The Journey to Finding Our True Calling

Take Off Your Shoes…You’re Standing on Holy Ground

This journey called life can be difficult. We want control over our lives. We want to call the shots. Too often, this means pushing back and taking the easy road. Pushing back isn’t a very good plan, just ask Moses.

Moses pushed back and gave God excuses of why he was the wrong one to go. (Exodus 4:10-17) Through all of Moses’ excuses, he moved forward fulfilling God’s calling.

Other than Jesus, Moses is the most well-known character in the Bible. He played multiple roles throughout his life. It’s easy to glamourize Biblical characters who accomplish great things, but they were people just like us.

Let’s look at how Moses became Moses.

He was born to Jochebed and Amram, both from the tribe of Levi, when the children of Israel lived in Egypt as slaves. He was the youngest of three children, with a sister named Miriam and a brother named Aaron.

This was a time when the Pharaoh was afraid of the Israelite slaves because there were so many of them and he ordered all the boy Israelite babies to be killed. Moses’ mother,

“…saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months”

When she couldn’t hide him anymore, she made a little boat, placed him in it, and hid baby Moses in the reeds on the banks of the Nile River. He didn’t stay there long before being rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter. Being unable to nurse him, she hired a Hebrew woman to do the job. This woman just so happened to be Moses’ mother.

After Moses was old enough, the Pharaoh’s daughter raised him in the palace surrounded by all the luxuries of Egypt. (Exodus 2:1-10)

Moses grew up in the palace but knew he was a Hebrew. When Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave the Bible says, “Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand”.

Not the greatest coverup because the next day, a Hebrew slave called him out on it.

We all deal with fear and Moses is no different. When Pharaoh found out what Moses had done, Moses ran for his life. He lived out in the desert of Midian for 40 years as a shepherd with his new family. (Exodus 2:11-22)

Fear showed up again when God appeared to Moses in a burning bush that was on fire but did not burn up. God told Moses to not come any closer and to take his shoes off because he was standing on holy ground. (Exodus 3:1-6)

This is a Scripture I struggle with because I don’t like going barefoot, especially outside, let alone up on a mountain. Once I put my boots on in the morning, I don’t take them off until I go to bed at night.

However, if I find myself standing next to a bush that’s on fire but not burning up and God tells me to take my boots off…I’m going to take them off.

Moses removing his sandals was an act of reverence and obedience to God’s call.

Whatever God’s call to us is, we need to be willing to respect and submit to that calling.

God wanted Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Moses was afraid and gave excuse after excuse, one being that he stuttered. Moses told God, “Please send someone else”. God didn’t want to send someone else and got angry with Moses. (Exodus 3:7-4:17)

God recruited his brother Aaron to assist in overcoming Moses’ fear, promising to help them both.

Moses rose to the challenge.

When trapped between the Pharaoh and the Red Sea, Moses told the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again…”, and he was right. Moses led them through the Red Sea on dry ground by the power of the God. That was just the beginning of Moses’ calling.

The job God called Moses to do was full of difficulties and challenges. Moses never hid his emotions and questions from God. They spent 40 days together on top of Mount Sinai and God gave Moses “…the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God”.

Meanwhile, the people got tired of waiting for Moses, made an idol, and started worshiping it. This made God angry, and He offered to kill them all, making Moses into a great nation instead. “But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God”.

God heard Moses and didn’t act on His emotions. 

For 40 years, Moses led the Israelites, and God kept His promise to always be with him. Even when Moses messed up, due to his anger, which disallowed him from entering the promised land. The Bible says Moses “whom the LORD knew face to face”. (Deuteronomy 34:10)

Excerpt from Who Was Moses in the Bible?

God calls us all to our specific purpose. We need to have an open and honest conversation with God when we don’t feel adequate. We need to be willing to step out in faith and trust that God has our back.

We need to honor God and be willing to take our shoes off if that’s what He wants us to do.

A Map is a Great Way to Figure Out Where to Go

The Problem Is That It’s Much Harder to Get There if You Don’t Follow It

If you want to go from here to there, maps are a great way to figure out the route you want to take. They can show us the roads to drive, rivers that have to be crossed and mountains that we need to go around.

When giving directions if we say going up, we are referring to North on a map. Going down is South. Up and down directions when using a map aren’t about elevations.

Determining elevations with a map is hard. Even though you can see the drawings of rivers, plains, valleys, and mountains, it’s hard to get the full effect of the differences when looking at a flat piece of paper.

As we’ve been going through the book of Luke over the past several weeks, Jesus and His disciples have been traveling. Starting near the Sea of Galilee, they were going through portions of Samaria and headed to Jerusalem. Today’s adventure starts in Jericho which is near the Dead Sea.

