July 25, Listening to Your Life Finding God in Unexpected Places: Your Heart’s Calling with Rev. Dr. Steven Koski
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Rev. Dr. Steven Koski
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Listening to Your Life Finding God in Unexpected Places: Your Heart’s Calling.
This is the labyrinth, the labyrinth of our church just sits below our building, you know, the labyrinth is an invitation to prayer. It’s a wonderful way to actually listen for God’s voice in the depths of our hearts as we make our way to the center of the labyrinth invites us to kind of let go discard set aside all of those other voices that that clamor for our attention, that distract us. That in the center, we might listen for God’s voice.
Listen for the beating of of God’s heart within our hearts. So that so that as we return. We might carry God’s heart to the world. Because we’re all called. We’re all called to a life of purpose. Actually, Pablo Picasso said the purpose of life is a life of purpose, scripture says something very similar in First Corinthians 12 seven, the spirit of God is uniquely manifest in each person. Waiting to be set free. To be used for the common good.
You know, there’s a study out of the University of Wisconsin that asked a thousand people over the age of 90. What would you do if you could live your life over again? What a great, great question. How would you answer that question? You know, the third most popular response was, I take more risks. I would live my life less, less cautiously, less, less ruled by fear. The second most popular response was I would focus more on my relationships.
Making sure I I love well, so often we discover that truth a little too late and the most popular response in the survey, if I had by chance had a chance to do it all over again, the most popular response was. I’d give more of myself. To building a better world for my grandchildren and for their children. In other words. I would live my life in service. Two others. Could guy you could guy is a Japanese word, a Japanese word, roughly translated as the reason you wake up in the morning.
Everyone needs a guy a reason. A purpose, you know, greater than ourselves. To wake up in the morning, you know, it’s built into our spiritual DNA to be of service to something larger than ourselves, to use our unique gifts, our passions, our skills to make a difference in the world. You know, if we were able to quiet all of those all of those other voices in our lives that that shout and scream and demand our attention.
And we were actually able to listen, listen for God’s voice. Speaking deep within our hearts. You know, I believe we just might find ourselves called to a life bigger. Than the life we are living. I’m often asked to describe what does it mean to be a Presbyterian? There’s a lot of answers to that question. But I usually say there are two main things. Grace. The love of God revealed to us in and through Jesus is unconditional.
That’s one thing. And the second. Each and every one of us is called by God to be a unique expression of that love in the world, you know, the Bible’s full of stories of God calling people to be who to be who God created them to be and to use their gifts, their skills, their passions in a particular way on a particular path of service. One of my favorite stories is from First Samuel. Samuel was just a boy working and living with Eli, a high priest.
And here’s what it says in Chapter three, verses one in 10. God called Samuel. Samuel answered. Here I am, and he ran to Eli and said, Here I am, you called me. But Eli said, I didn’t call, go back and lie down. So Samuel went and he lay down again. God called Samuel. Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, Well, here I am. You called me my son.
Eli said, I did not call. Go back and lie down. Now, Samuel did not yet know the Lord, the word of God had not yet been revealed to him a third time God called Samuel and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, Here I am. You called me. Then Eli realized. It was God who was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, go and lie down, and if God calls, you say.
Say, speak. Speak, Lord. For your servant. Is listening. So Samuel win and lay down in his place and God came and stood there, calling is at the other time, Samuel, Samuel, Samuel. And Samuel said, speak. For your servant. Is listening now, we might be quick to dismiss such a. Such a mystical experience, because the chances are we probably haven’t haven’t encountered or or heard from God so directly, chances are we’re not hearing this Charlton Heston like voice coming from heaven, calling our name.
I probably just dated myself with the Charlton Heston reference, but let’s say a loud, booming voice, you know, but but at the very heart of our faith. At the very heart of our faith is the belief. That God speaks to us. God calls us, it’s not just folks like me, pastors who who have a calling. God chooses and calls each. Each and every one of us as coworkers to bring about God’s realm on Earth, we all share one universal call, which is which is for our unique lives to be used in service to bring about the dream of God for the world.
Now, how God asks us to do that, you know, varies from one person to the next, it says in First Peter for ten as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Serve one another. With what ever unique gifts you have. Have we learned? Have we learned how to listen? For God’s call in our lives. Did you notice in the story Samuel didn’t recognize that it was God’s voice he was hearing at first? He thought it was Eli.
There are so, so many voices in this world that scream at us, that shout at us, distract us, that demand our demand, our attention, there’s so much noise. How do we listen? And how do we know which is the voice of God? Speaking. Deep within our hearts, how do we how do we listen and pay attention to what is stirring in our hearts? Because when your heart speaks, trust me. Take good notes.
You know, God, God is calling each of us and waiting for us like Samuel to say, here I am your servant. Listening. So how do we listen and discern God’s call this morning, I just want to offer I want to offer a few clues. That might help us to pay attention again, I believe that God is calling each and every one of us. I believe that God is speaking to you right now. The issue is, do we know how to listen, we’ll hear a few clues, Frederick Buechner wrote the place.
