…if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. Isaiah 58:10
Reading a Kindle sample excerpt from an e-book, the phrase “spend yourself well” struck a chord. Writing on transformative community mission, the author was making a point that our daily lives bring many demands and many distractions and that it’s important to be wise in how we invest our earthly life. How do we spend ourselves well? The reality is that if we don’t have a clear sense of what we are to say ‘yes’ to, we don’t know what to say ‘no’ to. The end result? Either we say no to everything and do nothing. Or we say yes to everything and end up exhausted. And, either way, there will be little in the way of the Eternal to show for it.
In the life of Christ, we can see that He had a clear, concrete sense of His calling.
· Though he acceded to his mother’s request and performed his first miracle at the Canaan wedding, He told her “My hour has not yet come”. There was a readying for ministry and a right time to begin.
· At times through His ministry, Jesus chose to limit His working - Matthew 13:58: And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. He exercised wisdom on where it was most effective for Him to work.
· In the lead up to the Passover in Jerusalem the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus. Knowing this and seeking to ensure all prophecy concerning Him was fulfilled, Jesus chose to keep a low profile - John 11:54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews. He protected His calling, letting the bigger purpose guide His steps.
· In His time with his disciples, Jesus was careful in what he shared and when. In John 16:4 Jesus says, “These things I did not say to you at the beginning. Later in verse 12 he adds, “ I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Timeliness was important.
With so much need in the world, the pressure is always on ‘to do’ something. And certainly, as followers of Jesus Christ, it is our responsibility ‘to do’. But Jesus’ example is not one of frenetically doing everything. Jesus was clear on His calling and it shaped the outworking of it.
Sometimes, maybe often, we are less clear. How do we gain clarity? Asking God to make it plain is the starting point. So, pray about it, ask Him to speak through His word as you read. Give yourself some headspace - and heartspace - to think on what moves you in this world. Talk to wise, trusted others about what they see in you. If it remains unclear, ask God to burden your heart.
The risk we run in not seeking a clarity in calling, is that, though busy in our endeavours, we won’t know how much of our labour is wheat, how much is chaff.
Joy awaits in the confidence that in this life we are spending ourselves well.