Heathdale flower 14th November 2019

A Guiding Practice

Jesus had a deep sense of His calling, an example that can help guide us.

Heathdale flower

A practice that I tried to cultivate when my children were growing up was to try and find time once a month when I would spend time with each of them individually. This involved simple activities like going for a walk together, kicking a football, playing basketball, going to the movies or even going out for breakfast. I remember these as treasured times and moments where we spoke about a whole lot of things from the trivial to the significant. On one occasion my eldest son and I were reflecting on his school days. In the midst of us recalling various funny events my son turned to me and said, “Dad, you know what, I think I’m ready to do Year 12 now!” My response needed to be measured, so I asked, “Why do you think you’re ready now as opposed to five years ago when you were actually in Year 12?” I’d have to say I loved his reply.

He said, “Dad, when I was in Year 12, I had no idea what I really wanted to do, I wasn’t focussed, I dabbled in things and lacked direction. Now I know what I’d like to do.” Upon reflection, I’d have to agree. He, like many of us, struggled to have a clear sense of direction. The way forward can sometimes feel ‘foggy’ and many of us just long to have this understanding.

I was reminded of this recently when I read the following passage from the book of John:

“Jesus responded, I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me. This, in a nutshell, everything handed over to me by the Father be completed, not a single detail missed and at the wrap-up of time I have everything, and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time." John 6:37-40

One of the characteristics of Christ that I really admire is His sense of call and understanding of the purpose God has for Him. There’s a sense of Jesus being single-minded, which many Bible Commentators describe as focussed determination, but it can also be understood as a deep and clear understanding of what God wants Him to do.

Even the most casual reader of the Gospels cannot help but notice that Jesus had a deep sense of direction for His life. The first glimpse we have of this is provided by the words that He spoke, as a 12-year-old, to His mother, Mary. “Did you not see and know that it is necessary for me to be in My Father’s House and going about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49) When He commenced His public ministry, Jesus spoke constantly of the mission that lay before Him, namely the cross! It is quite clear that He allowed nothing to divert Him from the understanding of this calling. As Jesus strides through the Gospels He appears to have one thing uppermost in His mind: fulfilling His Father’s will!

If I were to ask the question, ‘what is it that guides you?’ I wonder how you’d respond. What would you say is the thing that helps to direct you and provides you with a sense of focus? When I grapple with such questions, I find Mark 10:45 to be of great comfort. In this verse Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” I find this passage helpful especially in light of the events that took place just before Jesus uttered these words. James’ and John’s mother requests of Jesus that one day in the future one of her sons could sit on His right hand and the other on His left hand. Jesus responds in a counter intuitive way by saying that if you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, then you must be a servant. If the followers of Jesus were to have a sense of purpose, a call on their lives, then they needed to become just like Jesus, and to do that, they needed to be willing to serve! This was a difficult concept for the disciples to grasp and if the truth be known, it is just as difficult for you and me too! However, we cannot live a Godly life unless we understand what it means to live to serve God and one another.

As the Staff and I look at Jesus as our example of a servant, we discover that He did not stop serving the Father and this is what each of us is called to do. As we live out this calling, we understand that this is the basis of our purpose; it sets the direction for our lives. The challenge of servanthood is considerable. It’s not necessarily an easy call to follow. Being like Jesus in this manner is a life-long quest. Our prayer of encouragement to you and to the students placed in our care is that you too can embrace and fulfil the call God has placed on each of us to follow Him and to serve one another.