Whatever you’ve been called to, the measure is within you.
"I pray out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”
I’ve had this thought swirling in my head for a good few months. We’ve all been called to different things. Sometimes the calling is a dream you can’t shake from your heart; it’s something that gets your blood pumping up and fills you with excitement. Sometimes that calling is like a fire in your bones you’ve shut up inside of you for so long that it’s more wearying to hold it in than to just let that to let it loose in full force.
Then there are the times in which the hand we’ve been dealt isn’t one we ever wanted or even saw coming… yet here we are wearing the scar of it, carrying around the weight in the bags under our eyes and the feebleness of our spirit.
I think a lot about my parents. They’ve lived much of their lives taking care of us kids, all six of us, and yeah, that makes sense cause that’s what you do as a parent… but what you don’t necessarily see about what they’ve been given is that they’ve had to see their second son serve multiple tours in Iraq, and they’ve had to watch their third son go through multiple trips to the ICU with serious brain traumas as a result of car accidents and long boarding accidents, and they’ve had to go through the fright of their first son having a stroke on the other side of the country, and most recently they’ve lived through their fourth son being diagnosed with MS, having uncontrollable seizures, a medically induced comma, top it off with a brain virus that nearly took his life, over a month in hospitals, and now stay in a neuro-rehab facility with significant short term memory loss issues- all in the matter of less than two months. That’s the life they’ve been called to. A life with six kids who all bring blessings of their own, but also have brought burdens that honestly don’t seem all that fair for them to have to bear. That's the life they've been called to, not one they wanted... not one they expected... but one they can, by the grace of God get through and make much of as a result.
Kevin and I were driving to El Paso from Phoenix last month to visit my family as Jack was in the hospital. It was an all night drive that landed us at our destination at 6am. As we were driving Kevin started telling me about how he enjoys driving through the night because your perspective is a little hindered. You can’t see the hundreds of desert miles ahead of you, and you can’t see all the mountain ranges you still have to drive through. All you can see is the road right in front of you. Just one little yellow road line after another. You can’t get discouraged when you look up because when you look up you can’t really tell how much further you have to go. You know your destination is out there, but you don’t worry so much about what’s at the end of your six hour drive when all you see is what's 350 feet ahead of you.
It reminded me about life, and the life each of us have been called to. I told my mom on that trip, as she was discouraged and didn't know how they were going to get through this season and new life adjustment, that life is like that conversation I had with Kevin. Callings and trials are like that conversation. It's hard to have the strength to get through it all when you look to the destination and see hundreds and hundreds of miles and hard work, and late nights without without sleep, not to mention all the emotional burdens that come along with it. But I told her, it's like that drive, you have to keep your eyes on what's right in front of you. You take it all one step at a time and don't get overwhelmed by everything else. You take time to breathe and know you'll get to your destination eventually, but for now you just have to focus on the road in font of you.
Maybe your calling isn’t one where you’ve been handed a terrible diagnosis, maybe it isn’t one where the life you once thought was tough and burdensome has only proven to become even more exhausting and waring. Maybe the calling ahead of you is one of taking a step of faith to move somewhere or follow a dream. Maybe it’s a calling to say goodbye to something you’ve held on to for years, maybe a habit, maybe an unhealthy relationship, maybe a job. Or maybe your calling is to start new habits, to seek to restore broken relationships, or maybe your calling is to do the same thing you have been doing. It could be to live the life you have been but this time with a deeper perspective of your impact in it. It could be to believe that there is still further and deeper in for you to go.
Sometimes I get a glimpse of what I’ve been called to… and it’s exciting! But sometimes the things I’ve been called to terrify me. Responsibility scares me. The unknown scares me. Potential scares me. Expectation terrifies me. I see what’s ahead of me and I think, “I can’t do that! I mean… I can do a lot of things… but that… I can’t do that.” And that’s when I do it anyway… because that’s just what you do when you’ve been called to do something. You trust your God and you walk in faithfulness.
The measure is within you. Whatever you’ve been called to, the measure is within you. Those words again, “That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
The amazing thing about our lives is that whatever we’ve been called to we’ve been equipped for. Whatever we’ve been asked of, we’ve been prepared for. Whatever comes our way will never be too much for us to handle. But the key is to understand you weren’t met to shoulder the weight of it all.
Im a pretty capable person. In my own effort I can accomplish a good amount of things. I understand I have talents and I know what I’m good at, and even more, I know what I need to do to get better at them, but I cannot make those things matter in the long run on my own. I can’t give those gifts any value other than the superficial in my own efforts. And more than those things, I cannot maintain the issues of my heart. I can’t manage a healthy spirit. I can’t sustain a holy perspective or attitude toward my circumstances. I can’t nurture a healthy self image or assume positive intent of others without help. So, yeah. I can do some stuff… but there’s a lot of stuff I can’t do… and what’s more, with the stuff I can do, imagine how much more I could do with God backing me on it. And that’s the way it was meant to be. Even though I cannot will myself to do some things… the measure is within me… That I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Not a little bit of the fullness of God. Not some of the fullness of God. Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I know this- in whatever we are called to, God has equipped us for that role. When it comes to being kind or loving to people, I know the measure is within us because I have seen us be kind and loving people. When we have been called to holiness, I know the measure is within us because I believe the Holy Spirit works in us, both to will and to do for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). I believe that when we are called to do things we don’t have the strength for He is in us, renewing our strength as we call upon him, causing us to soar on wings like eagles, run without growing weary, and enabling us to walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). I believe that because the Spirit is in us and He is able to do more than we could ask or imagine, because of His power at work within us (Ephesians 3:20). So that’s why I say the measure is within you. With a continual seeking of the Lord, and renewing of His Spirit, and pursuit of Him in every aspect of life the measure is within you to accomplish anything and everything you’ve been called to.
But remember this: Sometimes wins are masked as losses. And sometimes steps backwards are the graces of getting second chances or even opportunities to move in a different direction. In the case of my brother, perhaps his sickness has opened the door for him to start his life over again, not that his life before wasn’t a good one... because it was; he was successful and driven and accomplished, but maybe this is a second chance to know the Lord in a new way, maybe this is an opportunity for him to become someone he never would have become before.
And in all of these things, be like my brother Kevin and I in the car. Move forward, head on toward the destination you’ve been called to. Don’t be overwhelmed by how far out you have left to go. Don’t be enveloped by fear when you consider all the things that could happen on the way. Don’t be weighed down by looking at how much easier things may have been in the past, or how much easier they would be if you didn’t pursue hard after your calling. Rather focus on the progress you are making in the now. After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a race is only finished by taking one step at a time. Go and act on what you've been called to. The measure is within you. And for the moments when you don’t know what to do, let your eyes always be on Him.
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
-2 Timothy 1:7