Archive for April 21st, 2008

The Work Of A Lifetime

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Today’s scripture: Luke 3:23-38 (ESV-text and audio) (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two.

My thoughts (Jeff Miner):

Ah, the dreaded genealogy passage! When I first saw my assignment to write on this passage, I was convinced it was part of an evil plot — schemed by our Church Communications Minister, David Squire, who assigns and edits our Be Still devotionals. I could see him chuckling with delight at the thought of me sweating bullets to figure out something to say about this obscure passage.

Then it occurred to me maybe God was doing this to me — reminding me of the principle of sowing and reaping. After all those years when I asked our former Worship Minister (Julie Benson) to find songs to sing after sermons I preached on obscure subjects, now my chickens were coming home to roost!

Anyway, once I got over my initial panic and settled into this passage, it spoke powerfully to me. Right now at Jesus MCC, we’re in a Sunday sermon series in which we’re exploring different ways to pray. Yesterday we talked about “praying the Scriptures” — an ancient Christian practice sometimes known as lectio divina (Latin for “sacred reading”). Lectio divina is based on the idea that God has something very personal and specific to say to each one of us when we read a Scripture passage. When we read the Scriptures this way, we begin with a prayer that the Holy Spirit will guide us to recognize the precise message God has for us in the passage for this time in our lives. Then we read the passage, slowly, prayerfully, with expectation — waiting for a word, phrase, verse, or idea to jump off the page and grab our attention.

As I read today’s passage in that fashion, two phrases leaped off the page and arrested my attention. Both phrases occur in verse 23 (New Revised Standard Version):

Phrase one: “he began his work.”

Phrase two: “(as was thought)”

Let’s examine each phrase. First, “Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his work.” The phrase is pregnant with excitement. All of the preliminaries were now out of the way. Jesus had been born, had grown up, and now it was time to launch into the core of the work for which he had come to earth. It’s not that his first thirty years had no meaning. He had, no doubt, done many wonderful things. But the first thirty years would pale in comparison to the fruitfulness of the phase of life Jesus was about to enter.

Three, two, one, blast off! Look out world!

My guess is that, when our lives are done, each of us will be able to look back across the years and see a similar pattern. While all of life is important — every day a gift of opportunity — there are certain seasons in life when we sense, “This is why I was created! This is the work I was meant to do.” For some that season may begin with the birth of a child. For others it may mean teaching in our schools. For others, fighting fires or rescuing animals. For me, the launch point came on January 5, 1997. That’s when I left my career as an attorney for my first day of work as Pastor of Jesus MCC. I had waited 39 years to find a way to a calling that was always just below the surface ruminating. Then the time finally came.

I believe those seasons of great productivity come for each of us, sometimes more than once, if we move through life with awareness — which brings us to the second key phrase, found in the first sentence of Jesus’ genealogy: “He was the son (as was thought) of Joseph son of Heli. . . .” Superficially, Jesus was the son of Joseph. But at the core of his being, he was the Son of God.

Each of us has a similar dual identity. In the eyes of casual observers, I am the son of Gordon and Katie Miner. I’m proud of my parents, and I love and honor my family identity. But I have an identity that goes far deeper. At the core of my being, I am a child of God.

Which brings everything full circle. The highest and most important work of our lives is to be found when we get in touch with our core identity as children of God. There is something you have been placed here on earth to do for God that nobody else can.

Thought for the day: People may think you’re the child of ordinary humans. In reality, you’re here on a supernatural mission. If you live with that awareness, alert for the opportunities God places before you, you will experience seasons of incredible productivity — in God’s time. Live with the excitement of that anticipation!

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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