The Biblical Doctrine Of Vocational Election
The Biblical Doctrine Of Vocational Election
By Forrest L. Keener
This morning, I am going to bring a message on a subject that you probably, most of you at least, have never heard preached upon. You probably know that this truth exists, and many of you have learned the doctrine in Sunday evening Bible class, but it is a subject that you may never have heard a message on in your life. It is the subject of The Biblical Doctrine Of Vocational Election. Doesn’t that sound like a mouthful? I do not think it will be boring or dry. It ought to be interesting. Turn to the gospel of Mark, chapter 3, and we will begin to read with verse 9 and read down through verse 15.
„And he spake to his disciples, that a small ship should wait on him because of the multitude, lest they should throng him. For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues. And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God. And he straitly charged them that they should not make him known.” (Isn’t that strange, that He forbade these to make Him known?) „And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils:” And then, he goes on in the following verses and tells us the names of those men, which we will not read this morning.
My text out of this passage is Mark 3:13 and 14. „And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” What a wonderful word is election. Sometimes when it finds itself in a context that involves God, the natural man tends to withdraw from it, but if we think of it outside of that, we love the word election. A synonym to election is choose. We choose to do something, or we elect to do something. We like to choose what we eat. I trust that most of you men out there feel that you got to choose your wife. You are glad that one was not just assigned to you by lot. And you ladies are glad that you got to choose your husband. Now, some of you may feel like the one you really wanted got away, but you know the Lord works in those things, and I hope that you feel like you got to choose. We love to choose. Sometimes when natural men think of God choosing, they want to rob Him of that right. But it does not make any difference, we cannot do that, and God does, indeed, choose. We are familiar with the doctrine of soteriological election, that is, God choosing men unto salvation. The Bible very, very clearly, and repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly teaches that. Not all agree on the basis of that choice but if you do not see election in your Bible, you are not reading your Bible. It is just unavoidably there. But there are other kinds of election. For instance, there is national election. The Bible very clearly shows us and teaches us over, and over, that God chose the nation of Israel. There is also Messianic, or Christological election, that means that God, the trinity, chose Jesus Christ to be the Lamb of God, the Messiah. He was chosen for that office. And it is certainly revealed in the Bible that God deliberately chose Him and Him alone for that work. There is angelic election. The Bible speaks of the elect angels. I do not have time today to enlarge upon any of those subjects, but they are all very clearly set forth in your Bible, and in every one of those places, it is very clearly God who does the choosing, not just the ratifying of someone else’s choice, as some men would like to believe. It is God’s choosing.
Now there is another kind of election that is very important, and that is vocational election. Now you know what a vocation is. That means a job, or an assignment. It means what you do. The Bible teaches us, very clearly, that God has chosen certain men to do certain jobs. They are not all preachers, they are not all pastors. Now, I do not believe that the call to teach a Sunday School class is the same thing as a call to preach. For instance, I believe that God may choose a person, and direct a person to teach a class and later on that direction may be removed. I believe that when God calls a man to preach that does not go away. That is going to stay with him throughout his life, as far as I know. No doubt he may disqualify himself, but that is not a change of divine calling but of qualification. I have never felt any inclination that I had any reason to anticipate ever being released from that call. But it is an important thing that we realize this choice and appointment of God, and that we study to understand it. As we learn that God has an eternal purpose in which He chose a nation called Israel, and in which He chose a people, called them, predestinated them to be conformed to the image of His Son, as Romans chapter 8, verses 29 and 30, and a lot of other passages, very clearly teach, we should also consider this doctrine of vocational election, or of God calling men to do certain jobs. He calls men to preach. He calls men to go to various mission fields. He called men to be apostles. You will remember that He called twelve men for that purpose. We read about that in the foregoing passage. In the Gospel of Luke chapter 10, we find that He chose and called 70 others, and gave them essentially the same charge as He gave the twelve, then He sent them out to preach. From them came Barnabas, who was directly called an apostle in the Bible, also came Stephen, and Philip the evangelist, and Mathias, who later was named as one of the 12 apostles. There are many others that I could name, that obviously, very clearly, unquestionably came out of that 70 in Luke chapter 10. And then, finally, as Paul describes his call as being one out of due season, God called the Apostle Paul. There were 83 men that the Lord Jesus Christ called to do this apostolic work. It was to them that He gave power to raise the dead, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. Now that is not a general gift that God gave to everybody who might volunteer to appropriate it. You will never find in your Bible an account of Timothy, or Titus, or any of those men healing a sick person. They did not have that gift. They did not have that authority. They were not told to do that. A lot of people today are going about trying to do things for God, that God has never told them to do. They have the propensity of Simon the Sorcerer.
