Day 9: The Call



There have only been a few times in my life were I have felt God’s call - directly and clearly.  The first time was when I accepted Christ as my savior at 12 years old.

The second time was in December of 1998, God called me to Citychurch.

In previous posts, I’ve shared some of the story of how the ministry of Citychurch started in downtown Amarillo in 1996.  I was there for all those beginning moments: first service, first outreach to kids, the first summer of outreaches in parks, first children’s camp, first load of food donated, first baptisms, expanding the building, and first van donated.

I had been witnessing God sending growth and blessings to Citychurch’s ministry, and I had threw in a helping hand every chance I could.  I pushed brooms, canvased neighborhoods, handed out groceries, made crafts with kids, and anything else I could do to help.

One Sunday morning, two years after beginning Citychurch, as my father-in-law Don Lane was preaching, my heart was stirred.  During that sermon, the Holy Spirit spoke to me.  I felt in my heart that He was saying to me, “You’ve been here, but you haven’t been here.”  I knew God was calling me to Citychurch.

During the invitation I went forward and shared my calling with the church.

From that point forward, I looked at the ministry at Citychurch differently.

It was no longer a job my husband had or just a church I attended; it was now my mission field.

     An early picture of the adjacent building that was added to our first Citychurch building.

     An early picture of the adjacent building that was added to our first Citychurch building.

     James, Lucy, and I with James's parent's Don and Diana Lane and my parents Hollis and Carol Upchurch.

     James, Lucy, and I with James's parent's Don and Diana Lane and my parents Hollis and Carol Upchurch.

Missional minded living is quite a catch phrase these days, but my father-in-law Don was the first person I ever heard apply the idea of looking at your own city as a missionary.

We didn’t want to let unfamiliarity with urban culture keep us from telling children about Jesus.

If you were going on a mission trip to China, wouldn’t you learn about Chinese culture, clothing, food, music, language, and worldview?  It would be silly not to.  You wouldn’t finally crack open a tourist book on the plane on your way there.  You would be listening, reading, watching everything you could get your hands on trying to figure out how to relate the love and truth of Jesus to a Chinese person.

Don took that same idea and applied it to our situation in the inner-city of Amarillo.

He came up with the slogan “live the mission” to recruit volunteers.  He would tell people, “You can be a missionary in your own city and sleep in your own bed at night.”

God had called me to Citychurch in the same quick way he had called me to be a disciple.

Jesus called His disciples in a quick and simple way.

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
— Matthew 4: 18-22 ESV

I had a choice, I could immediately follow or not.

I was already living in my mission field.  I was at Citychurch, but the way God wanted me to follow him was a heart issue.

I could see the mission of reaching inner-city children in Amarillo as a hobby, a paycheck, a cute antidote, or just something my family does.

But God wanted more.  God wanted my heart.

Jesus had called his disciples, and He had also called others into the work He was doing.  They had the privilege of actually following Jesus around and watching Him work.

There is a story in Luke that recounts a time of great rejoicing by Jesus.  Seventy-two of his followers had returned from a mission.

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
— Luke 10:17-20 ESV

I love how that last sentence of Luke 10:20 is translated in The Message, “Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

God had called me to His work at Citychurch, and the blessing of that calling was what God would do for me.  That idea is humbling and exciting.

When He called me to His work, He allowed me to see my city with the lenses of faith.  I was going to serve my city in Jesus name.

The story in Luke goes on to tell about how Jesus rejoices in the Father’s will.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.’
— Luke 10: 21-22 ESV

Then Jesus turns to his disciples, and shares the blessing of this event with them.

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’
— Luke 10:23-24 ESV

God wants you to go in His name.  That is the command of the Great Commission.

Look at your city with the mind of a missionary, and go.

As you go and work in Jesus name, we know from this story in Luke that Jesus will rejoice in you joining Him to carry out the Father’s will.  And take heart knowing that the rejoicing will be amplified as God works in your own heart.



I'm a music lover.  I like using a song for each blog post.  Here's a song about finding your calling by Welcome Wagon.