been a comfortable ride, but they did it and fulfilled the prophecy of the Messiah being born in Bethlehem without even knowing what all was happening. They were about to see God work through them in an amazing way, much grander than any other miracle ever done. They simply needed to obey.
They had to run from the government to protect their Baby- The King of Kings, Lord of Lords. A few years later, they were finally able to move home to Nazareth. Can you imagine being away from your real home temporarily knowing you couldn't take your little boy home to show relatives how big He's grown? Not everyone is on board with the Big Plan.
Even the Wise Men were inconvenienced by the evil King Herod because they needed to take a different route home. It would have been easier to go back the same way they came, but they didn't dare or the Messiah would be killed long before His time. God had a purpose for them to see the Messiah.
Feeling put out and ready to give up following the call God has placed on your life because nothing seems to be "lining up" perfectly? Look at the examples in the Christmas story, Jesus' ministry, and the Apostle Paul. Jesus went back to His own hometown, was rejected by them, and almost thrown over a cliff ( Mark 6:1-6. Luke 4:16-31). He also had to withdraw to lonely places because of the people who followed Him everywhere, and those who refused to stay quiet when He told them to (Matthew 12:14-17; Mark 3:6-12). Paul was beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead, but was the instrument God used to begin the early church and wrote the 13 epistles (letters) to the churches he started which we have in our Bibles today (2 Corinthians 11:12-33). Paul's writings influence our lives long after his death. Who knows what God wants to do through us? He will reveal it in due time.
Feeling put out by people and circumstances in your call to ministry? Don't be. Ministry is inconvenient. It gets in the way of things we want to do. It gets in the way of what the world thinks life should be. Not everyone will want to hear the message you have to give. There will be opposition. Ministry is tough. If you are running into difficulties doing what God has called you to do, you are probably right where He wants you to be, when He wants you to be there. Don't give up. The Holy Spirit will guide, lead,and direct you. The Lord will go before you making a way when the way seems impossible. Following His call is the best thing you could ever do. You are not in this alone.
Image from www.careforpastors.org.
May God bless you!