VOCATIONAL ELECTION IS SOVEREIGN
As we approach this doctrine, we should see first of all, that vocational election is absolutely sovereign. Notice as we read in the text, verses 13 and 14, the Bible says, He called whom He would. What does that mean? It means He called whom He wanted to call, and they came. And from those whom He chose, for there were more there on the mountain than the twelve, He drew out twelve, and, in effect, He said, this is the assignment that I have for you. And so these men were sovereignly chosen individuals out of sovereignly chosen material. This same pattern is seen in the Old Testament. Notice in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 1 and verse 4. These are short verses, so just look with me, and read down through verse 10: Then” the word of the lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” You see God doesn’t give Jeremiah any credit here for his assignment. God did it. He was not a volunteer. „Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” God did that with Jeremiah. God did that with Isaiah. You can go on through the Bible and consistently find that pattern. You will remember that Amos said, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son. I was just a lowly herdsman. God called me. God drew me out of that. In the book of First Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 25 and following, the Scripture tells us how that God has not chosen many wise, He has not chosen many mighty, He has not chosen many noble, but He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the mighty. Now, I want you to know that there is a sense in which I misused those verses. Because the context of First Corinthians chapter 1 is not talking about vocational election. It is not talking about God calling preachers. It is talking about soteriological election. It is talking about God choosing believers and calling believers. Read the last verses of the chapter, you will clearly see that I am telling you the truth about that, and salvation is clearly what it is talking about. But it, nevertheless, applies to vocational election. As God has not chosen wise, and mighty, and noble in His call to salvation, so He has not chosen wise, and mighty, and noble in His call to the ministry. He called fishermen. He called a publican, Matthew. He called men who were considered to be the off-scouring of the earth. He did this sovereignly. I want to tell you something else. It is not just positive, it is also negative. What do I mean by that? I mean there are no volunteers. You had better not be volunteering for the ministry. Don’t do that! Now, I know when you come, you come willingly. I am not taking away from that, but you had better have a call of God. Bro. Steve showed me a card one time, and it said something about being a missionary recruiter, and I laughed. We do not need missionary recruiters. In fact, if there is anything in the world that we do not need, it is missionary recruiters. We do not need preacher recruiters. God must do that! It is a sovereign call of God. It comes from God! This is so very important. Notice in your Bible, in Acts chapter 8 and verse 18.
There was a man by the name of Simon the Sorcerer. Now, you may wonder if Simon the Sorcerer was saved. And whichever side you take, I can take the other side and probably give you a good argument in the other direction, and probably could win the argument. That would not mean that I was right. Just winning an argument does not mean you are right, you know. Sometimes the person who is the poorest arguer may be right. A good arguer may win because of his skill, that does not mean he is right. The Bible says that Simon the Sorcerer believed, and he continued with Philip. But Simon had an idea that was not at all approved of God. Please notice these words in verse number 18 of Acts chapter 8: „And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money. Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Now, he had committed a sin of wanting to buy this with money. But fundamentally he had committed a sin of trying to insinuate himself into something that God had not ordained him to. The apostles had already been called. They had already been chosen, and God had ordained this. You may see a bumper-sticker hanging on the back of some person’s car that says: „There are no draftees in God’s army, they are all volunteers.” That is simply not so. The fact of the matter is that probably, quite the opposite is true. They are all draftees. You be careful about volunteering in God’s army. I do not mean sit back and not do anything. Because there are some things that God has told every single individual in His church to do. Everyone of us has a job to do. I do not have time to get into that, but I mean you don’t try to choose what to do. You let God do His choosing, because He will, and He will do it perfectly.
