Perhaps your struggle isn’t with your outward appearance. What else might be holding you back from being all that God has called you to be?
In between a disappointing encounter with a rich young ruler in Matthew 19 and an audacious request by a helicopter parent that would make even today’s generation blush in Matthew 20, Jesus tells a parable about laborers in a vineyard. Perhaps I’m reading more into the passage than is intended because of some things I’m dealing with at home (namely, kids telling the truth but not the whole truth to keep from getting into trouble), but bear with me and see if there are some real-life parallels for you, as well.
A land owner goes out early in the morning to find workers for his vineyard and negotiates a day’s wages with the new hires. Not only that, but he also returns four more times to try to hire more workers throughout the day. Without being present in the story, it’s hard to tell exactly, but it sounds like he hired anyone who was willing to work each time he went.
The last time he went was about an hour before quitting time, and when he found some people hanging around, he asked why they weren’t working. They answered, “Because no one has hired us” (Matthew 20:7, ESV). Interesting. If my earlier interpretation is correct, then either these guys weren’t around the first three times the owner came by looking for workers, or they originally turned down the offer hoping for something better to come along.
I wonder if “Because no one has hired us” is the whole truth. Maybe they slept in till noon and didn’t want to admit their laziness, or perhaps they turned up their noses at doing such prickly manual labor as picking grapes until the day dragged on to the point where they realized they wouldn’t have money to feed their families if they didn’t swallow their pride and accept the work.
We don’t know the backstory, but I reckon we could still put ourselves into their shoes. There are times when God nudges our hearts to do his work, and we pretend not to hear the Spirit’s call because we’d rather do something else (or nothing at all). I encourage you to listen carefully and let God use you in his kingdom work; you won’t regret it.
What does it mean to you when people talk about hearing from God? Does his voice have to be audible to be understood?
When’s the last time that you sensed God leading you down a particular path – or have you ever felt that call? Openly listen to him today.
This week’s teaching pastor at CBI (Cedar Bible Institute, a youth discipleship class) posed this question to the teens: Have you ever felt like God was calling you to do something? The context was about the story of Daniel, in which he and his exiled buddies stood up to domineering leadership, first in regard to what they ate and drank, but later in much more dire situations that landed them in life-threatening scenarios on multiple occasions.
The lesson prompted an interesting discussion at home later that day, so I thought I would pitch the same question to you. Have you ever felt like God was leading you to do something in particular?
It could be as simple as feeling compelled to sit by someone new at lunch and striking up a friendly conversation. It could require a little more courage to act on a nudge on your heart to offer the cup of fruit that you just bought in the lunchline to that kid who brings a cheese sandwich and nothing else to eat every day. It could mean offering to pray for someone right there on the spot, because you sense the Holy Spirit prompting you to do so. It might even mean sharing your faith and inviting someone to pray and invite Jesus to be their personal Savior.
One of the things I love most about C.S. Lewis’ teachings is how he acknowledges our God-given common sense. I mean, if it’s raining or snowing outside, do you really need to pray and ask the Lord whether you should wear heels or rubber-soled shoes that day? Common sense says that if you don’t want to break an ankle, then go with the sensible shoes. I don’t believe the Holy Spirit functions like an air traffic controller in our lives, dictating our every move. And yet, there are times when his voice is as clear to our hearts as a megaphone to our ears.
Daniel and his friends understood the need to stay in tune with the Holy Spirit, and not only did that diligence to hear God’s voice keep them out of a heap of trouble, it also allowed them the opportunity to witness to one of the greatest leaders in ancient history. King Nebuchadnezzar even penned part of the book of Daniel as his personal testimony!
God may not ever call you to defy a den of lions or withstand a fiery furnace, but there may be situations like the cafeteria examples above, where you have a chance to make a kingdom-sized impact within your own social circle. Will you listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and then be willing to act on it?