It’s about seventeen miles from Jericho to Jerusalem on the map. What the map doesn’t show is the elevation difference. Jericho is 864’ BELOW sea level…Jerusalem is 2500’ ABOVE sea level. This is a 3364’ elevation change. This is almost ¾ of a mile up.

This unseen uphill elevation is going to make the journey harder than it appears on the map.

This is why it is important to read and study the whole map and not just look at the pictures. The information you need is there if you just use it.

The same thing is true for the Map for life, the Bible. Just looking at the popular stories and verses doesn’t give you the full picture. You need to read it and study it so you can be prepared for the elevation changes.

Going through this journey of life without even looking at the Map (Bible) is sure to make the adventure more difficult.

In this week’s portion of the Map (Luke 18) we are given a lot of valuable information for our journey.

We learn that –  

  • Like the widow’s persistence in going before the judge, if we pray day and night God will hear our prayers. (Luke 18:1-8)
  • Thinking too highly of ourselves and putting others down is not pleasing to God. This is shown to us in Luke 18:9-14 when the Pharisee prayed out loud how great he was and how greedy, dishonest and unfaithful the tax collector was. On the other hand, the tax collector only asked to be forgiven for his sins.
  • In Luke 18:18-30 our Life Map shows us how to get to Heaven in the example of the rich man who isn’t willing to put God ahead of his earthly wealth. We all have things that we do the same thing with. Whatever that thing is for you, you need to make it less important than God.

The Map doesn’t say it will be an easy journey, but it makes it clear it’s the right path.

  • The final directions given to us in Luke 18 are in verses 35-43. Here we are shown how having faith in Jesus will open our eyes. The blind beggar heard that Jesus was passing by. He shouted out to Jesus to give him his eyesight and his prayer was answered.

As Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, the disciples were having trouble believing what Jesus was telling them about His upcoming death. They believed that Jesus was the Savior, but His death was not their vision of how He would conquer the world.

The disciples’ hearts were in the right place, but their heads weren’t.

They finally figured it out after His death and resurrection.

They disciples had preconceived ideas and were having trouble focusing. In Sunday School, my sister compared this to when her son was a young boy. She would try to get him to focus on what she was telling him by putting her hands on each side of his face and getting him to look her in the eye. Then she knew she had his focused attention.

We need to make eye contact with God and give Him our focused attention.

Read and study the Life Map. Realize that there will be highs and lows. Life is not going to be a paper smooth journey, but it’s worth the effort.

A Journey of Faith Takes Time and is Scary

It’s Much Better When We Have the Support of Others

We had another faith Sunday at church the past week. It is amazing and wonderful to hear about people’s faith journeys. Each one of us in our own unique place in our journey through life.

It’s easy to be consumed by all the things going on in our own busy lives and forget those around us. We often feel that we are going on this journey alone. We forget that there is help when we need it.

Isolation is one of the most difficult things we will ever experience.

We need to remember that everyone deals with the same struggles we do. Being willing to support those around us, even in small seemingly insignificant ways, can be live changing. The simple act of noticing people can be one of the biggest.

Being noticed validates our worth.

Both the needing and helping sides of the journey were evident in the stories shared. There were stories of the church as a whole or individuals giving support in difficult times when there was struggling. We’ve all needed this type of support in our own lives.

As I was reading The Traveler’s Gift there was an example of what a faith journey is like. In this book David Ponders traveling through time meeting with various people who give him wisdom and insight into the seven decisions for determining personal success.

David meets Christopher Columbus on the Santa Marie as he’s crossing the ocean. As the two men are talking, Columbus’s First Officer confronts the Captain, explaining that the men have had enough, and they are going to turn around and go back.

Columbus explains that they have been at sea for 64 days and only have 10 days of food and water left. Turning back would be futile. These men did not have the vision or faith that Columbus did.

It would take a lot of faith to get on a boat and set sail for an unknown destination at an unknown distance…but Columbus had a vision and faith. He believed and trusted God.

We need to believe and trust in God as we go on our journey.

It took years for Columbus to get the expedition organized. It took support from other people. It wasn’t instantaneous and he didn’t do it by himself. And neither will we.

Get support when you need it. Give support when you can. Believe in God and yourself and continue your journey.

Learn from the Past – Look to the Future – Live in the Present

Be Persistent in Pushing Toward the Goal

We all have specific gifts and talents that were given to us by God. These skills allow us to accomplish the results that God wants for us and from us. We can choose what we do with these God given abilities. We can use them for good or bad.