The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness. And the world’s deep hunger meat. A sense of call, it is, is reflected in your deep gladness, a call is good news, not bad news. It actually reflects a yearning in which you have energy and excitement. A call is not an art or should or a duty. But it’s actually a gift. To be received. And even though chances are it’ll be a challenge, difficult, very hard to do.
A call is something you want to do because when you’re living from a sense of call. Something within you. Comes alive. Another clue. Now, a call is about your heart’s deep gladness. But it’s also about the world’s. Deep hunger. A key to discerning call is. It’s getting in touch with your pain. What breaks your heart? The chances are that what breaks your heart breaks God’s heart. Where you feel pain for the world reveals where you carry special concern and hope, a key question to ask.
What is the place of suffering or need in the world for which I most grieve, what deep hunger in the world causes me the most pain? That may be God’s way of calling you. Calling you to offer your life in service for the healing of that pain. You know, in our prayers, we often say. God in your mercy, I believe that as we lift up to God, that which breaks our heart. God’s spirit is stirring in our hearts, calling us in some way to be the very presence of mercy.
That we are praying for. As Frederic Brickner wrote. Go where your best prayers take you. Here are a few more clues, a few more clues to discern God’s call. A call comes from a sense of mystery. And are. Not from your ego. Call probably feels like it’s coming from from beyond yourself. It doesn’t feel like it’s your idea. It’s God who’s at work in you. It’s not your ego seeking status or attention or trying to prove your worth, a call is love, love, seeking to give itself away through your life.
Another clue, a call is part of who you are meant to be. Your calling will not violate who you are, but will express your truest self. It’s not about being someone else, it’s not about being what others expect you to be. It’s about letting God speak through your unique and precious life. This is an ancient tale about Rabbi Zsuzsa when he was an old man and he said in the coming world they will not ask me why were you not Moses?
They will ask me. Why were you not Suza? Why did you not let God speak through your unique life, Saint Catherine of Siena said, be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. Another. A call is persistent. It won’t leave you alone even when you try to push it away. You know, it’s this inner tug that won’t let you go. So what’s tugging at your heart? What is that burning Bush that doesn’t consume itself, that just keeps burning?
Another clue, a call, a hate this always feels. Impossible. Often our first response to God’s call is, is what? I’m sorry, me, I don’t think so that’s that’s beyond me. You know, most characters in the Bible reacted this way when they heard God’s call. Abraham and Sarah said they were too old. Jeremiah Pruno protested that he was too young. Moses resisted because. Because he stuttered. Others felt that what God was asking was beyond their strength and capabilities.
And that’s true. God doesn’t call us to do something we can do on our own. But with God. All things are possible. Another clue. A sense of call. Is risky. Do you remember that study out of the University of Wisconsin where they said that it could live their lives over again? They take more risks. They be less fear driven. You know, part of the risk is we make bail. But we are not called to be successful, we are called to be faithful and maybe the greatest risk.
Is to actually not risk anything at all. Another clue. A call from God. Is countercultural, God doesn’t call us to protect the status quo. Jesus challenged the social, political, religious and economic realities of his day. Many believe that what got Jesus killed. Is that he challenged? He challenged the religious cultural show, social and cultural norms of of who is welcome to eat at his table. He welcomed those society and religious leaders excluded. We are all called to live with that same that same kind of radical and revolutionary love.
That kind of love that will disturb the comfortable. And comfort the disturbed, you know, every week we pray, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven. Your call isn’t about how we might get to heaven. But how we in our unique lives can bring heaven here on earth, especially for the suffering and most vulnerable. And finally, it’s never, never too late to discern God’s call. That divine voice that that speaks in the depths of our hearts isn’t a recording from yesterday.
It’s a persistent, hopeful voice speaking in the depths of our hearts today, calling us to a life of purpose. I was speaking to a woman recently who is in her 80s. She’s she’s a retired teacher and she’s always felt felt called to nurture the hearts of young people, helping them discover, discover their worth and live to their potential. Due to failing health. She’s now bedridden, she can’t she can’t do any longer the things that she used to do that she used to love to do.
But God continues to speak, God continues to call to the depths of her heart. And she continues to listen. Her sense of call right now is to send at least 10 postcards a day to young people, just letting them know that their lives matter, that their love, that somebody is thinking of them, someone’s praying for them, someone believes in them. And her sense of call is so strong and persistent. That even when she tires from writing these these postcards, she dictates to her friends and family and asks them to write for her, for her.
You know, there’s nothing that will stop that that love and that sense of call from being from being lived out. So these are all clues. To discern God’s call. To listen, hear God’s voice. Calling you. I encourage you this week to spend some time. Listening to The Voice. Speaking. In the depths of your heart, without a doubt, without a doubt. God is calling each of us. God is calling each of us to play the play a vital part in healing.
And restoring this broken world of ours. You know, as we emerge from the trauma of these last 18 months. I believe that God has a role for each one of us to play and rising from the ashes to new life. God has need of you. Let me say that again, God. God has need. Of you, the world has need of you. God called out Samuel. God knows our names. And it’s calling out to our unique, unique and precious lives.
Are we listening? Well, we say here I am, Lord. I will go, Lord, wherever you need me. I will hold your people in my heart.