Banks Community United Methodist Church
  December 28, 2008

Anna Shimer

"Transformation and Calling"

Romans 12:1-2

    I was only five years old when my dad first remembers that I announced that I wanted to be a missionary when I grew up. That desire ebbed and flowed as years passed, but never quite faded, even as I went to school and explored many other options for future employment. I assumed that I would finish high school and college, and then apply what I'd learned in some kind of job with a salary. Going to Peru this fall had a little to do with that glimmer of calling I'd felt as a little girl: I thought I'd go work as a missionary for 4 months with pastors who had invited me to work with them many times, then I'd come back and settle down into a real job like a real adult. Going to Peru was just a bit of an adventure. God, however, had something very different in mind.

    The pastors I worked with in Lima, Peru invited me in mid-September to pray and decide whether I would be coming back to work with them again in 2009. For me, the process of discerning God's will was shaky and riddled with uncertainties. I was unsure for many weeks of how God was directing me. But God used this season in Peru to awaken me to His call on my life into full-time ministry...and His call to return to Peru this coming year and continue working with the church in Lima for a while longer

    These two verses in Romans 12 (vv. 1-2) stand out to me in a couple ways as I reflect on God's call in my life and my journey in discerning His will. Paul urges us in verse one to offer our bodies to God in worship, as "living sacrifices." He says this is our "spiritual" act of worship, but the word translated as "spiritual" can also mean "reasonable." Offering our selves to God is really the only reasonable response to who He is and what He does! It reminds me of a familiar verse that God used to nudge me (or more like thrust me) toward embracing His calling in Matthew 16:24-25. The idea of carrying one's cross is not very appealing, but for me it fits with Paul's statement in Romans: it's really the only reasonable response to God's call in our lives.

    I'm also struck by the connection between having a transformed mind and discerning God's will. I struggled to discern God's direction this fall. And then when I thought I'd heard His voice, I doubted that I'd heard correctly and struggled more to hear again and confirm what I'd heard. Right now, I'm in a peaceful place, confident that I'm walking in God's will. Now I can't say that I've learned a fool-proof method for discerning God's will (if there is one!), but I have learned that the way I go about discerning God's will and even what I eventually perceive to be His will is deeply shaped by my understanding of God - His Word, His relationship with us, His character...and that understanding comes from my mind! So it gives me hope that as my mind is transformed, including my understanding of God, my ability to discern God's will in my life will also improve.

    So. Transformation. This year, like any other year, has involved change, something I'm not particularly fond of. Most reasonable adult-type people will tell you (as they've told me many times) that change can be a very good thing, and I would agree. I'm thankful for God's transforming that has changed my life's direction through His clear calling into full-time ministry. I'm thankful for the beginnings of a transformed mind that will enable me to discern His direction more quickly and more clearly in the future. And my experience of transformation in this past year is my challenge for this next year - maybe a type of New Year's Resolution? - that I would continue to take up my cross and follow Jesus, or in Paul's words, present my body to God in worship as a living sacrifice, since that is really the only reasonable thing I can offer to Him.

    1) Living sacrifices
    2) Transformed to discern will of God
        Not just called to full-time ministry,
        but called to be set apart for God in service to His people. (Dad's thought)
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Banks Community UMC 151 Depot Street
Banks, Oregon 97106