God has a definite calling on your life. It’s not a calling exclusively for pastors, church leaders, missionaries and people we assume to be spiritually “deep” or responsible. It’s for you. It’s practical. Embracing and cultivating it will positively change everything about you – and in the process, it will also affect countless others along the way. Do you know what it is, and are you cultivating it?
Listen to the companion podcast on the Godfactor App and iTunes. See below for info.
[W]E ALL STRUGGLE WITH IT. Intimacy with God. Our prayer lives. But the consequences of neglecting a close relationship with God can be catastrophic – personally, for a family and for a nation.
In Luke 13:31-35, Jesus casts a significant vision for His people:
31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. 33 Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
Jesus says He “often” wanted to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks. The imagery is one of closeness, protection and provision. (In saying this, Jesus put Himself in the position of God once more. How could He assume a role for the people that only God could fulfill?). Like a mother hen fending for her young, God knows how to protect and nurture His children. But there is only one problem with the imagery. Jesus was rebuffed. He tells them, “you would not.” Would not what? They would not allow Jesus to draw close. They would not allow Him to be the Protector and Provider He longed to be for His people – and this is what led to the destruction of the Temple just four decades later. Jesus said, “Behold, your house is forsaken” (verse 35).
Our use of time reveals our real convictions about God’s invitation for intimacy with Him . . .
Instead of accepting God’s invitation for intimacy, His people replaced it with religious ritual. We do the same today, in many ways, on many occasions. Still, Jesus’ invitation stands. He often wants to gather us, protect us, nurture us from the ravages of life. But when we spurn God’s advances, we open a Pandora’s box of unnecessary trouble, hardship and difficulties. These come as a result of living life apart from abiding intimacy with God. Doing so isn’t just dangerous. It’s outright foolish. But we, the pinnacle of God’s creation, have a propensity to drift toward things that are very foolish, unsatisfying and distracting. We are skilled at exchanging wisdom for foolishness, and we pay a very heavy price in the long run. Eventually, the way we live catches up to us.
Like a mother hen fending for her young, God knows how to protect and nurture His children. But God’s children must welcome the protection – or forfeit it.
Israel’s fate, in rejecting Jesus, is troubling and telling for us today. Those who spurn God’s appeals expose themselves to an unprotected life. This is true for any individual and any group of people who begin with God but then stray from Him. God has ways of keeping our attention, and helping us realize that there really is no “life” apart from His power and presence. In fact, we are witnessing the remarkable disembowelment of America right now, as men and women trek the dangerous path of seeking satisfaction apart from a growing relationship with God. History teaches us that those who abandon God eventually pay a very heavy price for their neglect. No one has ever neglected the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9) and wound up better for it.
If God has called you to anything definite in life, He has called you to deepening intimacy with Him. Intimacy with God will help you in every area of life – and its lack will eventually catch up with you. Both the Bible and history teach this. God wants to be your literal shield from all foes who may seek your demise. He wants to gather you. Do you want Him to? He wants to protect you. Do you want Him to? He wants to be your shield, your guardian. Think about this for a moment. Can anyone or anything succeed against GOD? It would be an absurd proposition to suggest otherwise, but our actions often leave us vulnerable to the elements of life. Our words can say one thing while our actions say another. Our use of time reveals our real conviction about God’s invitation for intimacy with Him. The big sin behind busyness is our willingness to live life without dependence and affection for God.
Our actions reveal what we really believe about God. What do your actions say about God as your Provider and Protector? God wants to gather you, often. He has a definite calling on your life – but are you embracing it?
In Part II, we’ll explore some specific, practical actions you can take to be a person who embraces Jesus’ invitation by cultivating a life of prayer and intimacy with God. Stay tuned . . .