When I was growing up, and even now, one of the things I like are Superheroes. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman were characters I loved and admired. Of course, growing up in the church I also had heroes from the Bible: David, Samson, Joshua. When you surround yourself with heroes, you often feel like you yourself might be called to some great thing. Was I to be a scientist? An astronaut? An Olympian? A missionary? What was I being prepared for and called to do?
What I was called to do, how I was called to do it, how well I did it, would change over time, as would my understanding of and relationship with the one who might be calling me. But some sense of being called to something beyond myself has been with me since I was a child and it continues to inspire, critique, and shape me. Sometimes I understand what is happening and at other times I do not.
One of the often-time forgotten heroes of the Bible was the prophet Amos. Before he was called by God, Amos describes himself as a "herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees." We don't know whether Amos saw these tasks as his vocation or whether it was just a job for him. Amos tells us that God called him to prophesy to the people of Israel. And we know that Amos said "yes" and then did exactly what God wanted him to do.
God calls each of us to do something; as individuals, as a congregation, as a community. Sometimes it takes a while for us to figure what God is calling us to do. Sometimes it's hard to say "yes" to God's call and even harder for us to actually do it. God called Amos to speak truth to power even when he's warned not to. He risks his life to challenge the authority of the king and the religious structures supporting the king's power.
It can be tough to say "yes" to God's call when that call has a price. But it can be equally costly to ignore God's call; to say "no" or "not yet" or "I'm not ready." To hide in apparent safety among the trees or with the herds, quietly wasting away because we lack the courage and faith to believe that God would equip us to do whatever God calls us to do.
The Bible doesn't tell us if Amos got out of Bethel alive after speaking the word of God. We do know that the king and the sanctuary were destroyed by their enemies within a few years. We honor Amos as a hero for his faithfulness not for his success. God will honor us for our faithfulness if we, too, say "yes" to God's call.
What is God calling you to? What is God calling Zion to?
With the Greatest of Hope!