The sound was unmistakable. I can still hear it in my memory. The sound of a wooden spoon stirring pancake batter in a Tupperware bowl. It was the sound of Saturday morning. My father did not cook often, but Saturday morning was his time to shine in the culinary arts. My father loved pancakes — tall stacks of pancakes drowned in maple syrup. But these pancakes, garnished with sausage, had a deeper significance. As much as my Dad loved piles of carbs drenched with more carbs, pancakes prepared a man for work. And work was the order of the day on Saturdays. The early morning sound of pancake batter was the clarion call to wake for work.
For my childhood friends, Saturday morning was a time to sleep in and focus on the business of play. But in our house, my father cast another vision. His vision involved rising early, eating a hearty breakfast, loading the car with gardening tools and making the hour-long drive to our “property” to tend the tomatoes, squash, corn, string-beans and watermelons. I was not an enthusiastic gardener, but I loved to be with my father. I am quite sure my father could have gotten more done without me, but he took me because he wanted me with him in his work.
The challenges were great. The roto-tiller was like a rodeo bronc. Pulling weeds from the hard-baked Georgia clay bloodied my fingers. The broiling hours under the summer sun seemed interminable. And I can still hear the sound of the cicadas that formed the soundtrack of gardening adversity. But there were great rewards — hearing the stories of my forefathers, seeing “the old places” where my family’s history unfolded, sharing peanut butter and banana sandwiches with my dad and the world’s coldest “Co-cola” (Georgian for Coca-Cola) from Mr. Crow’s General Store. And the coup-de-grace was my father’s declaration at the end of the day that I had done a solid day of man’s work. The call that came with the wooden spoon striking Tupperware was reluctantly heeded at the day’s dawning, but at day’s end, I was thankful for I had accepted the call.
That is often what God’s calling is like. At first it is daunting and dreaded, filled with thoughts of adversity and self-doubt. And often it is just as hard as we expected. However, it is never a call merely to do a job, but to spend time at work with the Father. While God does not need us to accomplish his plan and purpose, he delights to have us with him at work. He chooses to call us to go with him.
We see this vividly in God’s call to the prophet Jeremiah. God has work for Jeremiah to do. He tells him to “gird up his loins” and get dressed for work, but first he tells him that even before he formed Jeremiah in his mother’s womb, he knew him and set him apart to declare the gospel to perishing men, women, boys and girls. The language is tender, as of a father lovingly planning for a child yet unborn. And most importantly, God is not just sending Jeremiah, pushing him out of the nest to face the cold, harsh realities of a world hostile to the gospel. Notice the promise that animates Jeremiah’s call. Twice the Lord tells the reluctant prophet, “do not be afraid … for I am with you.”
Jeremiah’s calling reveals important truths about our own callings. God never merely send us out to work for him, but invites us to join him where he is in what he is doing. Is it intimidating? Is there self-doubt? Of course, but we have the promise of his power and his presence. Have you accepted God’s call? His call to come to him through faith in Christ and then his call to join him in his work?
Join us this Sunday, June 30, as we examine Jeremiah’s call in Jeremiah 1:4-19 and consider what this teaches us about God’s call to us. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions. Come with a friend and join us for fellowship and worship. We look forward to seeing you there.