“The Race Marked Out for Us…”
February 3, 2021
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1, NIV 1984).
He sat across from me, asking for a letter of recommendation to match in residency. He had once thought he would consider oncology, where I had trained him, but now he was confident he would pursue pathology. He told me, “One of the real difficulties for me as a Christian has been to love pathology but realize I would not be able to witness to patients in that profession. It’s been a struggle for me to imagine myself as God’s witness in the profession I love. God helped me recently when my wife and I were reading the parable of the lost sheep, where Jesus left the 99 to save the one. God spoke to me and helped me realize that my colleagues and those I work with could be the ‘one.’ God may not want me to save the world, but to be a faithful witness to my colleagues and staff. I am now confident that this is God’s plan.” I responded, “To serve in pathology as a loving witness to those around you is as valuable as any plan on earth, if God has chosen it for you. I know a number of pathologists who are Christ-followers, and I can connect you with them.”
This medical student imagined how he might best serve God with his life, but his imagined plan was not God’s plan.
Each of us has imagined how we might live for God. These imaginations may be God’s whisper, but they also may be daydreams that could lead us to the wrong path in life. Not uncommonly, such thoughts might direct some of us to move toward a change in occupation or location that may not be God’s best plan for our lives.
The truth is, if we truly desire God’s best plan, most of us should remain right where we are and live a different life, a life of local surrender. We should surrender to serve God fully where He has placed us (and probably planned for us all along). God may want to move us someday, so we should be listening for His call, but we should not be dreaming of change based on external circumstances or personal logic. Perseverance-in-place with sacrificial service should be our default position unless God clearly leads us elsewhere.
Our imaginations are not necessarily good surrogates for God’s will. They are often wrapped up and trapped in things that make us happy or sad. It is certainly right to dream of a better place for kingdom service. Those dreams might be true and should be seriously offered to God to clarify. But, if most of us followed our imaginations, few would be left to be day-by-day consistent Christ followers and one-day-at-a-time deliberate witnesses for the one-lost person-at-a-time around us. I suspect this has always been God’s best plan to redeem humanity, even as some are called by God to a different path.
So, we should dream and imagine where God might lead in sacrificial service, and we should go where He does lead, regardless of our dreams. In the meantime, I need to hunker down and serve fully where I am unless He clearly calls me away.
Oswald Chambers said, “Consecration is not the giving over of the calling in life to God, but the separation from all other callings and the giving over of ourselves to God, letting his providence place us where he will—in business, or law, or science; in workshop, in politics or in drudgery.”
Let me move if You say, “Move,” and persevere with surrender if You are silent.