You know the script. God approaches an unlikely candidate with an audacious offer. God will bless the unlikely candidate and through that person bless many, many more. This is contingent on the unlikely candidate saying yes to the offer.
I was reminded of this divine craziness after hearing a sermon on Abraham recently. (Rev Daniel Wee, SJSM Saturday Evening Service.) I thought about this crazy way of doing things last Christmas as I meditated on God's approach to Mary. Here was a young unknown peasant girl who got a divine visitation in the person of the angel Gabriel and was told that she would carry the long-awaited Messiah in her womb — if she agrees. Crazy.
Similarly, there is nothing in Abraham’s back story that qualifies him to be the father of faith. To say yes to God, though, he would have to leave behind security, familiarity, and identity to head out into the unknown. I don’t know about you, but this would scare the heck out of me.
Well, I did struggle when I began to realise that God wanted me to be a Bible teacher, not a dentist. I do believe that God calls different people to different things. Dentistry is a high and holy calling, and I am grateful for the work of friends like Chin Hwee who are called to be dentists. I have been personally blessed by his calling.
But I felt I was an unlikely candidate to be a pastor. Among other things, I loved hard rock music, e.g., Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, etc. Surely pastoral candidates should love classical music. And play the piano. For many reasons I felt I was an unlikely candidate to be a pastor.
But the conviction grew and was confirmed by many. So, in the end I said yes.
Alone, in the dark, I knelt before my bed. I remember that the only light was the streetlight streaming in through the window. My heart was heavy. I was troubled. I asked the Lord again if He had gotten the right man. It’s me Lord, the guy who thinks “Machine Gun” in Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsies is the most poignant lament he knows. Who, me? Pastor?
As I knelt before my bed, reluctantly, weighed down with doubt, I said yes. Almost immediately I felt my heaviness lift, replaced by a palpable blessing of peace.
That was more than four decades ago. Life has not been easy. Life this side of heaven never is. But I am grateful that I have said yes to God’s invitation to step out on this adventure. I trust that people have been blessed. I know I have.
So, to all my fellow unlikely candidates out there — what adventure is God inviting you to this year? What say you?