Oh my God! This really is God calling! I may have mentioned this once before but what if your phone rang, doesn’t matter whether it’s your cell or your landline, and you saw in the caller ID “I Am”, what would be your response?
It can’t really be Him. It must be one of my friends. Someone is playing with me. But then you push the talk button and say, “He….llo???” And you know with the first sound of the voice that it’s really the Man, God, the Great I AM. Now what do you do?
This happened to Moses. It wasn’t a phone ringing it was just a burning bush but still when he went to investigate what was going on with the bush he heard a voice calling to him by name and he answered, “Yeesss? I’m right here.” Then God stopped him and said, “Hold it right there.” “Just wait a minute.” “Take your shoes off.” “This is holy ground.”
Jesus said in this morning’s gospel lesson that those who answer the call he gives to follow him must turn over control to him. They aren’t in the driver’s seat any longer, He is. Anyone who ever said that following Jesus was easy, anyone could do it, didn’t read this part. Did you hear it? He said, “Don’t run from suffering, embrace it.” “Follow me and I’ll show you how.” “Self-sacrifice is the way to do it.” That’s Jesus’ way to finding yourself, your true self.
Jesus said here, “What good is it if you get everything you want but lose yourself.” Luke put it another way. He said, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?”
What is the real you? What does it mean to lose yourself? No one knows the real you but you…and God. The real you, the you way down deep inside, is our soul. It’s who we really are. And that’s what we are in danger of losing if we make the choice to follow our own whims and desires instead of heeding the call to follow Jesus.
How do any of us know if it is really God who is calling us to work at a particular thing or in a certain place? I truly believe that when God calls you will know. Maybe it won’t show up on your caller ID but believe me you will know. And if you don’t respond, God is patient; he will keep ringing your bell until you hear it and answer.
So we answer the call, then what? I think Paul’s letter to the Romans gives us some pretty good one-liners to get us started.
He begins with love, real love, not the fake kind, genuine love. Love that really cares how you feel. You know what that kind of love is like.
Watch out for evil. Beat feet when it comes near. Get a good grip on the good things.
Be good to your friends, the ones who love deeply, the ones who will never desert you no matter how grumpy you are. Learn what it’s like to be of service to others. In service to others we learn to deny the importance of our own lives; only in service to the least and the lost can we understand and accept the role of suffering in Jesus’ life as Messiah and in our own lives as his followers.
Don’t burn out. Take time to refuel and keep the fire hot. Be alert to what God is doing around and within you. Be cheerfully expectant.
When times get hard, and they will, don’t quit. Pray harder. Wear the knees of your jeans out praying.
Help those in need. Do something different when you are welcoming strangers. Bless those who you would like to curse.
Laugh often with your happy friends and cry with them when they cry. Get along with each other.
Don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with people you would never think of as being your friends. Be careful; don’t think you know it all. You don’t.
See the wondrous beauty in everyone. It’s there, the Holy Spirit will help you see it.
Treat the one you can’t stand, your enemy, to a fine meal. Boy will they be surprise. If he’s thirsty, find out what he likes and get it for him. Don’t let evil get the better of you. Get the best of evil by doing all the good you can.
God’s calling. It may not show up on your caller ID but you will know it’s him. Stop what you’re doing and answer like Samuel did. Just say, “Speak, your servant is listening.” And then listen.
Friends, hear the words from a Storyteller.
Last week Jesus asked "who do you say that I am?"Unlike Peter, I threw my hands up and said "Whatever!"After all, what I say he ishe keeps beating down the walls and won’t be containedI say he is sweet and gentle and kindthen he calls some indigenous mother with a sick daughter a dawg!And when I say he is a soft, kindergarten sorta rabbihe calls his star student Satan!and if I would have said he is the liberator of a people oppressed by Roman colonial rulewhat a disappointment when he sayshe will sufferhe will be killedand talk of death does eclipse the third day resurrection promisebut here I amOne of the "some standing here who will not taste deathbefore they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom"my changed heart is testimony to some standing here
Friends, dare to tell the rest of the story.Jesus did.Maybe we too often tell the glory side onlyLeaving the hearers thinking its all coming up roses and blue skiesBut the other half of the story is that the road to glory is a difficult roadsuffering, rejection, mockery, death.This half of the story is the one that we are afraid to tellWhen the pastor is asked "What's in it for me?"We want to say "Glory!"Dare to say "First the suffering, then the glory"
Friends, God is calling us. Listen. Thank you God for the call.