Take the Call
Not sure if you are like me, but if my cell phone rings and the number is not in my address book (ie. a number rather than a name pops up) I usually don’t answer it. If it is important, they will leave a message, I will call them back, and then I will put their name in my phone. But usually it is a telephone solicitation that I don’t want to hear and then I feel my number is passed along down the line and it just opens me up for more solicitation calls. So most calls that are unidentified won’t get answered.
Paul had a call—though not from a cell phone—that he took. In Acts 16:9-10 we learn that, in a vision at night, Paul received what we sometimes refer to as the “Macedonian Call.” Paul’s conclusion was that God was calling him over to what we now call Greece to spread the word of God’s loving grace. He and his companions went and we will touch base next week on some of the great things that happened there. It was a call Paul took after a call he made couldn’t get through.
If you look at the verses just before this, Paul is traveling back through Galatia and Phrygia, areas he had visited on his first journey into this area. He wanted to then go into what we would call eastern Turkey, that they referred to as Asia. But the Holy Spirit kept him from entering (v6-8). Paul had a plan, and it wasn’t a bad plan, spreading word of God’s love and salvation is a good thing. But it wasn’t God’s plan, so God shut it down. Why would God shut down something that was good? You could say that Paul experienced a first century “dropped call.”
Until a couple of months ago we were planning to serve those who participate in the Pumpkin Fest parade as they lined up in our parking lot, as we have done for years. Then we learned the parade route has changed. And now this past week we found out dates that would work out for us to host the men from the men’s shelter aren’t available. That service opportunity is lost. Two areas that the congregation has used to reach out to our community for a number of years are taken away. Why have these doors been shut? Why can’t we enter Asia? Why was the “call dropped?”
Maybe because God needs us to go in a different direction.
Maybe the direction God is calling us to put our efforts in is deeper and longer lasting. These missed opportunities are not saying to stop serving those around us, but try looking past the physical to the eternal. Hundreds of people, maybe thousands have passed through our parking lot during the Pumpkin Fest. The problem is they have passed through. And they would continue to pass through because we don’t have that deeper relationship with them. A cup of coffee or hot chocolate is a great service, but doesn’t go much beyond that, a warm feeling for them and for you. Maybe we are getting another call—one with an unfamiliar number.
Maybe God is calling us in the direction that might be a little less comfortable. Maybe he wants us to share God’s love and message of salvation with the people we already have a relationship with—our neighbors, friends, and relatives. Handing someone cup of coffee with a smile is easy. Providing a meal to someone who is down and out makes us feel good. But maybe God is calling you to go in a direction that is different this time. Will you answer that call? Or will you let it go? The phone is ringing. You know who is on the other end. What are you going to do?
Taking the Call, Randy