Harwich Soundings – September 4, 2017
Blessed Labor Day! I was taken by a piece from the selected writings of Evelyn Underhill cited in a devotional resource I’m using. It’s about ‘God’s calling’, which, when we respond positively, becomes at least some of our life’s labor.
Yesterday’s sermon addressed Jonah’s running from God’s call for him to preach judgment to wicked Nineveh. He didn’t agree with God’s ‘theology’ and decided not to participate in what God had in mind by calling him. So he fled to Tarshish and ended up on a three day sojourn in the belly of a great fish.
Underhill writes: “St. Paul did not want to be an apostle to the Gentiles…He wanted to be a clever and appreciated young Jewish scholar, and kicked against the pricks. St. Ambrose and St. Augustine did not want to be overworked and worried bishops. Nothing was further from their intention. St Cuthbert wanted the solitude and freedom of his hermitage on the Farne; but he did not often get there. St. Francis Xavier’s preference was for an ordered life close to his beloved master, St. Ignatius. At a few hours’ notice he was sent out to be the Apostle of the Indies and never returned to Europe again. Henry Martyn, the fragile and exquisite scholar, was compelled to sacrifice the intellectual life to which he was so perfectly fitted for the missionary life to which he felt decisively called.
In all these, a power beyond themselves decided the direction of life. Yet in all, we recognize not frustration, but the highest of all types of achievement. Things like this—and they are constantly happening—gradually convince us that the overruling reality of life is the Will and Choice of a Spirit acting not in a mechanical but in a living and personal way; and that the spiritual life of man does not consist in mere individual betterment, or assiduous attention to his own soul, but in a free and unconditional response to that Spirit’s pressure and call, whatever the cost may be.” (Underhill, cited in A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God, 313)
How does this selection speak to your experience? What has your experience been of God’s call in your life? The call may be really big, as in a life vocation; or contextual and limited to a season of life, or in the daily grind, to a particular decision. A bottom line in all this is our faith response to what we discern to be God’s will for us.
“Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.” (Romans 12:2—CEB)
Grist for the mill….
- An offering for UMCOR’s work in the Harvey disaster will be taken next Sunday.
- Administrative Council meets Sunday after worship
- Tattoos on the Heart book study begins Monday, September 11, 2-3:30. Books available in Fellowship Hall.