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Answer the Highest Calling of Your Heart

By Tracy Jessup

Gardner WebbDr. Tracy Jessup


“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.” — Psalm 85:8-11 

Civil rights leader John Lewis passed away on July 17, 2020.  Shortly before his death, he wrote an essay to be published upon the day of his funeral.  In the essay, entitled “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation,” Mr. Lewis urged his fellow Americans “to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.”

Borrowing from the words of the Apostle Paul, Mr. Lewis did not lose heart.  Even though his outer nature was wasting away, his inner nature was being renewed day by day (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16).  He expressed hope in what he viewed as a transformation that seemed to be taking place in our land.  “While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world, you set aside race, class, age, language, and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.”

The image in today’s scripture is of a world transformed by God’s salvation.  Specifically, four aspects of salvation are mentioned – steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace.  God’s steadfast love amid hardship, uncertainty, and even our rebellion against God is proof that God is true to the covenant He has made with His people.  Steadfast love is met with God’s faithfulness.  The love we know in a relationship with God is a love on which we can rely.  Righteousness – knowing and doing what is right – is integral to the nature of God’s salvation. This righteousness embraces peace, reminding us that salvation ultimately results in wholeness and completion for those who follow God.

These aspects of salvation work together, bringing us into a right relationship with God and one another.  Even creation will display God’s salvation as “faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky” (Psalm 85:11).  But the most beautiful expression of God’s salvation was manifested in the person of Jesus Christ.  Grace and truth came through him (John 1:17), and in his gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed (Romans 1:17).

Those who are longing to see the power of God’s salvation and forgiveness should be able to witness it on display in the lives of those who have experienced it.  “From childhood, when Lewis preached to chickens on his family farm, to his twilight years, when he urged National Prayer Breakfast attendees to ‘be a blessing to our fellow human beings,’ faith was the fuel of Lewis’s life” (Adelle Banks, Religion News Service, July 18, 2020).  It is my prayer that everyone who professes to follow Christ will embrace God’s steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace so that all people may see the salvation of our God.

Prayer: Lord, we turn to you in our hearts so your glory may dwell in our land.


Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.

Read more Good News from Dr. Jessup HERE.