Today is my birthday! I am having one of those milestone birthdays. As I woke up this morning God hit me with some aging thoughts.
Rebekah was married for twenty years before she bore twins. She wasn’t young I am guessing. Sarah was either 90 or 91 when Isaac was born. Abraham was a 100 years old when he had Isaac. Moses was called at forty. These are just a handful of people God called later on in their years.
God often has a sense of humor when calling people into duty. You would think he would choose those who were much younger, had energy and could sustain the difficulties that come from leading people. I’ve known a few ministers in my life that are second career pastors. So what’s up with calling the older generation into ministry?
I have a few ideas. First, I’d like to explore my own. I am being called (pulled) into ministry very slowly, but deliberately. At the age, I am I should be slowing down, but God has just begun to open doors and keeps me hopping. As I look back on my life I’ve had discovered a few things that just might apply to you too. I truly believe if when I was younger I had a heart for ministry and reaching people like I do today I would have gone into some kind of ministry. I might have had that heart, but what kept me from pursuing the ministry? Was it Satan? No, it was me. There were things I wanted for my life that I felt I couldn’t have if I pursued ministry. I wanted a husband and a family. I wanted to be able to control where I lived or what I did in my life. I had not completely surrendered my life. When we are young we sometimes hear God’s calling in our lives, but we think we can get some things out of the way before we answer the call. We think we have to sow wild oats before we settle down. Sowing wild oats for me was simply doing those things I wanted to do. It did not involve alcohol or drugs or anything illegal it was just doing my own thing. When God calls us we are often listening, but we don’t respond in the ways we should. God does NOT control us. We have free will. He just waits until we are tired of running away from his will. He knows it will come down to us giving up our control one day.
Now while we may not accept God’s calling at the time he calls us I’ve realized in his own ways he works things out in a subtle way to where in the long run we are doing what He called us to do so many years before. He patiently waits and begins to put things in place. Things happen for a reason and if we look back we begin to see the pattern in our lives that have helped us move forward in his direction.
Another reason just might be he is equipping us to do His bidding. We all know God does not call the equipped’ he equips the called. As I look back on my life I realize as a younger person I would not have the knowledge or the wisdom I do now. I could have gone on to Seminary or a University and pursued this thing called ministry. I could have graduated and received a document saying I was qualified. But, I would have lacked the circumstances; the difficulties in my life and I certainly would have missed the opportunities to learn from my mistakes I’ve made over the years. You see my teacher has been life itself. I have learned to cope, I’ve learned to pick myself up and dust my self off and I’ve learned it’s not about throwing punches but allowing God to work in my life.
If we are living life we are being taught something through each experience we find in our lives. We are being taught some of the most valuable lessons not from a Professor or a book. Our lessons come from what we are learning about life and how to handle life. Our lessons come from listening to God and discerning what each experience or circumstance can teach us or has taught us.
When I was young I know I just struggled with getting through those circumstances and experiences and difficulties. I didn’t take the time or have the time to analyze each event. I just wanted to get past them. Now that I am older I can begin to look back and see where God was working in my life. I can see how he moved mountains and gave me hope.
I believe he calls many of us when we are older just because we have graduated from the school of Hard Knocks. We often understand how to help others because God has helped us get through those difficult times. We know that the only way to get through is not to do it alone, but to fully rely on God all the time every day.
I am not like a lot of young people. I don’t analyze the Bible and try to figure things out. I simply read it, ask God for wisdom and then begin to put those practices in my life. I am not against analyzing the Bible, but I think we sometimes have a tendency to overthink it. For me, it is simply trusting what God has shared with me through the many different men and women of the Bible.
I believe if God has called us into the ministry no matter what age we are He will provide us with the health and the energy to get things done. I should be looking at slowing down and taking life easy, I am thinking God has a different plan for me.
If I hadn’t been so bull-headed or a control freak maybe I would be slowing down now, but then I wouldn’t have had those experiences and the knowledge that I have now to share with others. God knows what he is doing. Look at how things turned out with Rebekah, Sarah, Abraham, and Moses.
If God is calling you and your saying it’s too late turn in your Bibles and read about Abraham’s and Sarah’s calling in Genesis 12, or Moses calling in Exodus and we find Rebekah’s calling in Genesis 24.
God knows you and he knows what you have to offer to those around you or those he has prepared to send your way. He has given you wisdom through the school of life that no one else has experienced. Young or old God does not discriminate. Female or male, he doesn’t care.
How will you answer God’s calling in your life?
Dear God: this is a message we all need to hear. It doesn’t matter the age we are. We all have something to offer. We are all called into ministry every day. You may call us when we are young and we may respond. While some of us may not respond at such an early age that doesn’t keep you from working things out in a quiet way until one day we realize we are doing what you’ve called us to do all along. Help us to use those experiences, circumstances and the difficulties of life to reach others and to bring them to you. Amen