You know, if I had been calling an apostle to the Gentiles, I sure would not have called Paul. Would you? I mean, think about it, when they stoned Stephen to death, Paul was saying `Away with this man. Kill him!’ He was holding their coats and saying, kill him. Stephen had the credentials, he had the knowledge, he had the attitude and the burden. He had everything that I can think of that would have made him an ideal apostle to the Gentiles. He had the gifts. You can read the 6th chapter and the 7th chapter of Acts, they are all there. But God allowed Stephen to be killed, and yes, God was in control. God did not throw any stones, but He did not kill anybody who was throwing stones. He let them throw the stones. And He could have killed everyone of them, just like He opened the ground and Korah and his whole family fell in. He could have done the very same thing with those people that wanted to stone Stephen. But God allowed it to happen. And the man that was holding the coats of those that stoned Stephen, God called to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Why? He does not tell us why. It is a Sovereign choice on the part of God. This is illustrated as we look at Paul, I am talking about the sovereignty displayed there. Acts chapter 9 and verse 13: „Then Ananias…” Do you know who Ananias was? Not the one who was killed for stealing money, or lying about money, but the one who baptized Paul. „Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:” Isn’t that a smart statement? God said, `Ananias, I want you to go down, to this man by the name of Saul, he is praying, and I want you to baptize him.’ And Ananias said, in effect, `Lord, I don’t guess you have heard about this, but I guess I had better clue you in.’ He said, `I heard about this and I thought I just ought to pass this on to you.’ It is amazing how many people don’t know that God knows. I asked a young preacher, one time, that had just been four years in Bible college, „You do know that God knows everything do you not?” And he said, „I don’t guess I had thought about it.” Isn’t that smart? Four years in Bible college: „I don’t guess I had thought about it.” What are those Bible Colleges teaching? I am not against them but they need to wake-up and teach some fundamental things that these poor students need to know. „I don’t guess I had thought about it.” Well, Yes, He does, He knows everything. He doesn’t learn anything. God never looks and learns. And so Ananias was telling God about this. But notice what the Lord said. Ananias said, `And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.’ But the Lord said unto him, `Go thy way: (Go do what I told you.) For he, (Now notice this,) he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.’ Isn’t that simple? Ananias, you don’t know anything. Forrest Keener, you don’t know anything. Marcos Rivera, you don’t know anything. All you can know is what God tells you. That’s all! We don’t know anything. We do not know anything. Sometimes I am so amazed and so sad over human presumption. I was reading just yesterday an argument between a couple of preachers on my e-mail, and it was amazing. I think one of these men knew, but the other man was talking about how wrong his opponent was. And the fact of the matter was that he did not even know what the other man was saying. You could listen to his argument and you could tell he does not perceive, he does not understand, he is like somebody that is walking in the dark, he does not understand. And the other man actually believed exactly what this man was arguing for. He believed everything this man was saying. But this man was presenting it as an attack upon what the other man believed, being ignorant of what was being said there. So many times we are like that. God formed us in the womb. And after we came forth He chose us: some to honor and some to dishonor. God chose us vocationally. Now I have to move along very quickly here. I started late, I am going to get through late, but I am going to try to finish the message.
