How often do any of us do something immediately?
In my life and likely in yours, that doesn’t happen with any regularity. We may try to do something “right away” or “quickly,” but the word immediately connotes an urgency of response.
The dictionary gives these definitions:
- At once; instantly
- Without any intervening time or space
I have been reading the Gospel of Mark again and noted this week how frequently the word immediately is used (in the ESV translation). In the first chapter of Mark alone the word appears six times and in the form “at once” brings the total to seven. But Mark continues to love that word or the one that is translated as such from its original text.
Much of the time the word is used to describe the actions of Jesus such as when He calls James and John to be his disciples. It is also used to demonstrate the time in which someone is healed after Jesus has pronounced healing on whatever condition or illness plagued a person. You’ll see these examples used in various contexts and find a few others as well.
The word struck me not only because of how often it was used, but because it implies a bold decisive decision, no wavering or uncertainty. If that implication has merit, does it also point to why we might do fewer things immediately?
One segment of the culture that seems to embody immediacy is that of those men and women who serve in the military services when they are on active duty. No matter what his or her rank, someone else is “over” him or her and has the greater authority to give the command for whatever action is required or desired. These men and women are taught to respond and act without a lot of questioning and certainly without questioning whether they actually want to do what has been ordered.
Perhaps beyond the training they receive, this is a characteristic because each of them is clear about their calling and duty. They also understand and respect authority and know what it means to work and serve as a team. The mission gets accomplished only when everyone works together as a team toward the objective or goal.
Jesus was clear on his calling and purpose from ages past to his arrival on earth and then to his ascension back to heaven. That clarity brought about a clear and decisive response. He also knew and respected the authority of the One (Father God) who had called Him and given Him the assignments He had signed on to do. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane with the cross hours away when Jesus sought God to see if there was any other option, it was never about Him refusing to respond immediately when the time came.
The question I ask myself and share with you is, “Am I really clear on the call I believe the Lord has placed on my life?”
Some of you might not even think that He has a call on your life, but I would submit to you that if He chose you and you accepted Him then He has a purpose and a plan, a call, on your life designed just for you.
Have we asked Him and looked at how He has moved in our lives over time to point to that call?
It isn’t only pastors, missionaries, and worship leaders that receive a call from the Lord. Each and every one of us has a role to play both now on earth and in his Kingdom in heaven.
If we were clear on that, how would that change our sense over the authority given to the responsibility for us to carry out the objective, the goal, the plan?
Some calls apply to us all:
- Be light
- Be salt
- Love others as yourself
- Love God
But how and where we do that, what ways it is demonstrated in and through us will be fleshed out differently in different contexts. Sometimes we may know as a child; but for a great many of us, it will be a series of open and closed doors related to our gifts and skills, our personality and passion that guides us to a clearer awareness.
In my own life there are themes, passions, desires, etc. that run throughout my lifetime, but in me He patiently built one thing upon another to lead me. That was a perfect plan for me since I could never have believed or accepted all the ways He designed my path to take. The best part now is that I look forward with anticipation for what comes next.
As I watch our adult grandchildren beginning to launch out as a nurse, to medical school, several to college, and several more moving through high school, I am standing on tiptoes to see what God does and how He leads with what each of them senses right now and more so about where He takes them next.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3: 5-6 (NIV)