Like Jonah, I almost missed it.
I believe we all face situations where it seems God calls us to unfavorable places or into uncomfortable situations. Yet, like the Jonah narrative, God is as much at work in the servant as he is in those being served.
Awhile back, I was asked to visit the brother of a person in our congregation. He was losing a long battle with cancer and his loved ones were not sure of the state of his faith. Honestly, I didn’t want to go. I felt overwhelmed by an expectation to pray for healing and salvation, and somehow contrive words that would bring comfort to the struggle and make sense of the suffering. But I went anyway, and happened upon one of the most memorable and tender moments I have ever experienced. The man was not looking for healing. He did not need me to save his soul. He did not expect me to make sense of the struggle or suffering. As I look back, I feel he simply needed someone to join him in the finality of it all, and help re-acquaint him with the God of his youth. After a couple hours of asking questions and listening to him reflect on his life, I invited the man and his wife to simply express their hearts to God in prayer and allow me to join them. What followed was a beautiful, honest, tender expression of worship and trust. In that moment I believe they were reunited with Grace, and this somehow seemed to prepare and usher him into God’s presence a week later.
The crazy part… I almost missed it.
I was so caught up in what I was supposed to do (as my role as pastor), rather than being confident in who I am called to be (a fellow human bearing the image of Christ). The way I see it, identity serves as an expression of my connectivity to people, but destiny is something altogether different. Destiny is an expression of my connectivity to God. As this experience with a dying man unfolded, it allowed me to see how easily we can all get distracted by our earthly identity, and be disconnected from our kingdom destiny to experience and reflect God in the world around us.
This is not a new struggle.
Do our ever-changing identities, roles or titles artificially define or limit our kingdom contribution? For me, identities such as pastor, father, husband, friend or boss can sometimes hinder God’s unique destiny from finding a more complete and meaningful expression in and through my life. Whether these limitations are self-imposed or placed on me by others, I can become distracted by the role, and disconnect from my greater kingdom calling.
When I look at Jonah, I see his flight to Tarshish as flat out disregard for God's destiny and calling on his life. God invited Jonah to participate in a significant kingdom moment. Jonah almost missed it because of a defined identity, limited to only the Hebrew nation.
As with Jonah, the panic of God calling us to do something outside the confines of our perceived role can cause us to bolt. It can keep us from being available to hear and obey a timely word of direction whispered by the Holy Spirit. As in the case with the dying man, I was struggling with my perceived role as “God’s answer-man,” needing to do something, all the while forgetting my destiny to be a Spirit-filled witness and presence. As I released my “pastor” identity and instead responded as a Christ-follower, available to love and serve, I was pleasantly surprised and energized by God’s work through me.
As you continue your life-long service to God, I invite you to look beyond your roles and reconnect with destiny as a light bearer and witness of God’s love and redemptive good news on the planet. May you not miss the creative and dynamic ways God will bring His Kingdom, through you, in greater measure on the earth, just as it is in heaven.
Matthew 26:37-40 NIV
The Sheep and the Goats
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Matthew 5:3-8 NIV
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
About the Author
Dusty serves as our lead pastor. He is a gifted leader, administrator and communicator with a passion to help others grow in their God-given potential. He joined the team as an associate pastor in 2009 and later transitioned to the role of lead pastor in January 2010. Dusty previously served as a youth pastor and director of youth camps and leadership events, for Foursquare churches in the Northwest, at Camp Crestview. He and his wife, Julie, grew up in the area and have three sons and five grandchildren.