Paul begins this incredible letter with these words: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” With these few words he reveals his identity and his passion. If you were writing that sentence, how would it read? For me it would be: Wayne, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be a pastor/teacher and set apart for the gospel of God. Do you know your spiritual gift? Do you live by a sense of calling that drives you to mission?
Novelist Graham Greene once wrote: “There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets in the future.” I believe that is a moment in our spiritual childhood when the door opens and lets in the future… reveals to us our calling. Maybe you are singing in church… and it dawns on us that God is calling you to lead worship. Maybe you are making a point in a Sunday School class and someone suggests that maybe God has called you to teach. Maybe a friend calls and you comfort him or her over the phone and you find just the right verse and pray just the right prayer that seemed to help… and you realize: Maybe God wants me to be a Christian counselor. It maybe that you are called to be a school teacher, or a scientist or movie director, etc. Whatever it is… pursue it with passion! Preaching the Gospel is what gets me up in the morning. It is what gets me through the hard times. Seeing the light come on in someone’s eyes is my satisfaction in life.
How about you? Do you have the passion of Paul? It is never too late. Luis Palau tells the story of a time he was in upstate New York for a week of prayer with several Presbyterian churches. One night it snowed so heavily that only a few hearty souls braved the weather to attend the meeting. An older gentleman approached him just before the service, limping and walking slowly with a cane.
“Young man,” he said “can I talk to your before you leave the area? You’re staying with friends of mine from college days. May I see you?” “Yes,” I said, and we set a time.
After the service I rode home with my host. “Luis,” he said, “that was Dr. Smith. He’s the most famous ophthalmologist on the East Coast. He’s always been in the church, but he’s never been happy. And now he wants to talk to you? This is marvelous.”
On the day of our meeting, we all sat down and began to chat. After a cup of tea, he asked my hosts to leave the room. “Young man,” he said gravely, “I’ve got to ask you a question. When I was at university, John R. Mott, the well-known missionary, came to our school and challenged medical students to go and help the poor in certain parts of the world—in the Middle East and in Afghanistan. I felt the Lord sending me out, as well as my brother. But when I told my family and my fiancée, they all made fun of me, booed me down. When I graduated from university, I came out with really good prospects. I turned down the Lord’s call and married my sweetheart—we’ve been married now for forty years.
“But you know something, young man? I’ve now retired, I’ve made my little money, I’ve written my books—but my son is going to hell because of me. He’s an atheist. For forty-two years I’ve never had a day of peace in my life. Now I’m an old man and on my way out, because my illness is serious. I want to go with my wife to Afghanistan to try and help the many people with poor vision. But my wife refuses to go. And now I want to ask you a question, and I’m going to act on your word: shall I go, or shall I not go?”
Oh boy, Luis thought, what a decision to make. He felt an impulse that he hoped came from the Lord, and put his arms around this gentleman and said, “Doctor, you go.”
He clung to Luis and began to weep. “Oh, Lord,” he cried, “I’m going! I’m going and no one will stop me.” Then he prayed a prayer and left. And that was it.
Six months later Luis called up his former hosts and said, “How are you doing? And how is Doctor Smith?” “Haven’t you heard?” his friend asked. “No.” “He’s in Afghanistan with his wife. He’s like a teenager all over. He is so excited. He returned to the States once already to visit the big pharmaceutical companies, pick up tons of medicine, and take it all back to Afghanistan. He’s working for a while with a missionary, and he says he’s never been so happy. But his body’s falling apart.”
The following Easter Luis visited New York for a week of evangelism. There was the doctor, his body a wreck. He could hardly talk by now, but he met Luis at a luncheon. “Luis,”
he whispered, “thank you for making me go to Afghanistan. I redeemed all the lost forty-two years in just one year! I’ll never see you again except in the presence of the King, and I’ll see you there.” About two months later the faithful physician went to be with the Lord. (High Definition Living, pp. 138-140.)
It’s not too late to proclaim the Gospel with clarity, purpose and passion!