In Philippians 3:4-14, Paul refers to where he came from and looking forward to the goal that he has not yet reached. He learned from his mistakes and is focused on his future. It’s good to have a plan, but it does no good if you don’t do something today to move you in that direction.

No matter where you are it’s not where you were meant to be.

If we are still alive, we have control over our actions. In everything we have a choice. We can choose where we want to go and what we want to do. The important thing is to discuss these decisions with God first. Things go much better when we align our plans with His.

Matthew tells us not worry, but to seek what God wants for us and for His kingdom and all our needs will be met. Tomorrow has enough trouble of it’s own…be fully committed to the present.

Life is a journey full of obstacles, but God has given you what you need for them…it’s up to you to use them.

What Is the Most Important Journey?

That Would Be the Journey of Salvation

Life’s journeys can be hard, some harder than others.

In the 1065 Henry IV became king at the young age of 15. His lack of experience and wisdom at this young age including dealing with various rebellions found him in a difficult time.

One of these conflicts involved the church and Pope Gregory VII. Pope Gregory VII asserted that the College of Cardinals could appoint popes, bishops and other high-ranking church officials. These positions came with income producing lands and other perks. This caused a power struggle between the Emperor and the church.

In 1076 the young Emperor was excommunicated by Pope Henry and the bishops. Being excommunicated meant that the Emperor was banned from the church and taking communion. In the middle ages this was like closing the door to Heaven.

Following the suggestion his adversaries, the young Emperor decided to meet with the Pope at the castle in Canossa. This journey through the Alps in the middle of winter is known as the “Road to Canossa” or the “Humiliation of Canossa”.

Once the Emperor reached the castle, the Pope refused him entry. Henry IV stood outside the castle gate for three days bare footed wearing nothing but a hair-shirt (traditional monk’s robe). Finally, on January the 28th Henry was allowed to enter. That evening the Pope and the Emperor shared communion signaling the end of the excommunication.

Another hard life journey.

Jesus’ also had a hard journey, it included four stops along the way. The first was in the Garden of Gethsemane where he prayed to have this suffering taken away. He knew how hard the was going to be. The second stop was Gabbatha. Otherwise known as the place where Jesus stood trial in front of Pontius Pilot. Third is Galgotha, the place where He was crucified. The great thing is that the journey doesn’t stop here. The final place is the garden tomb where Jesus was buried. This is where His journey ends and ours begins.

Our journey to salvation is much easier than these. Jesus did the hard part. All we have to do is believe, get on and enjoy the ride. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be rough places along the way, but it’s much easier with Jesus showing us the path. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 tells us about the journey.

It’s definitely a trip worth taking.

What Will the Cost of the Trip Be?

It’s Important to Know the Destination Before You Start Your Journey

Intentional goal setting, including writing them down, is directly connected to the successful outcome of goals. For years we have heard of how often New Year’s resolutions fail. Some statistics show that as much as 60 percent of people abandon them within the first six months. This is due to a lack of commitment.

Jesus’ goal was set from the very beginning. He knew the cost and the destination before He started, He never lost sight or veered from it. Even knowing the cost, He was willing to commit to it. He knew the goal was worth the ultimate cost. We see this in Luke 13:31-35 when He is unwilling to stop doing His work even when confronted by the enemy.

We need to determine where we want to go in this life and beyond and realize it is worth the cost.

Jesus uses the analogy of a hen gathering chicks under her wings in this Scripture. Pastor Lee told a story of a chicken house that was burned down. When looking through the ashes the farmer found a dead hen laying on the floor, her feathers burnt off her back. As he rolled her over chicks came running out, still alive. She put the chicks needs ahead of her own.

We are chicks having had the ultimate price paid for us. We need to repay that gift by being the hen and put other’s ahead of ourselves.

Often, we head off in a direction without thinking it through. We think we have it all figured out. Then when we run into a barricade, we continue bouncing off it, still thinking we know best. Many times, after we have either crashed through or given up, we find there was a better way.

A good example of this barricade banging is when a young boy was sick in the hospital. A doctor who specialized in his illness was called in. While driving to the hospital the doctor was confronted at a stoplight by a man with a gun. The doctor tried to explain the dire emergency, but the man didn’t care. He wanted the doctor’s car, so the doctor gave it to him.

After the doctor finally hailed a cab and caught a train, he made it to the hospital, but it was too late, the boy had died. The doctor was shown to the family in the waiting room. There stood the man who had stolen his car. It was the boy’s father. The father refused to listen to the man who could have saved his son. Too often this is the way we treat the One who can save us. We just keep banging into the barricades over and over and over. Jesus doesn’t want this for us.

The price for our eternal journey has been paid. We just need choose the destination.