For years, I’ve really liked the verse John 17:4 which reads: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” This is taken from the “High Priestly Prayer” of Jesus. I thought the timing of this statement was a bit odd (pre-crucifixion and pre-resurrection), but what really made me stand in awe was simply thinking about the peace that come from knowing what it is that God has given me to accomplish, and simply working on that instead of the millions of other good ideas that fight for my time.
Recently, this idea has come again and again. Just a few weeks ago, I posted about my desire to learn as much as I can in order to be more and more useful to the Lord. And, while I am still pursuing that great goal, I also realize that I’m not called to be a master of all things. I don’t know if I can point out each and everything that God has given me to accomplish in this life, but I can begin now to identify things that ARE NOT mine. The place that I most realize some of these things is on Google Reader. I love to read a wide array of blogs, but it’s really gotten out of hand. I find so many topics interesting even if I will never have any use for that information. For instance, I have been reading a good bit regarding the emerging/emergent church. But, will I ever meet an emergent church advocate in the Muslim world? Probably not. Do I need to be an expert on the EM to accomplish the work in the Muslim World that God has given me? Not at all. Granted, there is some overlap b/w the EM and some erroneous missiologies being practiced on the field, but why read EM stuff which seems to be focused in places with a high ratio of coffee shops to humans in the Urban Centers of the U.S. and much less in the Majority World (2/3 World, 3rd World, etc). I sort of rabbit trailed there for a minute. Another topic that I’m NOT called to be an expert in, no matter how facinating I find it is Pauline studies. But, I see these blogs dissecting the minutest details regarding the New Perspective or Campbell’s new book about Romans, etc. and my first thought is, “I need that book and I need to read all the reviews in the stratosphere about it.” But, that’s not my calling. I know others, very gifted men and women, who have that calling, but I don’t. Why don’t I email or call one of them and say, “Give me the skinny on this issue” if I ever really have need to dig into it for some strange reason. Or I can ask for a book recommendation about a topic that I need to know more about whenver that need actually arises instead of constantly trying to keep up with a million and one issues all the time, much to the neglect of my actual calling.
Does this make sense? I challenge myself on this thought sometimes, asking if I’m being lazy, or concocting scenarios where knowing all of this might be useful, but I’m certain that focusing on one’s calling should require more time that the other 1,000,001 things, and that most likely God is going to judge me according to how I’ve handled His calling. Sure, I could read almost any book about the faith and find something enriching in it, and I can tell myself it’s worth reading a 500 page book just for the possibility of that small random enrichment or I can be honest and say that I need greater intellectual discipline. I need to think more deeply about much fewer topics. I’m a mile wide and an inch deep.
I want to continue to grow in knowledge, even in breadth, and I’m doing that through my reading of the Western Classics, but I’m trying to give up my addiction to expertise. Truth is with my calling, I couldn’t be an expert in any of those other things anyway…and they are just limbs that need lopping off.
Finally, it is with joy that I anticipate much more time with my family, greater depth of reading in my own field of calling, and fewer less-than-well-informed arguments about other fields in which I am not an expert, since I knew enough to be dangerous, but too little to be useful. Lord, keep this vision of focusing on the things that YOU have for me before my eyes all the time. Take away the hubris within me that demands that I know something about everything. And cause me to give my time to those things that I know without a doubt that you have given me – Family and Ministry to Muslims.