An Upward Calling
By Jordan Rowley
“… I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me… reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:12-14
“Pressing on” is not always easy. In fact, this phrase used here in Philippians implies a push, thrust, or drive – all of which require intentionality, energy and action. In it’s original Greek, the phrase means to “earnestly endeavor to acquire.” I like that. It serves as a good reminder to us all. As we walk out our faith, in what areas might we have settled into comfort or routine? And in what areas are we “earnestly endeavoring to acquire?” Notice, this does not mean simply earnestly longing or earnestly desiring, but earnestly endeavoring (trying, attempting, laboring) to acquire!
Personally, I’m endeavoring to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” But what has Jesus “laid hold of me” for? I think in general terms, that means my sanctification, but more specifically, it’s my calling and the work God has ordained for me from before I existed. (See Psalm 139:16, Ephesians 2:10.) Speaking of calling, last month I shared in an announcement that I believe God is calling me back to the mission field. Before coming on staff part-time at Koinonia as the Worship Director, I spent nearly 5 years serving as a missionary with a locally based organization called Climbing For Christ. Climbing For Christ (C4C), is a ministry blessed by God to reach out to remote and hard-to-reach mountainous places of the world and deliver the Good News of Jesus Christ where others cannot or will not. In the past my work with C4C has taken me numerous times to mountain villages in Haiti, Nepal, Peru, and even to the foot of Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Looking ahead I plan on traveling more to these places and others – including expeditions this year to Indonesia, Nigeria, and beyond. The work God calls us to in each of these places varies depending on the needs and the doors He allows to open before us. Here are a few examples. We’ve been blessed to provide food and clean water for emergency droughts, famines or disasters; to construct housing for widows; care for orphans; build churches; support schools; free brick-kiln factory slaves; and, of course, share the glorious Gospel all along the way – by God’s great grace.
This is quite literally, an “upward” call of God. Climbing for hours and hours to reach the next village is not always the easiest thing, but I press on, endeavoring to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Now, you and I each have our own “upward call.” God is calling us deeper and further and higher. I just love how our walks with Jesus can compare to climbing. We must keep our eyes simultaneously on the summit and our next step. Our very next step is that “reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” It’s the press, the push, the thrust, the drive; requiring intentionality, energy and action. It’s a moment by moment decision to stretch forward. Similarly, the summit is the end goal; it’s that “prize of the upward call.” It’s the reward. It’s the “Well done, good and faithful servant; … Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23) So, brothers and sisters, may we all join in on this climb! Wherever you find yourself on your own mountain, look to both your next step and to the summit – as you press on to your upward call!