Most every Christian I know has struggled to know God’s will and purpose for them in this world. To be sure, there are several things we do know about God’s will and purpose that are spelled out in the clearest possible terms in Holy Scripture: loving God, loving others, and making disciples. In short, we were created in Christ Jesus to glorify God by following Christ and joining Him in His work, building the Church and enlarging the borders of His Kingdom in this world.
But, there is in the heart of most of us, a sense that God has created us and gifted us in ways that are unique from one another. So, it isn’t surprising that we wonder why. Paul’s counsel in Romans chapter twelve, 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen, and Ephesians chapter four are helpful in ferreting this out. But, determining how it all works out in one’s day to day life can be a struggle, even for a theologically educated middle aged man with pastoral and teaching gifts. That is where I found myself almost twenty-five years ago.
Early one morning, sitting out on the lanai of my Port Charlotte home, I took an inventory of my life. An unwanted divorce prevented me, at that time, from serving Christ in the manner I thought I had been called. I became a single Dad with primary custody of my three daughters. My career track moved from vocational pastoral ministry to geriatric healthcare. I subsequently remarried and struggled with the reality that my new wife was seriously ill with cancer. So, I found myself in the midst of an emotional maelstrom, wondering how all this fit in with God’s will and purpose for my life. And, then my eyes fell on the 49th chapter of Isaiah, and God spoke to me in ways that changed my life from that day to this.
Listen to Me, O islands,
And pay attention, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called Me from the womb;
From the body of My mother He named Me.
2 He has made My mouth like a sharp sword,
In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
And He has also made Me a select arrow,
He has hidden Me in His quiver.
3 He said to Me, “You are My Servant, Israel,
In Whom I will show My glory.” NASB
This prophecy properly belongs to the Messiah as the “Servant of the Lord.” But as I read these words, it occurred to me that we who are the followers of Christ, have also been called from the womb, yes, even from before the foundation of the world. And, if we truly are His followers, we are hidden with Christ in God, and perhaps it is no stretch to think our role in this world is to be select, polished, smooth arrows in the Father’s quiver. It isn’t for us to map out how or when or where God should use us, but it is for us to be available to be used at His dispatch. There is no need for us to have the answers, but it is for us to remain available moment by moment. It is about Him in the end, and not about you or me. But what an honor to be counted as a prized arrow, made select, polished and smooth by His grace and the sanctifying work of His Spirit.
My second wife died soon thereafter, leading her best friend to Christ in the process. Then God did what some said was impossible, restoring me to vocational pastoral ministry. After 16 years in a successful ministry in New England, Lynn, my wife of 20 years now, and I retired to Florida. But we are enjoying new adventures in ministry without the stress of wondering what, when, where or how!
Hey! I would love to hear your “hidden arrows” story.