God says GO!
Uh, who me?
By Sue Washburn
A few years ago I was getting ready to preach a real, live sermon. I was about halfway through my seminary internship at a church and the pastor told me I’d be preaching the Sunday after Christmas. Me! Preaching! I started researching right away. It was early November and the momentous event was just around the corner. I had to get started.
By the beginning of December I had enough research for a 40-page dissertation. I talked to everyone I could about what I might say. I suspect most people didn’t want to hear my latest round of ideas since they kept changing. As the preaching time drew near, I realized at some point I’d just have to go and do it. I’d have to step into the pulpit, ready or not. I had to trust that God had my back. Even if I got something wrong the Holy Spirit would still be at work. So I did it. I preached my first sermon titled, God says GO!
God’s people are always on the go. Abraham left his country, his home and his family to go where God called him. Jesus walked around the countryside with his disciples and after Pentecost the Apostles dispersed to share the Gospel.
Even in disobedience God’s people are on the move. Adam and Eve were put in and then forced out of Eden. The Israelites who wanted to stay safely and confidently gathered at the tower of Babel were dispersed. Moses and the Israelites who refused to enter the land that God had given them had to wander the desert for forty years.
Jesus himself is a big fan of the word, Go. He says:
Today, I can sense God’s providence (or humor?) as GO! seems to be the theme of my call to ministry. I am what part of what many call the “gig” economy. As a part-time pastor and part-time writer and editor, I go wherever the work takes me. Or put another way, wherever God seems to be calling me. Sometimes I’m surprised at where I end up. Sometimes I’m as nervous as I was as a first-time preacher. I wonder, Me? Really? Are you sure?
And God says, Go.
I’m comforted by the fact that wherever I go, God is already there preparing the way and calling me forward into a new and different future. I trust that even thought I don’t always feel qualified, God will find a way to use my gifts. I pray for direction and correction along the way.
As we train and equip new leaders in our churches, I hope that we can reflect on the ways that God calls us to go. In small churches like the one I serve we often worry that we are not big enough or rich enough to be part of God’s change in the world.
Going with God’s plan requires huge amounts of faith. It requires us to know the stories of how God called the small and unqualified people in the Bible. It means trusting in God’s creativity and abundance rather than our own. Fundamentally, it means believing that we are not going it alone.
As you begin a new year where is God calling you to go as a church? As a disciple? I’d love to know! Comment on the Facebook feed or on Twitter with the hashtag #godsaysgo.
Sue Washburn is bi-vocational, working as the interim editor of Presbyterians Today and pastor of Reunion Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.