THERE IS A GREAT IMPORTANCE IN VOCATIONAL ELECTION
Secondly, there is a great importance in vocational election. You see what I have given you this morning, I have only given you the fact of vocational election. But it is not just a cold fact. I do not preach much that is intended to just be cold, hard fact. Bible truths are intended to have spiritual application, and implications to them. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, and for 6 days we find God acting alone. He did not use anybody else, or anything else. He did not use evolution. He did not use anything else. He did not use time. He did not use anything in the process of that creation for 6 days, and the 7th day God rested. After the 7th day God has very frequently acted vicariously. For instance, God could build an ark better than Noah could, but God did not build an ark. He chose Noah to build the ark. Do you follow what I am talking about? He did not have to have Noah, but He chose Noah to build an ark, and to save him for seed. And He did that sovereignly. Now, you might say that Noah was better than the other men around him. I have news for you, you had better read your Bible. Because the Bible says that Lamech lived after he begat Noah, he lived so many years and he begat sons and daughters. Now, the Bible says that Noah was perfect in his generations. What does that mean? It comes from two Hebrew words that simply mean undefiled descent. Do you know what it means? It means that he was not mixed with the Cainish descendants. He was a Sethite, and was usable as seed, for Christ the true Seed. That is what it means. I do not have time to get into all of that, but that is exactly what it means. Now, I want to ask you something, weren’t the younger brothers and sisters the same way? They were of the same parentage. Noah was not a polygamist. He only had one wife. And his father, Lamech, was not a polygamist. There was a Lamech in the Cainish line that was a polygamist, but not this Lamech. He only had one wife. And these children were just as undefiled in their descent as Noah, but they drowned in the flood. He chose Noah, and Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Why? He does not tell us why, so we do not know why, and I cannot figure out why nor should I speculate on it. If I gave you some virtue in Noah, that justified God’s grace and God’s call, I would prove salvation by works.
God called, chose, and used Abraham, spiritually, to be our father. Abraham had brothers also. Why did God choose Abraham? He does not tell us why. You do not find anything about Abraham’s character, before his call from God, which sets him apart as being different. God sovereignly chose and called him. He used him to father Isaac, and Jacob, and Jacob fathered Judah to be, according to the flesh, the family by which Jesus Christ would become the Son of man. But did you know Jesus was also Abraham’s seed? He was Abraham’s promised seed. God worked that out. He chose him. Notice over in the book of Galatians, Paul says: „…He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” What seed? Abraham’s seed. That is what Paul is talking about there. It is very clear in the context. You can read it at your leisure. He says this seed of Abraham was Jesus Christ. How very important Abraham was in God’s scheme of vocational election.
God chose and made John the Baptist. He had him borne of Elisabeth, who was a barren woman. God chose him. And John the Baptist was chosen to lay the groundwork for God’s church. Don’t ever apologize to anybody for calling your name Baptist. It is a good name: John the Baptist. Don’t let somebody tell you it means John the baptizer. It means just what it says it means. If I were not a Baptist, I would be ashamed. Oh yes, I mean that seriously, but it is by the grace of God that I am a Christian and a Baptist, so I certainly do not have anything to brag about or to be proud of.
He used the 12, I mentioned earlier, and He used the 70, and the Apostle Paul. He chooses men today to carry out His work or to preach His word. God calls out His elect by the use of those He chooses vocationally. A man said to me the other day, down in Little Rock, „You know, my church could never send me to the Philippines, or anything like that, but it seems to me like it would be so wonderful to go, and be able to do a work like that.” I did not really know what to say about it, because it is kind of wonderful and it is also kind of horrible. It is a dreadful thing to leave my wife and family and church and home like that. I mean the three weeks get very long though they happen so fast. This will be the fifth three-week trip that I have taken to the Philippines, and they are torture. They are literally, physical torture, and yet at the same time, it is a wonderful thing. But the fact of the matter is that it is not an issue of my choice, as to whether it is nice, or whether it is not nice. Whether it is comfortable, whether I like the food, whether I like the cow manure in India, whether I like dead fish all over the place, has nothing to do with it. I have no business being there unless God has called me there. And if God has directed me to go there and do a work, I had better not stay away. It is God’s choice. It is sovereignly done. Vocational election is a sovereign appointment of God and a wonderful thing. I must now come to a final point.
