Saturday, October 01, 2005

Equipping: The Lag From Calling To Sending

These comments were given to me by a missionary mentor many years ago. May God use it to speak into each of our lives as we discern the unique calling He has on our lives

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days.” Galatians 1:18.

Do you sense that God has called you to something, but you don’t know what? There is always a lag between the calling and the sending of a saint. What is the thing from the old you that still persist even though you now have Christ? This is what God must work on (to add or subtract) before He sends you. First, He calls. Then, He equips. Then, He sends.

It is hard to be called by God and to live in our society at the same time. In America, when the action impulse comes, action follows immediately. No patience required – technology and culture leads us to proceed immediately. Not so with God. Immediately when He calls us, He postpones our sending. There is other work to be done first.

The Calling, Equipping and Sending of Paul
The Apostle Paul experienced the most dramatic conversion in all history. On the road to Damascus a light suddenly flashed, and he fell to the ground. Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”(Acts 9:4) For three days, Paul stumbled around blind and did not eat or drink. Then God sent Ananias to Paul to deliver this calling: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”(Acts 9:15)

Immediately upon hearing it, Paul began to preach that Jesus is the Son of God. The people were astonished, and he grew more and more powerful in his calling. Then an odd thing happened. After only a few days, Paul fled to Arabia where he remained in obscurity for three years. Here was a famous man, the persecutor of the Christians, known throughout the region, feared by every Christian. His conversion would be big news. His calling, to take the Gospel to the Gentiles would be very big news indeed. But, he was not ready for the calling.

God caused a lag between the calling and the sending of Paul. God took Paul to the desert for three years because there was something that God still needed to work into – or out of – Paul. Only God knows what it was for Paul. What is it for you? Or, do you know yet? It is not all that important that you even know what God is doing in you. Knowing that He is the one doing it should suffice.

To know that God causes the lag between our calling and our sending is satisfying. He always equips us for the calling before the sending. He will never give us a task for which we are not sufficiently equipped. We can of course, go before we are actually sent. This is the work of the flesh, and it always results in delay. We need the lag between our calling and our sending for God to do His repair work on us. He wants to send only properly prepared people. We must allow enough time to do it right the first time.

A Change of Calling
When a new calling comes, the sense of purpose we had from our previous calling withers away. Instead of feeling a surge of power and confidence about the future, the future becomes an unfocused blur. The natural reaction is to make plans of our own, to set some new goals. The spiritual reaction is to thank God for the blur. It is a time for God to work that thing in or out of your life. It is a time of tearing down old thinking and building up new thinking. It is a time to abandon the inevitable presuppositions and self deceit that build up over time. It is a time for self-examination. It is a time to be re-equipped.

The lag between the calling and the sending should be a sweet time, a special time. It is a time for reflection and rededication, for renewal. Don’t be rushed into sending. God will reveal that day with an unmistakable signal. No doubt will remain that it is the sending time. “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter.”(Galatians 1:18)

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