“Good News of Great Joy,” Day 11: Reading the Signs

December 10, 2015

booklet_coverI recently created a 26-day Advent devotional booklet for my church called “Good News of Great Joy.” I will be posting a devotional from it each day between now and Christmas day. Enjoy!

Scripture: Luke 1:36-37

Mary, an unmarried 13-year-old girl, pregnant by an act of the Holy Spirit, was now a part of God’s cosmic plan of salvation. She was now responsible for bringing God’s own Son, the Messiah and Savior, into the world. It was so much to take in! So God gave her a sign as a source of encouragement, strength, and comfort: Elizabeth, her relative, has conceived, and she’s having a baby. In spite of the fact that Elizabeth and her husband, Zechariah, were previously unable to have kids and are now past childbearing years.

I can relate to Mary’s experience—at least a tiny bit.

When God first called me into pastoral ministry many years ago, I sitting in church, listening to my pastor’s sermon. I started daydreaming. I imagined myself standing in the pulpit, preaching this same sermon on this same text. And as I imagined myself doing it, I felt an intuition, a tug on my heart, something like a voice saying to my spirit, “You should be doing this.”

I told Lisa about this experience on the ride home from church. I said, at least half-jokingly, “Maybe I should become a pastor!” And Lisa said, “I think you should.” And I’m like, “Whoa! Come on. You know I was just joking!” But her words were actually a small sign that this was something I should think about and pray about.

But it was a lot for me to take in. I had already changed careers once. I had gone back to school in my mid-20s to get an engineering degree, and I was happily working as an engineer. God already “called me” to do that! You mean God had yet another plan for me?

It would be so disruptive to my life and my family. We owned a home. We had a young daughter and another child on the way. How could I afford to quit my job and go to an expensive seminary?

Months later, I was with my friend Mike at the Music Midtown festival in Atlanta. Mike was my best friend from college. I hadn’t seen him in years. He had been out west and only recently moved back into town.

So we were at this concert, catching up on one another’s lives. I was telling him about my job, and I volunteered reluctantly that I was thinking and praying about becoming a pastor. And without skipping a beat, Mike said, “I can definitely see that. I think you should!” That was another sign!

Is God calling you to do something for him? There’s a great line in a song by a singer-songwriter named John Hiatt that goes: “You wouldn’t know a burning bush if it blew up in your face.”

What about us? Would we know a “burning bush” when we saw one?

What “signs” has God given you to encourage you, to strengthen your faith, or to reassure you? Can you name them? Spend time praising God for his faithfulness.

📲 Watch this funny clip from The Office. Don’t we all want the kind of Christmas that Stanley describes?

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