A good friend called today, and we were talking about his Skid Row ministry and how it is thriving. I laughed and reminded him that just about 9 months ago he called me because some preacher had encouraged him to buy some property and head for the hills because it was time to leave the cities.
I am so relieved that he didn’t go, but instead stayed with those whom he has been called to minister to. Besides, no way is he cut out for farm life and the staying put that livestock entails. He isn’t cut from that cloth, he’s a natural evangelist and a city boy and his ministry requires that he be a city boy. Can you imagine a city evangelist taking care of cows out in the middle of Texas?
What does it mean to be called “for such a time as this?” As we see in the Book of Esther, God doesn’t always place us in cozy situations where it is easy to keep His laws – sometimes (usually) we are born in exile, into a Torah unfriendly world which we must live in and be a light in the midst of. Sometimes living in exile even means that we aren’t able to live as we desire. Ask Nehemiah, the King’s cupbearer – daily in the midst of a pagan court and yet entrusted with the King’s cup day and night 24/7/365. How about Daniel, Shadrach, Mischach and Abednego – forced to go to Babylonian schools, learning the ways of Babylon and yet coming out wise and learned. I lament how difficult it can be at times and do understand why the observant Jews gather together into communities where it is possible to run their own lives as closely to God’s laws and timetables as possible.
But what of the rest of us who are called to be salt and light in the midst of the world? We, like Esther, were also born for such a time as this and it is error to have our eyes more on survival than on whatever jobs have been given to us to do. My friend started in Hollywood and ended up on Skid row and now that is where he is called to be – ministering in both worlds as only he is equipped to do. What if he buys a plot of land, as some encourage him to do, and goes out to live in the wilderness? Who then ministers to the poor, needy, widowed, orphaned and oppressed on Skid Row? Is one man’s survival worth all of the souls he could impact in the days, months, years or decades left before he might meet his end in the city? What exactly is our calling, to ourselves or to the lost?
Esther said, “If I perish, then I perish.” Esther needed to get out of the fear-based survival mindset and had to become community minded. We all need to be community minded – and community can’t be had with cows, sheep, goats and chickens out on the back forty, unless that is where we are specifically called to be, and some people are. We each need to be doing our jobs when the Master returns, or what excuse will we have when all we can return to Him is the talent we buried?
Dying is not dreadful – dying where we aren’t supposed to be, and while we are not doing what we are called to do is dreadful. Find that thing and do it – whether you are the enduring mom and dad just trying to get your own kids raised right, or, like my friend, ministering on Skid Row or just someone making kid’s videos and writing blogs and books for a few people. Our sphere of influence isn’t important, how many people are hanging on our every word is almost irrelevant. Our safety is unimportant if that safety comes at the cost of the people we were supposed to be there for – but abandoned instead.
God isn’t done reaching out to the people in the cities. Although we are now living in Southern Missouri and many people tell me that this is some sort of protected area, I know that at some point we are headed to Florida, where people tell me I will fall into the Ocean. Oh well, big deal. Survival isn’t the point of our lives in Messiah’s service. Better to die doing what I was called to do than to live where I have become useless and unprofitable.
I was really proud of my friend for not giving in to those who would have him be “just like them.” There will always be people who have made certain decisions who, in order to justify their own choice, will try to recruit and scare everyone else into making that choice (ever have a friend deny Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah? That’s your prime example right there). But if we are truly called, and doing what we are called to do, then we don’t need to recruit anyone to be exactly like we are – we can do our job and equip and encourage others to do theirs. There will never be another me and there will never be another you – you can’t do my job and I can’t do yours, and neither of us can do our jobs if we are not where we are supposed to be.
So take it easy and do what you are being called to do, and go where you are being called to go. There are a bunch of wanna be prophets out there playing a fiddle that you don’t need to dance to.
Don’t be so afraid to die that you miss your calling. You were born for such a time as this.