Called To Be A Pastor
Coming Along A Sweet Brother in Christ to Encourage His Calling
At times, God uses a Bible story to relate a particularly insightful and new take on some part of that story. This is what happened in this word. After giving the message to the person, I still found myself meditating on it for days to come! Prophetic messages are gifts that can keep on giving, if you don't give up mining its truth.
Here is an encounter I had at the L.A. Superior Courthouse, where a group of us set up a table every Tuesday 11am-1pm:
February 6th, 2018
I saw a dear brother coming back to our table today. I could now call him by his name, "Hey guys, here's Jeff!" Last week I met him and heard his story. He works for the city in a decently paying job. But He has felt a recent call to become a pastor and so now he is in the process of pursuing that call. Last week he asked for prayer for his family. He is having some struggles bringing his family along with his call cause it means leaving a cushy job. How will we meet the financial needs for our family? How many things will we need to change in our lives to accommodate this call? These are typical questions faced by families when "the call" comes on a family member who is the primary provider. It's a challenge, a point of tension, because the steps for financial provision are almost always not clearly laid out by God ahead of time. It's a huge step of faith, especially to a family used to a consistent and comfortable income and lifestyle. Jeff was feeling it - excited about his call - his family... not so much.
When Jeff arrives I remind the team of God's call on his life. So we chat a little with Jeff and then our eager party of prayer warriors happily surround him to cover him in prayer. We want to hear God for him. Not our agendas, not our best guesses, but a fresh word for him - hot bread from God. Many things are prayed out and well-received by Jeff - all encouraging words. I just remember mine more clearly because God revealed it to me through a picture.
As I waited on God for a word for Jeff, I saw, in my mind's eye, a picture of a pouch by his right hip. Believe it of not, I immediately knew this was about David from the Bible. David appears at a most crucial time in the life of Israel. The armies of Israel are lined up on one side of a valley, fully armed but fully scared (a defeatist attitude is a great description of this army), with the Philistine armies having the upper hand in terms of confidence, a winning attitude, and a most assured victory. David is bold and uninfluenced by the negativity in the Israelite camp. He is not having it - the making fun of God, the fear in the soldiers. It's wrong for God's army to be in this state of mind and he knows he can change it.
Oddly enough, Israel is so defeated they do not question a young man, David, ready to confront the giant Goliath who is giving his armies so much confidence of their victory. But of course, King Saul will make sure he has the best protection and weaponry for David to have a greater chance at defeating Goliath. Once David is fully covered in armor, he realizes the foolishness of this solution. He doesn't fit well into the armor and, anyhow, he has fought lions and bears and defeated them without an armor. He knows his power comes from God and not from the latest in armor protection.
So what does David take to face Goliath? A pouch with nothing in it, and a sling. That's all! He goes down to confront Goliath empty handed other than these. When he gets within range of Goliath, that's when David loads his pouch with 5 smooth rocks. That's all he needs. David is living in the moment. His safety is in God's hands alone! And David defeats Goliath with one stone striking Goliath on his forehead. Down comes Goliath, down comes the confidence of the Philistine armies. The once defeated armies of Israel recognize God is on their side and run into the battle with a newly accessed spirit of victory.
So what was God wanting me to say to Jeff out of this "pouch" visual impression? The application was a minimalist message:
In the Kingdom of God, less is more.
I reminded Jeff of what this meant in the story of David and Goliath, in Gideon's majorly-reduced army of 300 in facing an enemy many times bigger, and in the Biblical passage, "When I am weak, He is strong."
This was a message of courage and confidence in the way God works. He calls forth faith that far outweighs the physical, financial realities and challenges we face. And God loves to start small, with insignificant offerings, like... a shepherds' pouch.