Much of everyday life feels suspended or interrupted these days with COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Thinking back to the earliest days of the pandemic, I recall how activities like church services relied heavily on streaming technology to reach out. To be honest, some still do. Technology glitches prevented a successful streaming experience with my local church on one early occasion, so I decided to stream a different church on that day. I connected with CrossPoint Church in Nashville, TN. I tried there because of previously attending services in person a couple times with my son when visiting him.

I don’t remember the pastor’s name or the exact Sunday this streaming occurred, but I do recall the sermon’s title. It was called “Battles and Blessings” and the message focused on Joshua’s Old Testament story. At some point in the sermon, the pastor shared, “This is the best advice I can give you. In this most uncertain time, if you want to know your calling, the best encouragement I can give you is ‘Draw close to the caller’”.

I gotta tell you, for a guy that coached football for 35 years and literally was an offensive play caller for that whole time, those words struck a chord. I’ve spent more time with QB’s than any other position group during my coaching tenure. From experience I know that when your offense, and particularly your quarterback, is in sync with the plays being called, good things happen on the field. When a quarterback has spent adequate prep time with his coach, when a QB has “drawn close to his play caller”, look out defense! Good things are on the horizon.

“This is the best advice I can give you. In this most uncertain time, if you want to know your calling, the best encouragement I can give you is ‘Draw close to the caller’”.

How are you doing in your spiritually drawing close department these days? Experience in my own spiritual walk reveals inconsistencies for sure. There are times when God feels near and other times when He feels quite distant. How might we get ourselves closer to God? Here’s a thought, stemming from a memory that makes me smile.

I’m leaning on a bookcase in the Jim Hill Middle School library, checking my phone during a short break in a professional development class that I’m participating in a couple of years ago. Minot (ND) public school secondary teachers from across the district are listening to three hours of instruction geared toward increasing student engagement in the classroom. As I glance up from my phone, I see the instructor, a gentleman from California, walking my way. As he gets close, he asks, “Irish?”. I’m a bit taken aback, not sure of his question, so I shoot back the only thing that comes into my head, “No, Norwegian.”

A bit red-faced, we both stood there for a bit, then he pointed at my chest. I glance down to see the interlocking letters N and D on my University of North Dakota polo shirt. When I look up, the gentleman tries again, “Notre Dame?”.

OK. Now I’m on-board. He had mistaken the UND logo for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo. No ethnicity question here. Just a reference to a college mascot in an effort to start a conversation. A bit embarrassed but at least now on the same page, we awkwardly complete our approximately three minute talk, most of which I remember nothing! 🙂

I’m pleased to share, though, that I do remember something I deem worthwhile from his remaining lecture. While talking about how to systematically get kids to use and better understand what he termed “academic language”, the instructor used the word “marinate”.

After hearing words like scaffolding and curriculum and scope and sequence for much of the day, this word jumped out. To be honest, it wasn’t typical academic language! His premise was simple. If you want to get kids to better use and incorporate specific language in their everyday speech, they need lots of reps! Teachers need to collaboratively soak them, marinate them, in this particular language. It meant such language occurs in the social studies classroom and the mathematics classroom and the English classroom, etc. Implementing such a goal school-wide or district-wide would require effort. It would require planning. Planning with intention and method.

So one last time:

“This is the best advice I can give you. In this most uncertain time, if you want to know your calling, the best encouragement I can give you is ‘Draw close to the caller’”.

To simply say I want to draw closer might not be enough. Perhaps as Christians we should consider:

How should we go about the process?
What should we be marinating ourselves in?
Do we have a plan to draw close, one with intention and method?

After an initial week of a 2022 Wednesday Night Bible Study, some at Immanuel Baptist Church in Minot, ND have charted our course. We’ve invested in a Navigator’s resource called the 2:7 Series. Book one is entitled “Growing Strong in God’s Family”. Based on Colossians 2:7, it is a systematic approach to spending personal time with God in the Bible and in prayer.

“Rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”
– Colossians 2:7

We have intention to draw closer to God, personally and collaboratively, employing a method previously used by over 3,000,000 readers. Here’s to drawing close to the caller, and here’s to you finding an intentional method that works for you!

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