THERE IS GREAT COMFORT IN VOCATIONAL ELECTION
That may seem a little strange at first. God chose Stephen, and he was stoned to death. God chose Paul, and he got his head cut off. God chose Peter. and he was, reportedly, crucified upside down. God chose James and he had his head cut off with a sword. Vocational election does not sound like much fun does it? We might think of Stephen, who was stoned to death, we might think of his suffering, or we might think of Paul’s suffering, and we might tend to despair. But I want to tell you something. I feel a lot of comfort in knowing that I am called to preach. I was 25 years old when God called me to preach, just over 25. I was still 24 when God called me, but I was 25 when I made it known openly. And you know, since that time I have to be honest with you, within the first 3 or 4 years of that time, I questioned things about my salvation. I did not doubt for a moment that I was saved at that point in time, but I questioned the time when I had actually been saved. That question existed because of a very sad period of time in my life. But before God, I can truly say, that through all of that I never, nor have I have ever questioned that call to preach. It was the most clear and compelling direction of my life. I could not believe it, for a while, before it was settled and crystalized in my heart. Would God really call a scum-bag like me to preach? Could my wife ever believe that God would call this nothing of a so-called husband that she had married? Could my friends, and my neighbors, and my working acquaintances, ever believe my testimony of a call? But since I settled it I have never for a moment doubted it. Maybe God would call me somewhere where nobody knew me. That would be very wise of Him. Would you believe He left me in the same town, all of my ministry, where I had lived my sinful, wicked life for five years? Yes, God did it, and I know He did it. But do you know something, it means that with my life, by the grace of God, I can do something more important than my life. I do not like to make bad deals. Do you? I hate to go buy a car, or a loaf of bread, I do not care what it is, and walk down the street and see the same thing for less money. I do not like that. I like to feel like that when I put down a price or an investment, that I get back more than it is worth, or at least what it is worth. Because of the call of God, I know that, by His grace, I will get back more than my life is worth. I am not wasting it. It is comforting to me because I know that I am not spending my life for something worth less than my life. Paul said, `Neither count I my life dear unto myself, that I may finish my course with joy.’ I feel no great danger in going to the Philippine Islands, but I will be honest with you, if I believed that I would never get on a plane and fly back out of Manila, I would still have to go. I just do not feel like I would have any real choice. I would just have to go, because I believe God has directed me to do that. `Neither count I my life dear to myself,’ there is comfort in that. That should not be an alarming thing. With Paul we should say, `that I may finish my course with joy.’ When God has given us something to do, and when we have settled with God in that matter, it is alright. It is just okay, because whatever happens, you just cannot lose.
Joseph said, `I die, but God will visit you. He will bring you out of Egypt, and when He does, take my bones with you.’ I am dying too, and so are you. We are going down the valley one by one. We are all going to die. But isn’t it wonderful if we can know that when we do, our life was not wasted. It will be good to know it was not spent on the flesh, it was not thrown away on things that go into the ground with us. All of us are going to die. But if we are chosen to a service for God, and in some sense all Christians are, we cannot possibly lose. Isn’t it nice to know, you cannot lose? You can only win! Stephen did not lose his life. Did you know that? He did not lose his life. He did not lose his life! He invested it in a wonderful way. And down through thousands of years now, almost two thousand years, this man’s testimony has inspired, and stayed and stabilized millions of people. He did not lose his life, he invested it. And so it is with you and me, when God has called us to something, we invest our lives, we are not throwing our lives away.
