Choices, all of us make them every day. We have to choose what clothes we’re going to wear, what coat to put on, what we’re going to eat for breakfast, whether we’re going to get groceries today or wait until the snow has melted or the temperature has improved. We choose whether we’re going to support one political candidate or another, or none of them. We choose whether we’re going to go out or stay home.
There are some of us who really believe that we’re here today because we chose to come. But is that really true? And some of us believe we made the choice to follow Jesus.
Let’s look again at the scriptures beginning with Jonah. God’s word came to Jonah and called him to get…”up on your feet and on your way to the big city of Nineveh! They’re in a bad way and I can’t ignore it any longer.”
First off Jonah did make a decision. It was to go in the opposite direction. Then, after some particularly persuasive circumstances, Jonah decided to listen to God’s call to go to Nineveh. He turned around and headed straight for the big city.
Friends, was it Jonah’s choice, really? Or…could it be that God had chosen Jonah and he, God, wasn’t going to change his mind about that? He didn’t want anyone else for this job.
What about the fishermen Jesus invited to…”Come…” Was it their choice or God’s? Did they have another option? They could have said, “No, I’m too busy. Maybe later.” But they didn’t. Was it their choice or did God just know that they would follow Jesus? What do you think?
Let’s get back to our choices. Are we here as God’s church because of our choices? Or…are we here because God chose us, because he called us and then we came?
Are there other examples where God called people and they were reluctant to answer his call? What about Moses? Or Gideon? Or Elijah? Or Abram? These men didn’t totally trust God at one time or another. Moses didn’t think he could speak for God to the people. He didn’t think they would listen to him. He tried to talk God out of choosing him. But God wanted Moses, so God gave him Aaron and he went.
Gideon wanted all sorts of proof that the voice he heard was really God’s voice. When God did everything Gideon asked Gideon had no choice but to follow God’s call to lead the people into battle.
Elijah, after he had massacred the prophets of Baal with God’s help, and after Jezebel threatened to get even with him, then he ran for dear life. He went into the wilderness to die. He’d had enough. But God had other plans. He hid in the mountains until God whispered to him and then he went to anoint the king, Hazael, God had chosen.
Each of these men was called to perform a particular piece of work for God. And at one point or another they wavered. But God didn’t. He had chosen them and he didn’t change his mind. He didn’t want to change his mind because he knew they were perfect for the task he had for them.
So, when we feel that tug on our heart to do something we’ve never done before, something we don’t feel equipped to do should we turn and go the opposite direction like Jonah? Or…should we do like Simon and Andrew and drop everything and follow the Teacher?
Even if we do decide to go the opposite direction what if we feel the tug of the Spirit again? Do we want to take a chance and keep going…or should we stop and turn back? Remember what happened to Jonah?
Choices, we do have them but I’m convinced that if God had called us then he has chosen us and it’s not likely he’s going to change his mind. We do have the freedom to choose to go the opposite direction but that might not be the wisest decision to make.
Thank God the disciples didn’t say no. Thank God Moses did go to Egypt and lead God’s people through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Thank God for those who have preceded us, the ones who taught us in Sunday school, the ones who mentored us, the ones who shared their faith stories with us. Thank God for them and their courage to answer God’s call.
God still calls us to particular work. And it’s not just to preach or do mission work. I believe everyone of us is called. And yes, we do have a choice. God doesn’t twist our arms but…don’t forget Jonah, or Moses. If God calls then he wants you and no one else. How will you answer when God calls you?
Thanks be to God for his gracious patience. Amen.