When Jesus shows up, everything changes.
I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking. (Ezek. 1:28). Here’s what he heard.
“He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand up on your feet . . .'” (Ezek. 2:1). Jesus wanted Ezekiel to be fully alert. He was about to receive orders.
“‘. . . and I will speak with you.’ As He spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and I listened to the One who was speaking to me” (Ezek. 2:2). It was God’s way of saying, “Now that I have your attention, listen to me. I don’t want you to miss my instructions.”
An Appearance of Christ is Moving
“He said to me: ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites . . .'” (Ezek. 2:3). God was saying, “Ezekiel, the task that I have for you requires action.” Have you ever noticed that two-thirds of God is go. Always, there is an action component to the call of God. Rarely can we stay where we are, do what we’ve always been doing, and fulfill the call of God upon our lives. Ezekiel came to realize this and so must we.
“‘The children are obstinate and hardhearted. I am sending you to them, and you must say to them: This is what the Lord GOD says. Whether they listen or refuse [to listen] – for they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them. “But you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words” (Ezek. 2:4-6). God said, “I’ve got a message for my people. You will communicate that message. It’s not your message. It’s my message. Your job is to deliver it, whether they listen or not, and whether you are afraid or not.” God’s truth is not dependent on human response. God would not judge Ezekiel for how well others responded to his message, but for how faithful he was in presenting it. Ezekiel was a spokesperson for God, his very mouthpiece. God appointed Ezekiel as “a watchman over the house of Israel” (Ezek. 3:17). A watchman stood on the city wall and warned the people of approaching danger. Ezekiel’s role was to be a spiritual watchman, warning people of coming judgment. There is a fundamental connection between being a watchman and warning, between being a spokesperson and speaking, between being a mouthpiece and opening our mouths to let words come out.
“‘Open your mouth and eat what I am giving you’ . . . So I opened my mouth, and He fed me the scroll” (Ezek. 2:8, 3:2). I find it interesting that the name Ezekiel means “God is strong” or “God makes strong.” For him to be strong, he had to feed on the nourishment of God’s Word. For The Word of God is life giving. Just as we need food for physical life, we need God’s Word for spiritual life. When we digest God’s Word, we find that not only does it make us stronger in our faith, but also its wisdom sweetens our lives. This means doing more than simply giving God’s message a casual glance, like looking through a bakery window. It means making the Word part of our lives, like eating a balanced diet that sustains and nourishes us to health and productivity.
An Appearance of Christ is Empowering
This was Ezekiel’s call to be a prophet.
Often we think of a prophet as being a foreteller, one who predicts the future. Actually, most biblical prophets were not foretellers, they were “forth tellers.” They had a message from God to tell, usually a message of warning and judgment. And often prophets had to tell it to a less than receptive audience, in a less than pleasant time. It pained them to tell of impending judgment. Like the beloved preacher, they proclaimed their warnings, with tears in their eyes.
So why would someone want to be a prophet? Why would someone want to share a message to a group of people who would rather have their head on a platter than hear the message? Why would someone pronounce a judgment that brought such hurt and pain to them and their audience? The answer is because the prophet was called.
What ambassador would think of going to a country as representative of his homeland, without being sent? What solider would go to a war torn country risking life and limb, without orders? What missionary would go to a foreign country to endure the pain and hardships of a sacrificed life, without being commissioned?
An Appearance of Christ is Compelling
What does all of this have to do with most people? All are not prophets, preachers or pastors. So what’s the point?
In the movie The Blues Brothers, a couple of ex-convict-wanna-be-musicians were trying to raise money for an orphanage. Anytime they were asked about their work, they had a standard response: “We’re on a mission from God.” They always said it, as if they believed it. The very idea that two inept, unworthy human beings could be on a mission from God was, of course, the central joke of the whole story.
Here is the story of our lives: We are on a mission from God.
God is calling us. God’s calls are not exclusive to pastors and missionaries. He calls plumbers and managers as well. For that matter, he calls some to be electricians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, chemists, sales persons, and housewives. He calls some to secular vocations, others to sacred vocations. A calling is not something reserved for those going into full-time Christian service.
Granted, we don’t hear much about calling anymore, because our society is educated to think in terms of career. A calling is something God chooses for me. A career is something I choose for myself. A career promises status, money, or power; a calling generally promises difficulty and even some suffering – but it’s a mission, an opportunity to be used by God. A career is about upward mobility; a calling generally leads to downward mobility. A career ends with retirement and lots of “toys.” A calling isn’t over until the day you die. The rewards of a career may be quite visible, but temporary. The results of a calling may never be seen on this side of eternity.
Often we think that ministry requires a calling and the marketplace is choosing a career. But that is not true. It is quite possible to turn a ministry into a career that focuses on advancement and achievement. On the other hand, it is quite possible to make a business a calling that is truly done to serve God and others.
In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery.
“Your Majesty,” said Prior Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard, because you have been a king.”
“I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”
“Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.”
When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The king learned to rule by being obedient.”
Ezekiel was obedient to the call of God upon his life. Are you being obedient to the call of God upon your life? God can turn our career into a calling. Sometimes the end of a career is the beginning of a calling. At other times, God chooses to take people out of the security of their careers and call them into a Christian ministry. Since everyone has one, what is your mission from God?
Is God trying to break through to us? Is he waking us up to a specific calling? Do you need to humble yourself before God? Get in a posture to really hear from God? Or maybe you have heard from God, you know the call of God upon your life, it’s time to stand up, listen up and move in that direction. When Jesus shows up, everything changes.
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