This past Sunday our departing Pastor Steve Ranni shared with us from his heart Some final thoughts the Lord had given him regarding the call of God.
God’s call can be to a place or ministry, and God’s call can be from a place or ministry. During this same Sunday service elders gathered to pray as another individual in our assembly prepared to leave us having heard and heeded the call of our Lord. His was a call to both place and ministry. But for Pastor Steve it was a call to “still waters” a call to a season of “restoring one’s soul.” (Ps. 23).
The mighty thundering prophet Elijah was once called in this way. After a dynamic moment of ministry and the Spirit of God charging through Him like a lightning bolt, Elijah was depleted, discouraged and downtrodden… ready to give up and die! (See 1 Kings chaps. 18 & 19)
But God was not finished with Elijah. Instead, God provided food, drink, rest… then more food, more drink… Only then did the Lord speak to him and commission him with a new task… a task for a new man, a man refreshed, refueled, rehydrated. No longer was his call to prophesy, but God had called him to new purposes… and God had called another man to fill Elijah’s boots, yield his mantle… a man doubly empowered for even greater services.
When God calls, He leaves no one in the lurch. God calls within His one, self-same Body, the universal Church. He calls one knee up the other down, then that one up, the first one down… all in balance as His Church marches forward!
Pastor Steve reminisced how on November 25, 2009 the Olympic torch passed our church. He recalled a message he preached just four days later… a message about passing the torch metaphorically, as the calling God led His people. Leaders and non-leaders alike received the charge, “Be strong and of a good courage” (Deut. 31:6, 7).
Though I’d never quite thought of it in this way, we find that Jesus too came to a point of being called from a ministry, and to passing the torch to another. I’m not thinking here of His disciples, but of the third member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. “I must go away,” Jesus told His disciples. But He added “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate [Holy Spirit] will not come to you.” (John 16:7).
Jesus also gave His followers a final message and a charge — a perfect hermeneutical three-point sermon:
1. I have all power.
2. Go, make and grow disciples.
3. I am always with you. (See Matt. 28:18-20).
“Be strong and of good courage” my brothers and sisters. God is in control. God is building His Church. God is building His Kingdom.