Christmas morning at my brother’s house is a loud, fun experience. They still have young children who scamper all around with the anticipation of gifts under the tree, and who scream with delight when the package meets or exceeds their expectations. With both of our boys in college, we have passed those years (and price points!).
So it was a little odd as we all sat in the cacophony of the living room that my brother would all of a sudden say "everybody outside. Now."
He had gotten a call from a friend of his by the name of Tom. Tom was flying his stunt plane over my brother’s house, and was going to give us a personal air show. We went out to the yard. We positioned ourselves where we could see the most sky, and looked to the West for a plane. Nothing. Nothing… And then it appeared, this little plane circled around us, and then took a dive behind the woods in front of us, and vrooommm! barn stormed the house to the shudders of the old people and the shrieks of delight of the young. We couldn’t see him again for the trees until he started to circle around again, gaining altitude, then on the second pass, almost on top of us he climbed, did a couple of barrel rolls, stalled, turned around, got the thing running again and vrooommm! was gone again. The third time he came towards us, climbed and did a whole reverse loop, now to the shrieks of delight of the young and old. And just like that, he was gone, talking to my brother on their cell phones.
Tom, and I don’t know his last name, didn’t know how to fly a year and a half ago. My brother tells me that he felt called by God to serve as a missionary, and specifically to be a missionary pilot somewhere in Africa. He made application to a mission board, started taking lessons, and now, a year and a half later, here he is flying stunts. As a missionary kid, I remember flying in a little Cessna to a remote part of Costa Rica, in the mountains on to a very short runway. I can see where stunt flying skills might come in handy for a missionary pilot!
I firmly believe that if God calls us to something, He will give us the skills to accomplish the assignment. God is not limited to our skill set to accomplish His purposes. And as a matter of fact, every gift or ability that you and I have has come from God. Oswald Chambers pushes this thought to the extreme when he says: "every virtue we possess is His alone." I like that – God has a purpose for every good thing in our life.
I don’t know Tom. I don’t know what skills and interests he had before. I don’t even know if the "year and a half" estimate of my brother’s is accurate. But what I do know is that Tom would not be doing what he was doing if two things had not happened. One is that he was called to a task. And the second is that he had to learn to fly. He sought instruction, and has been practicing ever since.
All of us are called to ministry in the church in some form or fashion. Some tasks will demand more from us than we have the skill set to do. And that’s OK. God will provide the tools necessary to accomplish our call. Ours is simply to avail ourselves to the call. And as we come to January, I think of our District training, a place where people come from all around our District to learn about doing their job in whatever area they have been called to serve in. I hope that you will seek training to accomplish God’s will in your life. You may be in our District, and should come January 17th to Christ Church in Ft. Lauderdale. You may be reading this in another state, or in Europe or elsewhere, and while we will miss you here, the message is still the same: "He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God's Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ." (Ephesians 4:10-13 The Message).
My prayer for you in this New Year is that you see God’s hand working in your life, "equipping you for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:17).
Happy New Year!
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6