How many of you folks know who Adoniram Judson was? Adoniram Judson was the first missionary that was ever sent from the shores of the United states to a foreign country. Incidently, Adoniram Judson was a strict sovereign grace man, as was William Cary, as was Hudson Taylor, as was David Brainard, the man who burned his life up working with the American Indians. He was Jonathan Edward’s son-in-law. But Adoniram Judson left the United States and he went to a country called Burma. There he worked all the rest of his life. His wife, after years of faithful service, lost her health, their children died, and soon his wife died. He came back to the United States and stayed just a short time. He took another wife back to the field with him, and she died. He came back and took another wife back to the field with him but she did not die on the field, he did. He became very, very sick after many, many years of service there. And because of the corruption of the whole land, because of the filth and everything of that land, his lungs were infected, and in desperation, at the doctor’s advice, he took a voyage. He went to sea to try to get some clean air, hoping that his lungs would clear, but they did not, and he died. He died alone with no family present. They took his body and wrapped it in a blanket, and a little before daylight one morning they just pushed his body out of a porthole and let it fall into the sea. Nobody but God knows exactly where he fell. It was just wherever the ship was at that given time. But Adoniram Judson did not lose his life, he invested it. God used it in a tremendous way.
Consider Paul, he preached Christ faithfully, and every time he opened his mouth, somebody slapped him in it. They put him in jail. They beat him. He was whipped like a horse. But do you know something? From those stripes came praise, echoing through those prisons. From those prisons came First and Second Corinthians, and I could go on and give you many other books of our Bible that came out of Paul’s persecution. John, the Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, was exiled to an island. He was really put out to die of starvation, on the Isle of Patmos. For what reason? For preaching the gospel. But from the Isle of Patmos came the book of Revelation. What I am saying is this, that in these cases there is great comfort because we who are called of God can neither live or die in vain. Isn’t that good? We do not live in vain, we do not die in vain, when we are walking in the vocation wherein the Lord has called us.
Now listen, we are different vessels, we are not all alike. Everyone of us has clay feet. Everyone of us has weaknesses, but everyone of us also has strengths that are ordained of God. We need to understand that God has purposes for us, and if we want to get the most out of life, if we want to be the happiest we can be, if we want to be the most productive we can be, we do not need to have a lot of psychological training and a lot of ideas from men. We need to have one simple thing and that is a submissive question in our heart and mind, „Lord what will thou have me to do?” That is simple enough isn’t it? There is not a lot of figuring out, not a lot of getting other men’s advice, but Lord what will thou have me to do?
We need to do something else along the way. I was thinking about this while I was preparing this message. I noticed in the book of Psalms, passage to which I have heard preacher after preacher, appeal on his own behalf, for instance, when the congregation, or someone in it, was giving him a hard time. I praise God you folks are not accustomed to do that to me. You are constantly so gracious, and you have been a loving, wonderful people for so many years now. But I have heard so many preachers, when the congregation was giving them a hard time, quote that Scripture that says, „Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” Oh yes, they are right and it applies to that very thing which they are talking about, and they are using it rightly. But something that has devastated me through the last several years is that I see preachers who would appeal to that for self-defense, who some how never seem to apply it to themselves. Who should hear that any more than the preacher? „Touch not my anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” God help Forrest Keener never again to be the critic of other men whom God has called. Now if I can say in my heart, I am fully persuaded that the man is a heretic, and that God has not called him to preach, and that he is not God’s man, then I may criticize him to my heart’s content. But as long as I must say, „With all of his failures, and all of his flaws, he is a God- called man,” I had better keep my voice silent about him, and so had we all. But that is not true just with preachers, that is true with everyone of us. God has made us differing vessels. We are different. We are all earthen vessels. We are all made out of the same old clay. He has chosen different ones to do different things. Thus He has sovereignly bestowed individual strengths, and permitted certain weaknesses. If God is God, all that is within divine ordination. If we respect the choices and callings of God in these matters, then we had better respect the chosen of God in our churches. I am talking about everybody in the pew. I am talking about everyone in the pulpit. We need to respect God’s vocational election, for if we rebel against that, we rebel against God. May God guide us into humility and right conduct in these matters. Let us stand together with our heads bowed.