How is this for transparency? As I write this, we are awaiting news from our parent organization regarding our professional fate. Our books, magazines, and material aids for those seeking spiritual truth are moving upstream, swimming for dear life in the digital universe.
Like many of our readers—even you perhaps—we have had to reconcile purpose with profits. We may see our role—the prophetic voice of change, if you will—but we, alas, also see the ebbing support for the Word of God and the resulting ebb in our bottom line.
I share this to make two points, two object lessons I’m garnering from the whole pleasant experience.
In our conundrum lays a recognizable dilemma, but one ￼that does not receive adequate attention or preparation. ￼ Your purpose and calling may not be what you think it is, or your purpose and calling may not be embraced by those around you. Your purpose and calling may fly directly in the face of the interests and objectives of those around you, hence the need to remove you from the arena.
You see, while you can read about 40 days to discover your purpose, it could take a lifetime to be OK with the fact that some will reject it and you. Yet people who are out of work, laid off, passed over, or lingering in that frustrating netherworld of mismatched talents and everyday routine know this very well. They, maybe I, will soon wonder, how can this possibly fit into God’s plan for my life? Being overlooked, undervalued, and misjudged?
Long before whistle blowers and whistle blower legislation to protect said people, God’s prophets were snubbed by market forces.
Isaiah, after all, along with the beautiful foretelling of the coming of the Son of God, also had the unwelcome task of calling the king out. his whole life preached a sermon: his name means “Jehovah saves.” he named his children Shear Jashub, meaning “a remnant will be saved; a remnant shall return” and Maher-shalal-hash-baz—“speed the spoil, hasten the prey.” According to the Bible, Mrs. Isaiah “prophesied” as a time marker. She would bear children, and by the time they could say “mama” and “dada,” the current kingdom would be overthrown. From his vision- based vantage point, posted high along the city wall, he could make out the sure advance of the stealthy conquering soldiers of Persia. “Babylon is fallen! is fallen,” he cried out (emphasis supplied), Isaiah 21. Yeah, nobody wants to be that guy. That’s an unpopular message for some. And Isaiah, as so many of the prophets of old (and those who suffer today), faced the worst because of his calling and purpose. “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Hebrews 11:37).
Strange as it may be, that gives me comfort. Even Isaiah could make out a transcendent and unexplainable peace- giving truth in the midst of his dilemma: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isaiah 43:2).
So, back to the two lessons.
First, don’t fire the prophets in your life. Don’t put away the Word of God that somehow reads your inner motives and challenges you. Pick up the phone when your mother calls you, who mysteriously knows you are not eating right even though you are 40. Take out the ear buds so you don’t drown out the still small voice. Receive the criticism, the feedback and the gentle rebukes.
Second, and hopefully not finally, as the prophetic voices on the wall, we have the honor of sharing God’s hopes and dreams for us. But, we admit that the com- ponents that make up our lives—governments, markets, environs, and relationships—will often fall short of God’s ideal for us. That is a message we are privileged to carry, if even for a short time. It lies in the core of our purpose and calling and extends beyond the here, the now, the brick and the mortar.