The Challenge of the Call

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. – Matthew 4:18-20 NKJV.  

Hu Huiyuan is a 21-year-old woman who lives in the Anhui Province in China. Hu is writing a novel, and has written six chapters of it, approximately 60,000 words. Many people, perhaps millions, write novels. However, how many of them write their novels by typing with a toe on their left foot? She has cerebral palsy; the only parts of her body not paralyzed are her head and left foot. Hu’s mother has been a dedicated teacher providing her with an education; in addition to helping her learn how to perform physical tasks most of us take for granted. Hu’s mother says, “When I was teaching her how to speak, I had to be very patient as every single word might take a thousand times of repeating.” Hu says about her education, “I’m not a genius, but I’m very focused. When I watched TV in my childhood, I often learned words with subtitles.” It is surprising that Hu is now able to type on her keyboard, while strapped in a wheelchair, 20 to 30 words a minute! (Shanghaiist 01.26.15)  

Life will always provide us with challenges, we may not have to try to write a book typing with our toe, but it may seem like it at times. Every person who comes to know Jesus as their personal Savior is called to a challenging life of service. We are told this in Luke 9:23, “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’” The indication here from Luke 9:23, is that the call is not a call to a life of ease, but to a life of sacrifice. The phrase “take up his cross daily” makes this clear, because we know what a cross meant in the first century. The cross in the first century was a horrific instrument of execution, which the condemned would often be required to carry on their backs to the place of their death. The amazing thing to consider is why would anyone follow Jesus, especially in the first century, when He was calling them to a life of cross carrying?  

Even the apostle Paul faced great challenges as he lived out the call God had placed upon his life. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:5, “…when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears.” But Paul also says, “I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation (2 Corinthians 7:4).” Then Paul says, “Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming, but also by the consolation with which he was comforted in you, when he told us of your earnest desire, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more (2 Corinthians 6:5-7).” 

Whatever challenges you face in life, whatever God has called you to do, the God “who comforts the downcast” has what you need. You may think you simply cannot take another step physically or mentally, but then God makes His presence known. It may be that God shows up through the words of a book, a devotional, or as the apostle Paul experienced through the coming of a trusted friend who encourages you. Cross carrying has never been easy, but it has always been possible as we look to the One who called us to help us take one more step, or even to type one more letter. May God show up in some way today in your life to encourage, to strengthen, to empower, and to comfort you.

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