At the time of this post I am reading through Edmund P. Clowney’s book, Called to the Ministry. It’s a rather small book, but despite its size it is packed with sound wisdom and Scriptural teaching and exhortation. I just finished the first half of the book (Part One: What Is God’s Calling?), which focuses on God’s calling to all Christians through Christ, the various gifts of Christians, and the way in which all Christians are to use their gifts in society and within the local church for God’s kingdom. Clowney has some very important, and personally convicting, words as he concludes this first part of the book. He speaks about the various opportunities of service that exist here and now–right where you’re at.
What opportunities do you perceive? The first doors are in the room where you are. The Lord has given you a certain set of present circumstances. Paul refers to this as a man’s ‘calling’ (1 Cor. 7:17). Like the heritage of an Israelite in the land, it is the ‘lot’ or ‘portion’ that the Lord gives you today. Here you must begin; indeed, here you must be willing to remain until other doors of opportunity are perceived and opened. The surest way to miss future opportunities is to ignore present ones. Perhaps this lesson is hardest to learn for those who are preparing for future service. Since education has gained such importance in our culture, young people often spend years being educated before any purpose in their education becomes apparent
Meaningless course-taking becomes a way of life, more real than the vaguely conceived future, but yet not life in earnest. To conclude that the major decisions affecting the course of life must be made under such circumstances can be depressing indeed. It is heartening to remember the promises of God’s faithfulness, but action is needed, too. In the student’s calling, there are today’s opportunities which God sets before us to prepare us for those of tomorrow. In the lonely student you befriend, the confused roommate you encourage, the article for the college paper that you write, or the Sunday School class you teach may lie the key to your future. It is in the service that you render whether in the classroom or out of it that your gifts are proved and manifested.
But you must seize the opportunity in the soberness of wisdom and the zeal of love.
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself thinking about and planning for the ministry opportunities I hope to partake in sometime in the future. What is most important, however, is that we give ourselves over to those opportunities the Lord has already placed before us, here and now. In faithfully doing so, the Lord will open more doors for other areas of ministry in their proper time.