What's Next

Text: Luke 4:42-44
At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them.  But he said to them, ‘I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.’ So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea. (NRSV)

I want to look at this same text within more of the context of Luke’s writing.  Yesterday, I admitted that I was taking it out of context but that I felt God speaking to me through it.  Today, I hear this text speaking to me from within, what I believe to be, the context in which Luke intended it.

Jesus has been doing amazing things in the community in which he finds himself.  He has been healing and casting out demons.  The crowds have grown, and they want him to stay with them and continue to do what he has been doing.  They want him to put down roots in their town and care for them.

One could easily describe this as a success story.  If Jesus were just a rabbi and a healer, this would be an incredible beginning for his career.  But Jesus is not just a rabbi and a healer, Jesus is the Son, and he is on a very specific mission from the Father.  He has come to share the good news that God’s kingdom has come near in him.  He has come to share the fact that God desires to be in an intimate relationship with everyone.  He has come to share the love and grace of God that leads to salvation and eternal life.  And, he has come to share it in as many places as he can.

The thought that comes to me within this context, is that I can be easily distracted from God’s primary call on my life.  I can easily feel like I’m doing a good thing right where I am in the very way that I am.  This feeling has the real potential for causing me to resist change, even when that change is what keeps me on track with God’s plan for my life.

I’m reminded of how I had spent 11 years in my former church and things were going very well. According to the records kept in the church, it had grown to its largest average attendance since its beginning.  There was little if not any conflict.  The church was doing more community outreach.  The youth group was reaching unchurched kids that were also attending our worship services.  Some of the unchurched youth’s parents were even beginning to attend.  We had gone on mission trips in other states, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic.  

So, when I was told that the Bishop had intended to reappoint me to another church, I fought it as hard as I could.  I was successful where I was, I was comfortable where I was, I wanted to stay where I was.  But deep inside, I also knew that the ministry to which God had called me, was one in which I had agreed to serve God in the United Methodist Church and to go where the Bishop sent me.  He sent me here to Absecon where Linda and I were received with open arms and amazing love.  This appointment has truly been the best appointment of my career.  God knows best.

Have you allowed your comfort to keep you from doing the things God has put upon your heart?  Are you allowing “success” to keep you from moving forward and following God’s plan for your life?  Have you allowed your comfort or success to keep you from even listening to see if God has more planned for you?

Pray with me:

God of love and God of sending speak into my heart that I might always be looking for what is next.  Do not let me become so comfortable or successful that I stop listening for your new callings on my life.  AMEN.

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