Saturday, January 24, 2015

Notes from Seminary (6): The Ocean Is Calling

 Lately I have been considering where exactly I am called to serve? The easy answer is that I have moved to Guatemala, and so this is where I am called to serve. But it's really not that simple, is it? What if I go to purchase vegetables in the farmer's market. Am I not called to serve there? What if I take my family in to the city to view a movie? Am I not called to serve there? 
Recently we tried to get away for an afternoon. We spent 5 hours on the road to enjoy 3 hours at the beach on the Pacific coast of Guatemala. After arrival, I was hot and tired... frustrated and slightly nauseous from the drive. I sat underneath an umbrella that had been woven by the locals from palm branches. My thought was to read from a book (Dr. Agee's most recent novel) and just wind-down for a few minutes so I could then go enjoy the ocean. I never made it to the water. A series of 3 people sat down and began to have conversations with me, all about the nature of God and our experience in relating to others. 
I got back into the van and realized that I had missed my narrow window to enjoy the beach. It's not that far, but our work does not allow us to get away more than a couple of times a year. I began to feel sorry for myself, and frustrated that I hadn't just pushed away and enjoyed the water. We all deserve that for ourselves right? 
It was at that moment that I realized the answer. No, we don't. What we deserve is separation from God. What we deserve is death. Instead, what I received was an incredible day of conversation beachside, listening to the surf, and feeling the salty breeze blow my hair. I had to repent and thank God for this incredible experience. God gives so much more than what we deserve. 
Where are we called? The answer is just "yes." That's where you're called. Right where you are. And so, our ethics are of vital importance. We don't get to just clean up and spit-shine ourselves behind a pulpit. We aren't just pastors when we're at the church. Being a pastor doesn't even necessitate that I am employed by a church. I don't even see myself primarily as pastor. I reject the title of missionary. I might work at a school, fulfilling the role of principal, but these roles no more define me than sitting under that palm umbrella made me a surfer.
Conversely, we don't have to get in the water to be immersed in our calling.  
Writing this made me thing of a Seinfeld episode, "George, the ocean is calling. They're running out of shrimp." In our calling, we can be assured that the supply will never run out. The Holy Spirit knows your needs and communicates them to the Father, before you are even aware of the shortcoming (Rom 8:26).

And thank goodness... because we sure don't always know what's best for ourselves!

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