For a good many years—a few decades at least—I have tried to figure out God’s plan for my life, what his calling might be for me. Frankly, I will admit some level of relief that he has not seemed to call me to be a missionary to Iceland or Indonesia… or to Mississippi, for that matter. If it was his intent that I spend my years tending to lepers or saving leopards, I have not yet figured that out and continue with some degree of gratitude for my ignorance on that point.
What I have come to realize, through study of the Scriptures and reflection on experience, is that I have actually always been aware of my calling—God has called me to obedience, to service, to love.
When Peter and John headed over to the temple (Acts 3) for afternoon prayer, they did not say to one another, “Let’s go look for someone to heal.” They were simply following their normal routine. But they went about that routine with their eyes open. They came upon a man who needed healing and they healed him. Paul did not go to the island of Malta to heal people but after being shipwrecked there he ended up healing all of the sick there. Jesus did not set out to feed thousands of people. After preaching to them, though, and seeing their hunger, he responded with compassion in a miraculous manner.
In each of these cases, the responses of compassion, caring and curing were not the focused purpose; they were inevitable consequences that resulted when compassionate, caring and empowered people saw the needs of those around them.
When Peter was about to heal the cripple at the temple, he said, “I don’t have any silver or gold but what I do have I give to you—in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”
God has never called on people to give something they didn’t have; he has always expected us to share with others from what we have received. There are always people in our lives who have less of something than what we have—less food, less clothing, less strength, less time, less courage, less hope, less confidence, less assurance of their value, less appreciation for their work. If we open our eyes and look around us, we will always find opportunity to share, to lift up, to encourage, to give.
Whenever we give, share, serve, or love others, we give to Jesus, we honor him. And find ourselves the richer for it.